Thursday, April 05, 2007

Anticipating Agape

For the past few days, I have been staggering into Holy Week. Not an unusual experience for me in parish ministry. The challenge of being a priest to a parish community is that my early formation in the Holy Week liturgies took place in the context of seminary. That meant being in community, with minimal distractions, for this season of the Church Year. It meant very few forays out into the city for this reason or that...and that our time and effort could be extended to the simple reality of the cycles of worship, reflection and preparation for worship.



Not so in the parish. We live in a busy world out here, and Holy Week always happens within a context of time stolen from other pursuits. That bears true for both my parishioners and for the clergy and lay staff here at Trinity. The noise of life presses in as we try to draw nearer to God and to each other. Everything from taxes to the crisis with the British soldiers held hostage in Iran intrudes. Life itself serves up countless distractions.



That quiet, contemplative experience of Holy Week lived out with intention in a communal context, I am convinced, is a bit of a welcome illusion.



The reality is being challenged to notice the life-altering realities of Holy Week amidst the distractions of the world.



Christ's arrest, imprisonment and death did not stop the world from turning. Few marked the moment at all, really.



And yet, it has changed the world.



Time to remember that discontinuity and to celebrate it. 2000 years later and we are still struggling to understand what it all means. The cross is wrong. The mourning is real. The tomb is empty.



What does it all mean?



It means that when I get a call an hour before a liturgy to anoint a woman who may be dying, I respond without anxiety. The liturgy will still be there. It means when a parishioner collapses in the midst of a worship service that both my attendance at the ER with his wife and the continuation of the liturgy under the hands of my Sunday Associate are both evidence of Holy Week lived out and fulfilled in our presence.



It means we all face and embrace our moments on the cross as Christ does, with fear and trembling and willingness to embrace life as it is proferred to us and not as we would have it. From that point, we begin to adopt kingdom eyes.



Amen.





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