Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Those Darn Protestants ... a.k.a. Rushing the Liturgical Season Along

When people ask me if I'm Catholic or Protestant around here, I can't answer. As an Episcopalian, I think I am much more Catholic than Protestant. 

Case in point: Here we are in Tuesday in Holy Week.  I went to get the sacrament of St. Arbuck's today, and this is what I saw on the gigantic billboard of a local Southern Baptist Church: 


I kid you not.  We haven't even reached Good Friday, but those dang Baptists are Jumping the Shark over all of Holy Week, straight to the resurrection.  

I am gobsmacked. 

Fundamentalists generally slobber and waller all over the cross.  But not this one.  They're just jumping straight to Easter ... 5 days early.  What the heck's up with that?  

Frankly, I think it's a cheap Christianity that fails to spend time in this Holy Week,  spending time with Jesus through Good Friday ... and then imagining what his followers must have felt through Friday and Saturday. I think we must let our imaginations dwell deeply with it all before we come to Sunday.  That's what I'm doing this Holy Week.  Walking with Jesus.  

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Another Palm Sunday

I’ve been in The Episcopal Church since it found and rescued me in 1996.  And I have never been comfortable with this Sunday. Some call it Palm Sunday.  Some call it Passion Sunday.  For me, it is always a Sunday of deep grief and mixed emotions. 

I love our liturgy and our lectionary!  I really do.  But this day – called “Palm Sunday” or “Passion Sunday” depending on where you are – just tears me up. We start with the marvelous procession with palms and hosannas out on the street.  Then in the long reading of the Gospel, we crucify him again. 

I always have liturgical whiplash at the end of this Sunday’s service.  Today was no different. 

I’m reminded of these lines from Richard Wilbur’s poem
It takes a sky-blue juggler with five red balls
To shake our gravity up.
And surely this young man from Galilee has shaken up our gravity.  He has turned the Torah upside down.  He has brought the outsiders inside.   He has brought promise of a whole new reign of justice and caritas

And this week we’ll go liturgically through his death. Again. Yet again. Just like we do every Holy Week.   Year after year after year. 

Today, as all our parishioners gathered on the sidewalk outside our little parish, with palm fronds in hand … and then processed into the church singing “All glory, laud, and honor,” it was difficult for me to join in the joyful chorus.  Because I knew where the Gospel reading was going to take us.  Where it takes us every year. It was going to take us to a man abandoned by his closest friends.  To a man crying, “My God, why have you forsaken me?”  To a man dying a horrible death. 

We go through this cycle every year.  Advent.  Christmas. Epiphany.  Lent.  Holy Week.  And it’s always the same.  We wind up killing this sky-blue juggler who shakes up our gravity.  The weight of it today was almost more than I could bear …  as the liturgy moved from “All glory, laud and honor” to “O sacred head, sore wounded, defiled and put to scorn.” 

And so I wept through too much of today’s service. 

When will quit killing the sky-blue juggler who shakes up our gravity? 

Lord, have mercy.