Saturday, April 07, 2007

My Maundy Thursday Adventure

I have nothing to say about my last-minute, no-script Good Friday gig other than to observe that liturgies are a good gift of God -- a gift that keeps worship from dissolving into chaos and lets everyone participate in an easily understandable way, instead of people, including worship leaders, standing around going D'oh. And that I don't do spontaneity well.

Anyway...on Maundy Thursday, Fellow Traveler and I decided to forego our own church's agape meal service, due to her dietary considerations and also because neither of us really wanted to have to go through the small-group performances at our table that that service entails; we wanted a more traditional service, from a vantage point in a back pew, where we could melt into the crowd and worship without having to role-play or read aloud individually.

So we went to a combined ELCA/Episcopal Maundy Thursday service in our area, in a tiny Episcopal church that I've worshipped in before. We sat in our car and waited until a decent number of people had entered, and then walked in.

We met a friendly gauntlet of laypeople from the host church, who greeted us warmly. We took our places at the back and enjoyed the Abendsonnenschein casting an otherworldly glow upon the venerable stained glass windows.

It was a very calming, meaningful service. And, actually, service was the theme of the evening -- in lieu of foot-washing, we all processed up to the front after the sermon, and the presiding clergypeople anointed the palms of our hands; it was a gentle and moving act. We sang "The Servant Song" and "I, The Lord of Sea and Sky," as well as some of the traditional Passion Week hymns that I in my middle age miss singing. (It's hard, these days of studied perkiness, to belong to the Society For the Preservation of Minor Chords.) After the Eucharist, women I assumed were from the Altar Guild slowly and solemnly stripped the altar and removed the reserved sacrament from the sanctuary; the lights slowly dimmed; and we left in silence.

Because I overthink everything, I came to the service with a certain feeling of unease as a kind of ecclesiatical tourist -- especially on this evening, when one might assume that one would want to be in an intimate gathering with one's own church family. But it was a good thing, I think, that we went.


Teri said...

this sounds beautiful. And I'm stealing the anointing of people's palms...that's such a great idea...

I too belong to the SFPMC! I convinced organist and senior pastor to sing Ride On Ride On last week without changing the final chord to major. It was great. there's too much insistence on freakin' being happy these days. what if you're not happy? what if it's HOLY WEEK and you aren't supposed to be happy?

sorry, soapbox got crushed in my foot-stomping insistence. so I'm going to bed.

Glad you had a good MT.

Cory said...

This is one of those stories that reminds me that even though the people in your home congregation are the ones you've formed specific relationships with, the whole Church is our family. It's easy enough to forget that kind of thing in the debates of the introweb, but we're reminded when we slip so comfortably into another church's worship.

Anyways, hey! Today's Easter! He is risen!

P.S. an after-thought said...

If you haven't been reading The Psaltery, you might want to check it out to be reminded of the good 'ol Lenten hymns. Words, though, no music. But the Hymn words are powerful, maybe a more powerful reminder of Christ's sacrifice than anything else during Lent.

Rev Scott said...

The anointing of palms sounds like it would be a good fit for our Norwegian, very-leery-of-vulnerability congregation. Thanks for sharing.