Friday, April 2, 2010

Vows renewed, feet washed - and a drive up Highway 29

The Great Three Days, the Easter Triduum, began yesterday, the holiest of holy days on the Christian calendar. I had an unusual sense of calm throughout the day. Many hands, both staff and volunteers, have labored long in planning a series of worship services that we hope and pray will be meaningful and life transforming. We are ready.

So the best thing for me Thursday was to get out of town.

Associate Rector Ann Wilms and I drove an hour north to Culpeper and a gathering of clergy with Bishop David Jones for the renewal of our ordination vows.

The drive up Highway 29 is not usually the prettiest of drives in Virginia, with all of the strip malls and gas stations. But yesterday under a bright blue sky with the trees beginning the bud, the drive was gorgeous.

We gathered with Bishop Jones, he washed a few feet, we renewed our vows, he blessed chrism oils, and we went on our way.

A few of my friends recently have pointed out that these the annual Maundy Thursday gatherings with bishops are too clerically focused, and should instead become a larger gathering for the renewal of baptismal vows by everyone. I am inclined to agree with them. Yet, I find the renewal of ordination vows to be an important reminder to myself of the call to servant ministry, and the connection I have with others in ordained ministry in different places.

And I enjoyed getting out of town and driving. We even put on the air conditioner (weren't we just buried under a blizzard a few short weeks ago?).

In the evening at St. Paul's, we held the traditional Maundy Thursday worship with the washing of feet. I was quite moved at how many people came forward to have their feet washed. No one needed to be cajoled ahead of time to come forward. They simply came.

We celebrated our last Eucharist before Easter, and Deacon Heather Warren took consecrated bread to the chapel where it is remaining "in repose" until this evening when we will distribute it in silence. Good Friday and the Cross awaits.

Collect for Good Friday
Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your
family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be
betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer
death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and
the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Liturgical notes: Good Friday, the day of the crucifixion, is called "good" because Jesus comes to us where we suffer to show us the way out. At St. Paul's we will be holding four services on Good Friday. At noon we will gather for the three hours tradition holds that Jesus hung on the Cross. This year we've added reflections by seven people on seven characters in the passion story (Mother Mary, Peter, Mary Magdalene, Pilate, John, Herod, and Judas). We end this service at 3 pm with the tolling of the bell and we leave in silence.

We gather again at 5 pm for the Solemn collects of Good Friday, and I will be giving a homily. At the end of this service, we will distribute, in silence, the bread (wafers) that we have reserved in the chapel from Maundy Thursday.

The Stations of the Cross will be offered at 6:30 pm in the nave.

Then at 8 pm, we gather again for Tenebrae, a contemplative service of readings from Lamentations and chanted psalms from our schola choir. The word "Tenebrae" means shadows, and we will sit in the dim light of the evening for this moving service.

We are also offering the opportunity for private confessions (Reconciliation of a Penitent) between the services. No appointments are necessary. Please come to the chapel if you'd like to make a confession.

May you have a holy and live giving three days.

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