the unfolding of holy week...

As Holy Week 2014 unfolds among us - with some families taking vacation time away - many of us grieve the most recent gun attack in Kansas City.  In what was intended as a hate-crime against Jews at a Jewish center by a lifelong anti-Semite, the shooter ended up murdering three Christians.  What a bitter and ugly irony.  In this morning's NY Times, columnist David Brooks reflects on the ethical values celebrated by our cousins in faith as they mark yet one more Passover. "In Moses, the leader of Israel's liberation," Brooks writes, "there is the quality of anivut."

"Anivut, Rabbi Norman Lamm once wrote, means a soft answer to a harsh challenge; silence in the face of abuse; graciousness when receiving honor; dignity in response to humiliation; restraint in the presence of provocation; and forbearance and quiet calm when confronted with calumny and carping criticism." 

Brooks makes clear that leaders - political and spiritual - must practice the binding and training of their souls so that we move beyond our wounds.  Without this, we will pass on our own pain and hurt others in the process.  Clearly, the witness of Jesus moving through his betrayal and passion highlights what "anivut" looks like for those with eyes to see.  As another wise teacher, Richard Rohr, has written:

All healthy religion shows you what to do with your pain. Great religion shows you what to do with the absurd, the tragic, the nonsensical, the unjust. If only we could see these “wounds” as the way through, as Jesus did, then they would become “sacred wounds” and not something to deny, disguise, or export to others.If we cannot find a way to make our wounds into sacred wounds, we invariably become negative or bitter. Indeed, there are bitter people everywhere. As they go through life, the hurts, disappointments, betrayals, abandonments, the burden of their own sinfulness and brokenness all pile up, and they do not know where to put it. If we do not transform our pain, we will most assuredly transmit it.

And so we, too, gather to observe and mark another Holy Week in pursuit of God's transforming love.  Here's what's going on this week...

HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE AT FIRST CHURCH:

+ Maundy Thursday - April 17 - 7:00 p.m.:  The heart of this gathering is humility and servanthood as expressed in the footwashing and Passover meal Jesus shared with his first disciples.  My message will explain - and demonstrate - the origins of both before we celebrate the Eucharist one last time before Easter Sunday.  NOTE: Our Sunday School staff - and childcare worker - will be present for this service and children are welcomed and encouraged to be present.  After the first 20 minutes, Crystal, Mark, and Janet will take out children out of worship for their own Maundy Thursday event as we move into the service of Tenebrae.  I am so very grateful for our Sunday School staff's commitment to not only be present, but to help our children go deeper.

+ Good Friday - April 18 - 7:00 p.m.:  MISUNDERSTOOD. Good Friday is a time for deep reflection on what is broken, what is wounded and what is sinful within and among us. It is a meditation on consciously moving through death into new life - including both grief and suffering - that can transform death into Christ-like compassion.  Our band and others have been working on a liturgy that explores not only how we often misunderstand the love of God, but how those misunderstandings erupt into wounds.  This team has written biblical narratives based on Mary Magdalene, Judas, Peter and the mother of Jesus, Mary as one way to crack open the theme of misunderstanding; contemporary music by U2, Mose Allison, Mindy Smith, Mason Jennings and the Police will be shared, too.  Our Sunday School staff and childcare folk will be present, too should some of our younger participants need a break. The liturgy will conclude with extinguishing candles on a 10' cross.  

+ Holy Saturday Easter Vigil - April 19 -  8:00 p.m.:  I have been invited to bring the sermon at this ecumenical Easter Vigil celebration hosted at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church.  I am grateful and humbled because this is such a beautiful liturgy that traces the movement of God's love in time that climaxes in the Resurrection. I hope some will join me for this sacred time.

+ Feast of the Resurrection - Easter Sunday - April 20 - 10:30 a.m.:  We return to our own sanctuary for Holy Communion and the joy of God's love made real in Christ's triumph over the grave.  Our choir will sing, our children will be present for part of the joy and then return for Holy Communion and the people of God will bring honor to the Lord through prayer and praise.

Comments

Peter said…
I found this meditation to be very timely and helpful, James. Thanks.
RJ said…
Thank you my man!

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