Friday, April 14, 2017

A different kind of Holy Week

This Easter is a unique one for us. Maybe you've had one like this too, where Easter comes at a time when your grief and suffering has been heavier during Lent, and the declaration that Christ has conquered the grave comes with weight. Over the past several months, Robbie and I have literally experienced some of the hardest moments in our lives, God has brought us through the troubled waters and here we stand. 

Last night we celebrated a small portion of the Jewish Seder meal during our Maundy Thursday celebrations.  As we read through the blessings and declared the truth of God's deliverance, I heard echoes of our experience.  Earlier in the day, as I was preparing the saltwater, I was tasting it to be sure the balance was right, and the warm drops on my fingers tasted like my own tears.  A few weeks back, a friend of mine had reminded me of the beautiful children's book Tear Soup.  She brought it to me a few months into my grief and recovery, and I told her, I had already made several batches of "Tear Soup" this spring.  That friend was busily helping prepare communion as I looked at the pot I had selected to make the saltwater, and I realized I had literally made a pot of tear soup!  I couldn't wait to dip my greens and celebrate the blessings of God with the taste of the bitterherb and tears on my lips.  When we finally did begin the Seder portion of our meal, I felt the joy in my bones as we read the blessing of the first cup, glasses raised: Blessed are you, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who have kept us in life, sustained us, and brought us to this season of joy! As I broke the bread of affliction, I felt the strength of God's people who have endured affliction after affliction and still found a voice to sing of God's deliverance.

Now I'm trying to muster up the strength for Good Friday, trying not to think about Holy Saturday.  I'm incredibly excited for the different kind of "good" Good Friday service we have set before us. Back in January our youth choir director and I decided that we would pull together singers and orchestra players to perform John Rutter's Gloria. I had no idea how that would shape the formation of a worship which usually accents the frailty and horrible nature of humanity. Our service tonight is a testimony of Christ's faithful and unwavering, passionate love for us.  This is the "good news" about Good Friday: God has already chosen us for this life, and God continues to choose to be connected to us, despite our mistakes, all so that we can find true wholeness, all to discover true goodness in this life and the next.

The prelude and postlude for tonight's service is a playlist of New Orleans Jazz funeral music. We will walk the stations of the cross, to the beat of he drum which knows the end of the story. May the beautiful blend of joy and sorrow fill my feet to carry me through the silence of Holy Saturday, so that we might find light and life at that sunrise service Sunday morning. Jesus was with me in my suffering, and he will lead me into wholeness, where sadness and joy make one another complete. 

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