The soggy, grey, chilliness outside this morning is certainly appropriate for a grieving day like Good Friday...the day we remember Jesus' crucifixion. There is not one thing about the weather outside that hints at the Sunday resurrection celebration to come. Although we have not yet had the snow our neighbours to the west have had, it is still one miserable day out there. It certainly focused my thoughts on Christ's sufferings the second I arose from my warm, comfy bed and looked out the window....brrrrr, blaaaah.....
I started this Holy Week up to my ears in Anglican symbolism...something I have never related to that well, but as I get older and more reflective it is starting to resonate more with my soul. (Eeeep, did I just use the word "resonate"???? How very AD 2000 - 2015 of me!!!)
Anyway, last night the Maundy Thursday service was so well done at our church and I ended up participating more than planned. Our priest gave a short and very meaningful homily that concentrated on the fact that the Jesus whose memory of that horrendous betrayal by his own disciple we recall each Easter, is the same Jesus who loves us no matter who we are or what we have done and wants to save us from our own human flaws and restore us to harmony with our creator. It was a combined service with the other congregation who share this same priest and one person was chosen from each congregation to do participate in a symbolic foot washing. I was chosen as the person from our church. not because I am particularly spiritual or deserving, but because I was wearing sandals that are super easy to slip off and back onto slightly damp feet. (Well, I gotta be honest, right?) I haven't participated in a foot washing for several years and before we left for church last night, me not knowing I would be participating, I was grousing at my husband that I felt ripped off that the foot washing would not be offered to every person there, grouse, grouse grouse, complain, complain, complain, whine fuss, whine fuss, whine fuss.....
As usual the Lord quashed my disappointment and grousing! The second we walked into the church the priest approached me to be the one to do it. Oooooh, I HATE when God calls me out on my own self-righteous complaints....HATE! IT! Sigh..... Okay Lord, I got the hint. Stop complaining about things unless I am prepared to do something about them, OR to have YOU do something about them to shut me up with the ungodly grousing. Sigh...I never learn do I?
The Eucharist was so simple and meaningful and it was particuarly poignant with our two congregations being together. To see us acting in unison as the church of God in Christ instead of each being isolated to our own Sunday morning groups brought back wonderful memories to me of other combined church services I have enjoyed in years past. To celebrate the central event of our Christian faith as one group made me think of what it was like when Jesus first began gathering followers who were not yet split into sects and denominations, but were such a small band that they simply followed the Master himself.
At the end of the service our little impromptu trio chanted the psalm. (Ps 22:1-17) I had only the mournful refrain to sing at the end of each of 8 verses: "My God....my God...why have you forsaken me?" As we began the third verse, those seated in the congregation began to voluntarily strip the altar of all its elements to leave it bare in remembrance of Jesus having nothing left on this earth as he was given up to the Romans for trumped up charges and subsequent death. His very disciples fled in fear of Roman persecution and deserted him. As the people got the altar stripped down they slowly wended their way out of the sanctuary and out of the building. By the time we got to the last verse there were only two people left in the sanctuary to hear it. Standing there in almost darkness chanting and seeing the people walking out on us...well....it was a perfect way to enact the abandonment of Christ at the end of his earthly life. It struck my heart in a new way. Usually at Maundy Thursday services I am one of the ones wandering off in the dark after helping strip the altar. This time it was me being left behind and that gave me a whole new way of thinking about Jesus being so alone for his death walk after having the apparently loyalty of his followers for those few years.
So, today there is a Walk of the Cross leaving from the church building where our sister congregation meets. They will do a walk between 2 other churches and eventually end up at the Roman Catholic Cathedral. In the pouring rain the long, long walk will be even more torturous for the participants. The walk starts in 20 minutes and we should be there but my husband is so exhausted from work that he is still sleeping. I am risking his upset for not waking him up to attend, but he won't be in any trouble with his job for missing it and I see how close to the edge of a CFS episode he is teetering. This is the time of year, spring is the annual episode return, that I need to step in and shut down every little extra he is involved in with not only his job, but even some of his more mentally and physically strenuous hobbies, even some of our strictly social gatherings. It makes me look like a mean, interfering b*%#h to people unaware of his little health issue, but it has to be done or he will be over the edge and missing far more than a Walk of the Cross very soon. That's life.........
We have to decide tomorrow morning if we are going to be here for the Easter Vigil tomorrow evening at the Cathedral. It is a 3 hour service that starts at 9pm. Since we have to be in Esterhazy Sunday morning and may be facing snow and icy highways as the aftermath of a lot of precipitation, dropping temperatures and below freezing in the overnight hours, we may have to get closer to that town by Saturday evening and take a room in the nearest motel to ensure we are there to do the Easter morning resurrection service. No doubt the answer to the question will become clear over the next 24 hours.
So, another Holy Week is underway...how the time flies around here. I still remember last year's services, maybe because it was my husband officiating at all of them. It is impossible to believe it was a full church year ago!
Onward and upward to a hopefully relaxed day for both of us. I am excited to be going to the BBQ tonight with our friends and taking them their Easter baskets. Welcome to Canadian secular Easter traditions, hahaha.