In observance of Good Friday.
in observance of Good Friday
No Sacred Music Friday this week in observance of Good Friday.
Have a joyous Easter!
I am foregoing Sacred Music Friday this week in observance of Good Friday. Instead:
During her visitation on Palm/Passion Sunday, our bishop, The Rt. Rev. Mary Gray-Reeves, told the story of a 4 year-old who asked her where God was when Jesus was in the tomb. She described her response as this: There is a place called hell, she said, which is where, some people say, those who don’t want to be with God go. So, she told the boy, some people say God was in hell asking the people there if they didn’t want to be with Him again.
Of course that fits well with standard Christian theology. After all, in the Apostle’s Creed we say “He descended to the dead (or, as some versions say, hell).”
Bishop Mary then went on to tell about the young girl who asked her bishop where Jesus was on Holy Saturday. The bishop’s reply: “He went into hell to find his good friend Judas.”
That works too.
The solemnity of Holy Week seemed to me a good time to think about our relationship to our environment. Add to the that the fact that Pope Francis has already reminded us several times about how badly we have handled that relationship.
I love our kitchen, and I love our stove. When we did the remodel we very consciously bought a gas stove and oven. I enjoy using my stove top, seeing the blue gas flame, and having that precise control. And the nice thing is that supplies of natural gas are abundant and it is inexpensive.
Except that the reason that natural gas is abundant and it is inexpensive is because much of it is being obtained through the process of hydraulic fracturing, often called fracking. It is a process about which there are many questions and which uses large amounts of water. There are also questions about how destabilizing it is to the surrounding land. Perhaps there are safe ways to do hydraulic fracturing, but there’s no guarantee that drillers will follow those procedures without proper government regulation.
A much more energy-efficient way to cook is induction cooking, which is electric. And since we have solar panels cooking that way would greatly minimize the impact on the environment and the use of fossil fuel. The catch is that your cookware needs to be sensitive to magnets. That is, if you can get a magnet to stick to the bottom of your pan you can use it with an induction cooker. Of our stainless steel Calphalon pans that I sampled, only one qualified.
These things are never simple.
Here it is, once again, Holy Week. Back when I first started participating in the liturgical tradition, in the late 1990’s and the first several years of the twenty-first century, it seemed that Lent lasted forever. In the last couple of years it has gone by so fast that I almost feel as if I’ve missed it. Lent, after all, is supposed to be a time of preparation for Easter, and I have to admit that I don’t feel that I’ve done much preparing.
No point in regretting. I can’t go back and have a do-over.
The good news is that Holy Week got off to a magnificent start yesterday with a marvelous Palm/Passion Sunday service presided over by Bishop Mary on the occasion of her visitation.
More from Bishop Mary on Good Friday.
I did better this year. Of course it didn’t take much for me to have done better than last year. Last year I missed Palm/Passion Sunday and didn’t make it to a single Holy Week service. This year I was there for Palm/Passion Sunday, and made it to the Good Friday service as well. Not that I feel I deserve a pat of the back. It’s part of what I owe myself given the spiritual path I have chosen. And having done those services made Easter all the more meaningful.
Still, I felt distracted this year. I’m rarely pleased with my Lenten discipline, and this year was no exception. What came to mind for me this year were the words from W.H. Auden’s For the Time Being, his Christmas oratorio. While the words are meant to apply to Advent, Christmas, and Epiphany, somehow this year they spoke to my experience of Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.
As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,
Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
But I don’t want to be sour. It is Easter. The service yesterday was marvelous and the music superb. So let me get myself into the spirit of the season:
The Lord is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
I remember Palm Sunday as a child growing up in the Methodist Church to have been a sort of mini-Easter. In my Unitarian and Religious Science days it was pretty much ignored. In my Lutheran and once and future Episcopal experience it is, of course, Palm/Passion Sunday.
Last year Karoline Lewis wrote in favor of Palm Sunday standing on its own. She said:
I understand the practical reasons for the more recent liturgical emphasis on the day’s dual themes: most people won’t be coming back during the week, so they need to hear the crucifixion story now. The church needs to make sure that the story of Jesus’ death is given its due before acknowledging any reports of resurrection appearances.
But she concludes that there is reason to observe Palm Sunday on its own:
Palm Sunday can give us language to express “God with us.” The crowd gets it: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” The one at the center of this parade of palms is none other than Immanuel. Hosanna indeed.
I was a bad kid last year. Not only did I not make it to any of the Triduum services, I didn’t make it to Palm/Passion Sunday at St. John’s. At least during my Lutheran years I generally got to Maundy Thursday service, and most years to the community noon Good Friday service as well.
This year I expect to be there for Palm/Passion Sunday, but I don’t know about the Triduum. So, I suppose that I’m one of those people for whom the hybrid service was designed.
Karoline’s comments are well-taken indeed, but it just may be that a pure Palm Sunday service is yet another casualty of our busy, hectic, frenetic world.
I skipped church on Palm/Passion Sunday. That's quite unlike me.
Part of it was that I didn't want to try to get acquainted with the procedure for that day at St. John's. Part of it was that I didn't want to hear the passion narrative.
I've heard it said that the Eastern church focuses primarily on the Incarnation, while the Western church, at least the liturgical part of it, focuses primarily on the Passion and Resurrection. I think that that is true. I've come up with this formula, speaking as the Powers that Be of the Western liturgical tradition: "Yes, Advent and Christmas are fine and all that, but what is really important is Lent, Holy Week, and, oh, yes, Easter too."
Now that somewhat unfair, certainly, but I also think that there is a certain amount of truth there. And I guess I'm just feeling it more strongly this year than I have in previous years.