Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Holy Week: To sit at a table, eat a piece of fish

I kept reminding myself all day: It's only Tuesday. . . It's only Tuesday. . .

We had a productive staff meeting, plotting our way through the rest of Holy Week and Easter. The clergy, music leaders and acolyte leaders then held a walk-through in the church, going through all of the details from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday. Do we have enough candles for the congregation at the Great Vigil? Check.

Does anyone know where the candelabra for Tenebrae is stashed? How about towels for Maundy Thursday? Let's go look.

Meanwhile, John in the office slogged his way through detail after detail in the programs, rubric upon rubric. He had a few questions. We needed all of our collective brains to come up with answers. On went the day.

At noon we paused for our Tuesday Holy Eucharist. All of the St. Paul's clergy attended. We are the church, right? And we are supposed to be praying, that is what all these details are supposed to be about, right? The Rev. Dr. Heather Warren was celebrant and preacher, and she gave us a few needed moments of laughs and prayer. Then it was back to writing sermons, proofing programs, looking at covers. I began to feel like a movie director looking for "high production value."

So I went to the hospital to visit a very sick parishioner. I stayed about an hour. We visited, and I was reminded again that Holy Week for some is more than about production value; it is about living on the precipice between life and death. And it comes to all of us, sooner or later.

Then it was back to the office and a few more details. My printer broke down. Time to go home.

It was Tuesday in Holy Week, a day that seems like the fulcrum for all that comes next in Holy Week. The Great Three Days will soon be here but not yet. Today, it's only Wednesday.

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Among the most fascinating poets I have ever met is Franz Wright, who won a Pulitzer in 2004.   He is the son of another Pulitzer prize recipient, James Wright, and Franz's mother is a very close friend of mine. A few years ago, we got him to read a few of his poems at our parish in Sacramento from his book, God's Silence. This poem says more about Holy Week than most sermons I've ever heard (or preached) and with many fewer words:

By Franz Wright

To sit at a table with Jesus
and eat a piece of fish
after his death, I don't think I could
bear it. But today I am following
in the blue stained-glass footsteps of a doctor who works with doomed children,
of the old poet, the rays in my eyes
walking to Heaven
which is not far--
a little face turns to the window
and it is there.

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