Sabbatical Blog

...chronicling some of my projects and learnings during this time apart from parish ministry

Friday, April 14, 2006

Good Friday Faith

I went to a Good Friday service at my local, friendly Episcopal Church this evening. The priest, just returned from a sabbatical time in Mexico, said that in Mexico Holy Week is a very big deal, with processions in the street and church services every day. It all culminates Friday night when the whole town processes through the streets and crowds into the church. On Easter morning, on the other hand, the streets are deserted and the churches hold small combined services for the daily worshippers. Everyone else has a quiet morning at home with the family.

In America, it's the other way around. Churches are packed on Easter morning with folks dressed in their finest clothes, for the big triumphal day of light and gladness, while on Good Friday only a fraction of Christians are in church.

We, the fraction, had a moment's pleasure of smugness.

I wanted to go to church on Thursday, rather than Friday, because Thursday in the Psychology of Holy Week fits my general mood. Nothing too bad has happened, but there's the sense of coming change, perhaps doom, and yet we enjoy food and friends and the holiday in spite of our foreboding, and move through our assigned parts in faith that things will work out. That's the general mood I'm in lately. But the only Christian Church in town that I really trust was doing footwashing and Eucharist last night, and Eucharist is restricted to "any baptized person", which they mean to be extremely inclusive but doesn't include me. So I went tonight, guessing that there would be no Eucharist, and there wasn't.

The Priest's theory about Mexican Holy Week is that the Mexican people are so often ground down by the difficulties of their lives and they can really identify with Jesus' suffering and with the dignified and faith-filled way he went to his death. "Into Your hands, I commend my spirit,". The priest commended this surrendered attitude to us all, wondering if we could go through our lives, not with "faith in" (being rescued from whatever trouble we're in), but simply with faith.

So I got my sermon for my general mood anyway, and it spoke to my condition, as my Baptist friends used to say. So, Global Warming, Iranian Crisis, Population Bomb, these things will come and we will cope as best we can, in faith and with love, and perhaps even, with purpose and joy.

And for those who will speak words of hope on the day of light and gladness to the well-dressed throngs, Blessings!

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