Church Life, Holy Days

When the World Seems Out of Sync

It’s too bright for Good Friday and too cold for Spring but exactly as windy as March at its worst.

We sprang ahead too soon, I believe it’s true, and at a moment when I am ready for the day to begin drawing in, I know there are hours of light, though diminishing, still to come. At church last night we wondered if the Tenebrae service could run long enough for the sanctuary to fully darken?

It did.

I can remember Holy Weeks when I had much deeper things to contemplate than the light, the impending loss of a baby one year, my own despair in a profound postpartum depression in another. I’ve spent this Friday recovering from "a procedure" and phoning the mental health number on the back of my insurance card.

The echoes of those two Fridays, so bad despite being Good, ring down through the years and some times touch me softly and other times shake me hard.

Today I led worship for a small group, and we heard my son play his clarinet. Its wistful quality suits the reading of that long gospel passage from John, after the dramatic readings of the night before. We are shocked and culpable at Tenebrae, but we are deeply sad at noon on Good Friday, helpless to stop what has happened. What wondrous love, aren’t those the notes to that hymn he is playing? And what is this one? Do I know it?

And am I born to die?
To lay this body down?
And must my trembling spirit fly
Into a world unknown.

Those are the words, from the Sacred Harp, of the least familiar tune. He was, and we are, and although it is the most natural thing in life to leave it, we resist our departure, unless we embrace its possibility too closely.

Does it strike the right note? Do I? It’s almost finished mattering. With these people, at this church, there is but one more service to lead. I looked around the Chancel, where we all sat, noticing the architecture, realizing that on Sunday, in the bright lights and amid the lilies, some features will be unnoticed. For those who did not hear the story, the grief may go unrecognized, the truth of our mortality may be denied for another year, or so we may hope.

But you don’t get the cycle of Resurrection, the Circle of Life, without Death. You don’t get the joy of anything, really, without the effort of attention to it.

At dinner before the Maundy Thursday service, a Deacon said, "I wanted to know what happened to your bulbs, to know if they came up."

As our ways diverge, I wonder, too, if the planting I’ve done at Main Street Church will lead to new growth. I pray the real Spring, when it comes, will be beautiful.

11 thoughts on “When the World Seems Out of Sync”

  1. Yes, as my old minister, a Virginian also, used to say, “If you can’t bear the Cross, you can’t wear the Crown.” I’m sure your work will bear fruit for some time to come.

  2. “you don’t get the joy of anything without the effort of attention to it…” amen sister. amen! worship. marriage. family. self care. amen to it all…

  3. One of the four sermons I’m preaching during these Holy days is for a wedding. I may very well quote you on “you don’t get the joy of anything with the effort of attention to it” in that sermon.

  4. ((SB))
    I’ve been thinking a lot this week about having to go through Good Friday to get to Easter.
    It was still light outside after our Tenebrae service last night, which kinda spoiled the effect a bit.
    See you soon.

  5. Thank you- I am reminded how much I need Good Friday- and somehow the cold wind and the greyness of this Saturday seem appropriate.

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