Friday, March 30, 2012

Holy Week Friday Five

From today's Friday Five, brought to us by Mary Beth:

Holy Week is upon us.

Realizing that most of our readers are clergy, and that clergy don't necessarily have the opportunity to fully worship when they are responsible for leading (creating, writing, facilitating) worship:

I invite you to share five favorite Holy Week things, five things that are truly worshipful for you. 
It may be that it's the way they are done in your congregation (or were done in a previous one).  It may be your personal preparation for certain services or observances.  

Breathe.  Be still.  Look to the week ahead, and Holy Weeks past, and imagine the worship.

Bonus:  a piece of music that "is" Holy Week for you.

I'm not sure that I have five.   Holy Week has been precarious ground for me the last few years and, not having really grown up in the church, I don't have longstanding memories to which I can return.  But let's see how far I get:

1.  The Tenebrae Service (at my "home church" which is no longer my home church) ~ deeply moving.

2.  The Easter Vigil, to which I was introduced by Catholic friends and which I am now introducing, in a much abbreviated version, to my new home church, the one I pastor.  I am particularly fond of the fire outdoors with which we begin.  Many of the men in my rural church are members of the volunteer fire department, and I think they're afraid that this practice might catch on.  No pun intended.

3. The Easter Sunrise service, co-celebrated by four local Methodist churches, in the cemetery where I walk.  A large cross stands above a gravesite on the edge of a ravine, and as we gaze at it we look east and the sun rises behind it.

4.  The couple of blocks walk to the sunrise service, with the full moon above.  This short journey, like all of this week, is a tough one, as Josh always  accompanied me.  He was with me this year, maybe 2006:

5.  Something new, and I have no idea whether this will be worshipful or not.  My congregation wanted to host a Maundy Thursday service with a meal, a celebration of communion, and a concluding drama of the Garden of Gethsemane.  I have written the drama and distributed the scripts, and now I have the task of convincing actors and audience alike that we want to approach this minute production from a contemplative, prayerful stance.  I have invited the actors, in particular, to spend some time imagining themselves into their roles, praying their way into the evening and what it means, whether as Jesus, as followers or traitor, as soldiers, as curious or accusatory bystanders.  It's been worshipful for me to plan it all, but whether I can convey that to others remains a matter of speculation.

Well, I guess I do have five!  And the music bonus is an obvious one, although it's taken me four years to be able to listen to it again since, sadly, it now reflects personal experience.  Herewith,as sung by King's College Choir, of course:


  1. I love O Sacred Head, Now Wounded

    1. this is beautiful--I am so with you on Easter Vigil, and truly had forgotten about Easter Sunrise, since I haven't attended one for a while. thanks and peace!

  2. Many times the creation of a worship service or a piece of it is part of my spiritual practices which stays with me...not in the words per se...but in the sacred ground that it is.

  3. I grew up in a non-liturgical church, all of what I have come to love about Holy Week is the end result of 23 years in the Episcopal Church. So I really understand not having childhood memories to rely on. But, I have been creating and participating in Holy Week services for 16 years, so I do have some memories to lean in to - many different ideas...

    I hope this is a blessed Holy Week for you and your congregation.

  4. Thank you for sharing both thoughts and images, so many poignant memories. I pray for fresh blessings for you this Holy Week.

  5. Robin - last year Joe created an enactment of the book of Job and invited 8 members of our parish to participate. We ended up having about 80 people come for the 'show' and then followed that with light refreshment. It is still talked about with great fondness by many in our parish, and this group of 8 has actually become Joe's new "Lectio Divina" group that he meets with to read the Gospel when he's preparing a homily.

    In one of his homiletics classes the teacher suggested gathering a group of parishioners together and doing Lectio on the Gospel, and then soliciting from them their word or phrase - the one that leaps out for them. He suggested that this is an excellent way to get to know the parish audience, and that you will eventually open up the scope of your own understanding of the Gospel. So far that has been very much the case.

    I wish you a blessed week ahead.

    Much love.

  6. Cindy, that's a great idea, and really helps me in thinking how to approach our one real rehearsal tomorrow. They have their scripts; I think I will do a lectio exercise with them based on the words in their parts.

    I did try a lectio group back in October but only a few very people came and it was all new to them and then cancer intervened and . . . well, you are inviting me to re-think and re-try: thank you!

  7. Good luck Robin wth the Maundy Thursday service, I hope it all goes well. I haven't heard that piece of music before, it's very moving and powerful. And the sunrise and moon photos are beautiful too.

  8. I'll also tell you that this group of Deacons is currently in a GREAT class on preaching John and Paul. The teacher is a Deacon from Iowa and he is grueling in the assignments. (Personally, I think they could all use a little more grueling, but that's just me).

    Anyway, he assigned them a book by a woman named Marilyn J. Salmon - Preaching Without Contempt. You might find it interesting. Not that YOU need it - but I think it is remarkable, and good, that these mean are being exposed to this female point of view and the wise words she has to say about preaching.

    Lectio can be awkward at first, for folks who have not practiced it, but I find that even just a taste of it brings some amazing results. Like meditation it doesn't have to be done "perfectly" it seems that God is more than willing to meet us way more than halfway there!