10 April 2009

Good Friday

It's here. Last night's Mandatum (foot-washing) service was one of the most lovely ones I've ever been to. I took the rugrat, and she was incredibly good. The very quiet, solomn service obviously touched her and I'd spent some time beforehand explaining why the priests were washing our feet, as a way of showing us about love as service to others. The bit that got her most though was at the end, following the last supper, when the sanctuary was stripped - altar cloth, candles, processional cross, even the Wardens' staffs were removed, and all the lights turned out except the one behind the big cross on the wall while we were singing the Taize chant Stay with me. The "big dark church" got her - she wanted to know why it was dark, but also understood that "Jesus was hurting" and we needed to stay with him. I took her into the Lady Chapel to see the altar of repose where the consecrated Host was and explained that someone would be with Jesus all night.

After I took her home to bed, I went back for some of the vigil (St James does it in hour-long shifts). It's been a long time since I've been able to go to the vigil and I'm glad I did. It was mostly a time of just being - not trying to pray or think too much, just trying to be. I needed that.

Today's Good Friday liturgy at the foot of the cross (the short one - we didn't try for the 3-hour vigil this afternoon) was simple, and symbolic, and moving. It captured the pain and heartache that is Good Friday. One thing I love about St James is we don't try to move through Easter too quickly. We let ourselves experience that darkness, the loss, the pain, the hurting, the grieving of God, and fully feel that, before we move onto the explosion of light and joy on Sunday. But we can't get to the joy before we've felt the pain. We live in the waiting time.

Pachyderm tssf

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