Sunday, April 16, 2006

It Was a Candlelit Week, it Seems

The Thursday before Palm Sunday, we read the passage about Mary of Bethany anointing Jesus with spikenard...and Jesus commending her. That started me thinking about Mary. She truly must have been amazing. First we see her defying convention in an incredibly brave way by daring to sit at the rabbi's feet and learn from him. And later she seems to understand something that the 12 disciples still did not, even a short time before the end. She understood, it seems, that Jesus was going to die.

I finally stopped struggling with a sermon for Palm Sunday and dressed up in a costume and did a monologue instead. It was well received, and I may do more of these.

Then on Thursday we gathered for candlelight communion. The sanctuary was lit with dim purple light on the back wall. The only other light was lots of candles. Most often we share communion by having the deacons pass it to the congregation and then we all take the bread and cup together. Sometimes I do it various other ways though. This night I asked people to come up to the candlelit table, where I held the matzah and my husband held the tray of little cups. (I really don't like matzah, but it seems right to use the correct bread when it is Passover.) As each person stepped forward I looked into their eyes as I said, "_________, the body of Christ was broken for you." And DH said, "___________, the blood of Christ was shed for you." Since it was a somewhat small group, and no visitors, we could call each one by name. The reactions varied from tears to a hurried pass with no eye contact.

The next night was an ecuminical Good Friday Tennebrae service at a church that is out in the countryside. It was completely full of people, elderly to infants. Nine clergy participated, and of those, six were women. Isn't that unusual? Two Roman Catholic priests, a Presbyterian, a Lutheran, a Methodist, a few UCC, and one Assembly of God pastor (me). It was a very traditional and very beautiful service. The sanctuary grew darker and darker as candles were extinguished one by one and lights were dimmed. Then the church bell tolled...such a mournful sound it was...and we sat in darkness as we listened.

My husband and I went out for ice cream with some of our parishoners who had attended. Is it right to eat ice cream on Good Friday?

And this morning we entered our church's lovely little sanctuary to the sounds of "Christ the Lord is Risen Today." There were many visitors, which is not always the case for us on Easter Sunday. The cross was draped with a gleaming white cloth, and the crown of thorns was replaced by a golden king's crown. Lots of candles. Lilies, gardenias and azaleas filled the room with a sweetly fresh scent of springtime. Teen Challenge women were our guests today. That is a Christian program for people with life-controlling problems (very successful and one of my favorite ministries). They shared a ham dinner with my mother and me and many others at the lake cottage of one of our church couples, and each of the Teen Challenge women received an Easter basket. Precious women. New life from darkness. Thanks be to God!

Strange in a way, Good Friday was a beautiful sunny day. The temperature reached 70 degrees (yippeee)! Easter, on the other hand, was grey and cold and drizzling.

A nice ending note, the Teen Challenge director told me that our church was the warmest and most wecoming congregation they had visited in the state. Yay for us! :-)

I hope the day was filled with joy for you. Time for a nap for me. Whew.


see-through faith said...

When I take a wafer I always break it in two as a visual reminder for me that this is his body broken for me

how lovely that you did this for the loved ones in your church - I'm not surprised that there were tears, and also that some refused eye contact - it's a hard truth that he did it for me, He did it out of love, He did it willingly.

BTW couldnt find your email address ...we start Luke now - one chapter a day. I'm going to use the message I think Let's post thoughts on the original blog. OK?

LutheranChik said...

As you know from my blog, I'm setting up a home altar, and I "test-drove" it last night, for Compline. One of the most evocative things for me was the little tealight flickering before my print of Christ gave a special meaning to the lines about "...for mine eyes have seen the salvation which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to enlighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel."

Anonymous said...

If by 'joy' you mean ham sammiches, eggs, and carbonated sodas of many various flavors, it most certainly was. *pats his belly*


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Lorna, email me at and I will give you my other email addy.

L.C., I read that with interest. Been praying for you. I never realized, back in your Hypatia days, that we are "neighbors" so to speak.

Hightmare, you are tooo funny! I wish you could come to my church. The people would love you.

Anonymous said...

Your church might be worth the trip, especially after the earful I got for explaining my views at the last church I visited (Palm Sunday). I told them I was aware I prpbably oversimplified some, but man they had some probles with what I said. (and no, I didn't quote Elvis Costello, Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, or Sam Malone)


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Well gee...did you stand up and inturrept the sermon or something? ;-)

Anonymous said...

Nah. Had a short meeting with them. They expressed the importance of proper dress for each gender a bit heavy. I pointed out that Jesus hung out with beggars and prostitutes as well as anyone else willing to listen and learn.

Then they got into gender roles and policing each other. I told them I was a pretty simple guy. I remember reading about people asking Jesus what the most important commandment was and he said loving God with heart, soul, and mind, and the second was loving thy neighbor as thyself, and on these were hung all the laws and prophets. I struggle enough with these, and I won't get on someone else for details when I can't get a grasp on the big picture. They didn't like that, then they went back to wives dress (when I told them twice I was single) I told them I didn't care if a womans neckline was too low as long as she was Christian in spirit, if it bothers me, I won't look. That's when we parted ways after getting dirty looks from them.

jenny said...

I suggest that you all open your mind and take a peek at this site-