Friday Five: Holy Week, Batman!

As posted by reverendmother at RevGalBlogPals:

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?

We will be observing both.

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.

I’ve never seen it done.

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.

For the past few years I’ve held a very simple service at noon on Good Friday at which we read the long gospel lesson from John, as well as the conversation with the thieves from Luke, interspersed with prayer and (most years) a few Taize chants. It feels good to observe the day, which has been a particularly sad one in my past, more than one year and for more than one reason.

Last year I made some adaptations, using visual and tactile materials that had been part of our Lenten worship center. Although the group was small, it was powerful to pray while holding stones that had been in the church for six weeks, then to leave them on the altar beneath the rough wooden cross used at Small Church during the Lenten season. Rather than singing we listened to some recorded music, including Johnny Cash singing "Wayfaring Stranger." (It really worked.)

4. Easter Sunrise Services–choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it’s sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can’t Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"

A. See below.

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn’t Easter without…

For me, the Sunrise Service has been the answer to #5, but this year we
will not have one to attend, as Main Street Church doesn’t do one and
my first service there is too early to allow enough time to attend one
held by another church. I’ll miss it.

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.

Large Church had an Easter Vigil service for a few years, and I loved it, but I think it’s a little "high" for most UCC folk. And it requires a certain critical mass to be thoroughly impressive. My favorite part of that service was the beginning. The congregation and choir gathered in the church’s cloister, lit the Easter fire, then processed, choir first, into the sanctuary. We sang a gorgeous setting for "Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty"–a capella, on a ground–and continued singing it until everyone had been seated. Considering we had to go through two doorways and around a corner, it was musically challenging to stay tuned and together, and that added to the feeling that we were doing something very, very special. Loved, loved, loved it.

12 thoughts on “Friday Five: Holy Week, Batman!”

  1. Thank you as always for playing! I also love the “kindling of the new fire.”
    Sorry I didn’t check with you before saying the F5 would be off next week—I looked at last year’s schedule and it seemed to make sense.

  2. No problem. That was my plan. I’ll post something appropriate.
    On the sunrise service, here’s why I like it so much: it feels raw and real and visceral, as in “Omigosh, the sun keeps coming up, and so does the Son.”
    I find Easter worship in the church to be far removed from the rest of our life together. It feels like putting on a show for people who are fulfilling a once-yearly obligation or dress-up fantasy. I hope I can give them something meaningful to take away, but I’m dubious about the efficacy of my attempts. It’s hard to know how to preach on Easter Sunday, because every other week feels like building on themes, and this is a stand-alone. Maybe as I get more experienced I’ll understand it better. Certainly last year (my 4th Easter preaching) was a big improvement on the previous 3.

  3. I think Easter is really hard to preach on. I mean, the Title of the Sermon – He is Risen! says it all.
    Um, folks… read the bulletin and now go out and live it!
    Anyway, fun five. As always I love reading about things through Songbird’s eyes.

  4. I have attended a foot-washing, a complete Maundy Thursday washing down of the altar, stations of the cross, a passion play, a passion procession (complete with Christ-like stand-in lugging giant cross down a busy highway), an Easter Vigil and any other spiky high-church Episcopal activity you could name, but I’ve never been to a sunrise service.

  5. This is a great thread. Having always been Episcopalian I forget that not everyone does all the liturgical stuff we do.
    I’ve never been to a sunrise service either…except for a Vigil that began at 5 am.

  6. I attended sunrise services (Vigils) while in seminary. It was lovely. The first year we attended (family with me) our son, about 3, feel asleep in the darkness, then woke when the lights came on and said loudly, “It’s Easter!”…out of the mouth of babes….so, that is always my Easter Vigil memory when the lights come on….
    Thanks for sharing…your thoughts always pull up memories for me, which I appreciate.

  7. Sorry, got interrupted. Confirmation is on Palm Sunday, and their first communion is on Maundy Thursday. The “dread” day is the Sunday before Palm Sunday, aka “Question Sunday” in our church.

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