Palm Sunday was two days ago, and my first experience of liturgy here at Trinity. I was overwhelmed with the rich wonder of experiencing this church in worship for the first time. From the peaceful 8 AM, through the tumult of the 9:15 and then on to the "last but not least" 11:15, I had a great time celebrating one of the toughest Sundays of the Church Year with a new congregation...and we got through with relatively few bumps and bruises along the way. Aside from a weepy sky, soggy ground and a slightly reluctant "palomino donkey" (actually a pony named Leo) that would rather have grazed the palms, rather than walking on them...we did all right. Even when, being a bit unused to the microphone provided for the rector, I graced the congregation repeatedly with a deafening roar when I bent over, gestured or sat down in a particular way, grazing a VERY live mic across my vestments.
I had two really profound surprises that Sunday. The first was how wild it was to be back in the liturgical "pocket" after over two weeks away. Wearing vestements, doing three services and meeting just over 350 people face to face for the first time really took it out of me. The second surprise caught me in much the same way. When the 8 AM was over, I walked out into a hallway literally packed with people waiting to get in to church. THAT is a GOOD thing! Not that I kept them waiting, but that we should have such problems...Amen.
Monday was a bit quieter. I made time for myself to study and take a few minutes in between meetings for prayer and reflection on this new call. I am beginning to work on what I think will be a two fold study draft of my "job description" that I will take up with the wardens and vestry. This will, I hope, also begin to give us some direction as we end this program year and begin to look forward to what our common ministry goals will be in the short term, this first year together, and in the future, thinking about a long term set of strategic and visionary goals.
Monday night brought two experiences: the first was my first meeting with the artistic appointments group and the second was my first liturgy (monday of Holy Week) in the Chapel. Both were illuminating. I give thanks to God to have a group of people so mindful of the impact that our use and decoration of space makes on the community at large. They are struggling with the design and installation of the organ...and I asked them to take up the challenge of designing a set of vestments for ordinary time...a green set...that is lacking in our collection at this point. The line was that it should be simple, but very fine. I will be in touch with Worship and Spiritual Life and the Altar Guild to network them in on the idea.
Simple...but fine: I took that thought into my preaching on the woman with the jar of nard annointing Jesus at the tableside. In John, it is Mary, sister to Martha and Lazarus, who approaches Jesus at a large dinner gathering with a pound of nard...and amazingly expensive ointment. She breaks the jar and uses her hands and hair to anoint Jesus' feet, to the astonishment of those present. Judas objects, saying that the waste of that money could be better used on the feeding of the poor...an object lesson of balancing the extravagant gestures we make on behalf of the aesthetic and the call of the ascetic. A distinct challenge for affluent churches. We need to preserve and propagate the "beauty of holiness" while at the same time living out the gospel clarion to seve and love our neighbors as ourselves...without regard to station, status, etc. Definitely a creative tension. I asked the congregation to jump into that tension. I think that is the very thing God desires of us in Holy Week...to submit ourselves to the knowing and not knowing of the resolution to this aweful drama of Jesus' last days among us as companion and friend...and of the incredible experience of the transformation of the assembly into the community of the resurrection.
God keep us on this journey.