Love one another as I have loved you.
I'm stuck. It's Holy Saturday. For so many years, I hated Lent, sort of counting down the days 'til it was over. then our priest, Ken Genge told me in the 80's when I was back in Montreal, "Now it's yours." Another friend told me once Lent is her favourite season of the church year. ??? thought I. So, many years later, moving gradually out of guilty-living, I've discovered Lent as a time of challenge, peace (in its deepest sense), learning and understanding and living in questions in new ways...
So... for the first time ever, I'm not anxious for Easter. In fact, part of me just isn't ready - well - would we ever be? Ready for joy and grace in such full measure?
But - I'm leaping ahead. And I don't want to.
Thursday afternoon, there were only 5 of us at St. CHL for Maundy Thursday. The Triduum isn't part of the collective or individual experience of most Anglicans of a certain generation around here. I had the privilege of being part of exquisitely beautiful Maundy Thursday services at SSM for many years. The deep silence. Liturgy at the Church of the Advent in Boston. We didn't grow up with it, though. Not here in fairly low church Montreal. Not in Barbados, where two of the five originate from.
Thursday night, I attended La Sainte Cène at Eglise Saint-Joachim in Pointe-Claire, one of my many spiritual homes - this one discovered by 'accident' - "There are no accidents, our guide is Aslan." There were 200-300 people present. The curé led us through the liturgy teaching as we journeyed. A large group of young teens have been studying what it means to serve. In sets of three - one adult, two teens, there were stations all around the church for the congregation to have hands washed and dried by them. Very moving.
Maundy Thursday - Good Friday -
I've found some wonderful reading material. Frederick Buechner: The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story. His chapter "The Last Supper" got me thinking and praying about 'lasts.' You'll have to read it for the full benefit. It led me into exploring lasts. What it means. The last Supper - he speaks of Jesus knowing it was the last supper with his friends. Knowing he was going to die. Knowing it was the end of their journey together in this life. The disciples knew but didn't know. Their hearts were heavy. Their dreams were about to be shattered. They didn't understand what was going on. They wanted to be with Jesus, but they simply couldn't take it all in - the sense of confusion, loss, uncertainty. What was the matter with Him? They wanted to accompany him; they ended up betraying him, denying him, falling sleep, and then running and hiding when he needed them most. Most abandoned this man whom they loved deeply. Would we do the same?
Lasts: I remember the last time I saw my Dad. At his home in Longueuil. Tuesday in Holy Week 1993. He didn't feel well enough (thought didn't say so) to come to my place, so I took my alb to wash there and had lunch with him and Mariette. Egg sandwich on white bread. I tell this story in more detail elsewhere. When it was time to leave, I kissed him on the cheek, and went down the six stairs to the outdoor landing, turned and looked back. His face reflected a great sadness. I misinterpreted it as him being disappointed in me. Most likely, he knew he wasn't going to see me again. That was the last time.
If I could go back, I would hug him. If I could go back, we'd talk more and I'd ask questions, and .... and I guess if the disciples could have gone back to that last supper and last night, they might have .... who knows.... ?
Mostly, we don't know when the last times will be. I don't think we're able to take in the clues, if there are clues. I've been present at many deaths, and I know the clues. Yet I couldn't 'see' the clues in my Dad - I just couldn't. Too close to home. And, of course, sometimes, there aren't any clues - it's an accident or ...
In this last evening, Jesus knew his disciples. He knew they were a raggle-taggle bunch of frail human beings. And yet, he was entrusting the ministry to them. He knew they would betray, deny, abandon him. How hard it must have been to trust that they would regain courage, grow, and share the Good News into the next generations...
When I left the Mission, I left it in the hands and hearts of a raggle-taggle bunch - and they have carried on. One day I will leave the parish. I may ;-) wonder sometimes what difference I've made - having tried so hard to help us grow into a healthy, loving community of faith. I trust. God. And the people. We're all raggle-taggle. Human. Frail. Courageous. Afraid. Loving. Messer-uppers. Real people, in other words.
In the 50's and 60's. like most, we all attended at least part of the three hour Good Friday service, though our family went for the last half hour or hour so we didn't have to get up and be seen leaving. ;-) Too many sermons. Deadly. Too - well, lacking something to bring it to life. Pun intended. Today Good Friday can be lived differently.
Barbara Brown Taylor: Home By Another Way. In the chapter on the seven last words - "The Voice of Love" - begins with the "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15. 25 - 34) Again - worth reading the entire chapter...
Page 85: "This Jesus died talking to his Abba, who would not talk back to him. is there any other definition of faith? In his suffering, he is the comfort of those who have no comfort. In his abandonment, he is the God of those who have no God. Hearing no voice of live, he cried our, making a sound that - for many - became the voice of love."
And now - Holy Saturday - tonight we will have our Easter vigil at Mile End Mission. Child Friendly. Bilingual. Chaotic and dynamic. A New Fire and procession outside on snowy ! sidewalk ... and tomorrow at 10am, the Easter service at St. CHL. Everything has been prepared - except the homily.
I've never had trouble with an Easter homily being ready ahead because I leaped forward. Today I don't want to leap forward. I feel the need to rest in the tomb - or outside the tomb. To live through to Easter not in passivity. To live in the tension. A choice.
To be continued...
And if you're looking for an awesome book - here it is.
Joan Chittister: Between the Dark and the Daylight: Embracing the Contradictions of Life