holy week/hell week...

I know that it sounds rude, but holy week has often been called "hell week" by those who work in the world of the church... And while I understand this casual lament by church workers, I have never really bought into it because no matter how much work this season is, it is still always a privilege to take this journey with others in a deep and intentional way.

I really mean that. Yes, I get stressed out - and in my early days in ministry I used to freak out when parts of the liturgical celebrations went south - oh it was horrible. My children can tell stories of me spewing flame and anger when some befuddled deacon turned the lights ON rather than OFF during a Good Friday veneration of the Cross - or when some goofy usher passed out the wrong bulletins for the Easter Vigil only to try and make an exchange during the chanting of the ancient prayers - or the sound system in the Sanctuary exploding into a barrage of static during a Tenebrae silence.

Now don't get me wrong, I don't like human error during worship - and do my best to plan and practice against it - but let's just say that... um it seems to me like it goes with the territory, yes?

So this week I will join my congregation as we gather on Maundy Thursday to ponder the connection between the Passover feast and Christ's passion. On Good Friday, we'll use the music of U2 and others - including contemporary visual artists and poets - to see where the paradox of God's presence is breaking in through the darkness. On Saturday, many of us will gather to celebrate the birthday of the first African American clergy person in the Berkshires, Samuel Harrison, at Second Congregational Church (brother Harrison was the chaplain to the black troops in the film "Glory."

And then on Sunday we will regroup for the festival of the resurrection. It is a joyous, demanding and full journey. And while it takes its toll on us all emotionally and spiritually, it is never hell. Makes me think of Bob Dylan's total gospel rave-out, "Saved" which one incarnation of my band played for my ordination. I don't fully embrace the totality of this theology - but I do dig the full tilt groove - and still find myself singing right along with his gospel choir. Blessings.


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