Holy week. Only a slice of the country will experience an Easter morning, a smaller portion will get in Good Friday, a slight bit seeing Maundy Thursday and mostly monastic or faith communities holding vigil on Saturday. Here in the village we do not miss a step. All people in the village, regardless of faith history or experience, will know every single day and all its unique focus and ancient roots. For church leaders its the busy week of the year, and I've experienced Holy weeks that leave me tired and alone and needing to feed a small child. Holy week in the village brings us both to the fullness of the resurrection. I have known the promise of new life that I cannot earn nor destroy.
Thursday full of big forgiveness, bigger than can possibly be deserved. When I met my little one after school to say I needed thirty more work minutes, she went home alone. I arrived a bit later than promised to find she had made my bed, picked up the living room and was washing dishes because she knew “this was a big week for pastors!”. In evening worship we were remembering that Jesus washing his disciples feet is togetherness, humility and in humility, power. Listening to water being poured into big, silver bowls as Cindy sings “and the call is to community” – watching villagers have feet washed, and then washing feet. Watching walls break down and community becoming more and more stunning. Breaking bread, being called together by Jesus. Then the haunting of the worship space being robbed of its goods. Beautiful art, pastor’s stoles, candles and bible all leave and we are left, dark and barren. The betrayal of love is imminent.
Good Friday gathering in silence, my hand covered in splinters from wresting alone with the large, rugged cross. I asked for help, and the cross was lighter. Readers preparing the passion, candles being lit for every bidding prayer – the great prayer that invokes nations and creation and believers and unbelievers and broken ones and corrupt ones and lays it all on the cross. Prayer around the cross opens as Linda says “waiting for the morning…waiting for the light”. We linger at the cross awhile longer.
Saturday Vigil, so much! The vigil was inspiriting, but so was the day leading up to it. All around the village people were scurrying about to prepare for their story, birds being made, puppets chattering, fires being built, choirs singing. The great fire (under a little rain), and then the colossal procession! The creation story with silk dancing, Noah and the flood and the whole village filling a small basement room to fill the “ark”, watching Ellen dance with the rainbow. The hike up the hill with Issac, watching for the sacrificial lamb. The slow procession to the Red Sea and witnessing the children wage war, Israelites being hunted by Egyptians. The dining hall and the call to be fed (with hot cross buns!), the library and woman wisdom, main street and the gathering of all God’s nations, the children and adults limping as dry bones and dancing as new creation, the mighty roar of the people hearing Isaiah’s words (twice), the fiery furnace with smoke and light and fire brigade turnouts. The parade into our worship space, transformed from an empty tomb to an array of flowers and white and Alleluias. The journey was long, slow, cold and became dark. The work of God in it is mind-blowing, constant, inspiring, new, ancient, and transformative. Standing strong in baptismal promises and gathering again at the table of mercy. Chocolate covered strawberries to ring in the resurrection. This is the night.
Sunday morning, peeling myself out of bed for a sunrise walk and time of prayer and readings, hearing about the empty tomb from the gospels. Sunday morning Eucharist, the chance to play the piano while the bishop preached and Susan presided. What gift. The energy of children bright and giggly, the tired smiles of cooks, the giddiness of one more Eucharist meal for the week. Sore forearms and a patient daughter accompanied me from the worship space, finally. Afternoon cocktails, feast meals of northwest salmon and berries, baguettes that bring the table together to break bread yet again. Lingering in a circle of laughter, contentment and life abundant.
Holy week, more than any pastor can prepare for.
How does one welcome the Divine death and resurrection?
A new creation, again. Christ is risen, he is risen indeed. Alleluia!