Friday, April 5, 2013

Triduum redux: more than you really wanted to know

Well, I've gotten the official Easter cold like I do every single year. This year, I can officially point fingers at my parents, who had colds, but unofficially, it's really not their fault. Holy Week simply wears a body out. Don't tell them that though. Let them stew.

This year, Holy Week and Easter moved away from words and texts and into visuals for me. And that translated into preaching as well. This year, perhaps for the first time, I saw the washing of feet as a parable, and in seeing it that way, I started seeing the rest of the events that happened almost as performance art as well (somewhat shocking to think that about the crucifixion, but that's where my mind went).

So here's what happened:

Maundy Thursday

St. Michael's didn't have a foot washing, which was fine by me. I've got to say, I don't understand why we encourage pedicures before ritual footwashing, when I believe part of meaning of the washing is "Come as you are, with dirt on your feet."

I wanted to do something that would disturb the congregation to illuminate what I sensed was the same sort of disturbance in seeing Jesus step out of his "proper" role. So a great deal of the sermon was in silence, as I stepped forward, took off the stole, took off the cincture, took off the alb, then went into the congregation and, one by one, brought each person forward to sit at chairs the lay minister and I had set up in the sanctuary around the altar. As I walked them forward to their seat, I talked to each person individually, thanking them for coming and making some small talk.

It really did make people nervous, which is what I wanted. I was amazingly nervous, too.

Oh for My sake, Peter!
I spoke for a couple of minutes after everyone was seated (as Jesus did after washing people's feet), explaining why I'd done what I'd done. I also said that this time, I thought that whole side story of Peter refusing to have his feet washed was hilarious. I imagined Jesus doing a facepalm and saying, "Just...go with it, Peter. OK? Just go with me, here."

The big problem with this service? I'd explained to the lay minister my whole plan, but hadn't spoken to the organist. So that was a bit of a train wreck. Ah well.

Good Friday

There wasn't a group of lectors to read the parts of the Passion Narrative, so I was going to reading the whole thing by myself. Whew! I figured that was a lot for listeners to concentrate on, so I hoped to be able to include visuals to help people see while I was reading. St. Michael's used to display all the bulletin material on a large flatscreen in the upper right of the building. So I put together a PowerPoint with art depicting various scenes from the Passion.

Unfortunately, the flatscreen has been disconnected. Ah well. But I, at least, had some pretty vivid images in my mind of what was happening.

What really struck me was the movement from dark to morning to midday to sunset as you read through the story. Unfortunately, that's about as far as that thinking got.

Sermon-wise, I thought I was going to pull from the Good Friday service I did the previous year, which I thought had worked out very well. It began "It was all perfectly legal," which I still think is a pretty kick-ass opener. But as the day went on, I realized I had something else to say. I just wasn't sure what it was.

As I read the text, I was struck by the reversal of roles, as Peter goes from faithful follower to scared denier, and Nicodemus goes from secret follower to openly burying Jesus. My point became "We are not stuck in one place forever." Unfortunately (again) it didn't really get fully developed.

Still...not a bad service overall. I had to do a whole lot of talking, though. No music at this service.

Easter Vigil

Someone else preached at the Easter Vigil -- yay! And she said something that I had been thinking: about how Holy Week is a river and you just catch little glimpses of things passing by.

I had picked five of the readings, but it turns out we only had three lectors. So, a few minutes before the service started, we settled on the three readings. And we hadn't exactly gone over the canticles or anything, so we didn't have any. We're just going with the flow here.

Luckily, the fire worked well because that afternoon I suddenly thought, "Hmmm...I wonder if anyone has got something for the new fire?" And lo! We went to the local Ace hardware and bought a little grill and some firestarter thingeys and tested them out and they worked great. So, yeah, fire.

And I got to sing the Exsultet. So that was fun. For me, anyway. I feel very clever: I photographed the Exsultet on my iPad so that I could have it backlit as I sang it in the dark. Isn't that clever? OK, I'll stop being smug about that now.

And I remembered to talk to the organist. So that's good.

That's more than enough for now. I'll cover Easter Sunday in another post.

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