Last year I wrote these words in March:
Holy Week begins. This sacred time invites us into these days of exhilaration, intrigue, theological arguments, exhaustion, betrayal, injustice, trial and execution. That is a great deal of drama to pack in one short week. Yet, often life is like that, perhaps not the extreme ups and downs of being hailed the savior of the world on one day and being crucified and mocked on another, but we know those ups and downs.
Holy Week is a time filled with highs and lows and deep questions about justice and love and a longing for that reign of God that Jesus promised. For me, Holy Week is a reminder of how fast myself and many others can go from the high of exciting parade, to the rage of a violent mob. God moves through love, but sometimes that love is too much to take.
So I enter Holy Week acknowledging my complicity in the evil that often poses as neutrality and thoughtfulness in the world. I acknowledge the sin of my silence, when my voice would make a difference. My own Holy tradition is filled with music that reminds me of those last days and hours of Jesus’ life. Perhaps not “traditional” music, but it is good for my soul:
At First UMC are multiple opportunities to move with God through this sacred time. On our website all the special services are listed. Today’s worship service can be found here
In our Christ Memorial Chapel are windows depicting the life of Jesus. These amazing works of art filled with joy each week. In the center lower section is the scene that we remember on this day:
I invite you to move with me this week through these hard and holy days that we may be ready to have the eyes to see and the ears to hear the Good News of Christ’s resurrection!
It has been a long day. Sunday’s usually are, but today came with two worship services, a “pizza with pastors” and a funeral. So it would be an understatement to say I am tired. I am tired and blessed.
Today was in church terms Consecration or Stewardship Sunday. Many congregations spend a few weeks preparing their congregations to offer pledges to budget for the coming year of ministry. Churches do this because it’s practical. Money is needed to pay the bills.
Today was that day at the church I serve West Heights United Methodist Church. This would not normally be a problem, but I am not one of those preachers that can ignore what is happening in my community, state, nation or world. When the news hit about Paris and Beirut, I knew my sermon would have to change.
The interesting thing is that the prayers and liturgy didn’t change. The words of the music and scripture and prayers fit today, even though they had been written and chosen over two weeks ago.
Right before my sermon, the plan had been for our Worship team to sing a song with a running powerpoint with all the pictures of the ministry and mission we had been engaged in for 2015. The song was from Broadway revival of Godspell. the song was Beautiful City using the updated lyrics as heard in this youtube video.
The lyrics were perfect to speak of the call to be in ministry not just in 2015, but in 2016 and 2017 and the years to come. The terrorists that continue to try and break people’s spirits, to force people to live in fear will not succeed as long as there are people who are willing to stand up and live and build a reign of justice and peace.
Out of the ruins and rubble
Out of the smoke
Out of our night of struggle
Can we see a ray of hope?
One pale thin ray reaching for the day
We can build a beautiful city
Yes, we can; Yes, we can
We can build a beautiful city
Not a city of angels
But we can build a city of man
Good Friday is always a day of pondering for me. I have a few rituals that I engage in each year during the final week of Lent, called Holy Week. I ALWAYS listen to Jesus Christ Superstar ( the original cast) and Godspell ( the original cast recording) and then add some other music that seems appropriate for these last days of Lent.
After the evening Tenebrae service I have another tradition. I watch the movie Jesus Christ Superstar. I know it is SOOO 1970’s, but it has been my tradition for many years. When it first came out, it was shown at the midnight movie each year on Good Friday. After that, I searched for it in video stores and finally purchased my own copy.
My poor children were, of course, subject to this every year. I am happy to say my daughter continues the tradition of listening to this “holy week” music.
This year, however I came across this piece of music. It is from the Psalm Project. It is a new version of Psalm 22 put to music. That psalm is difficult at best to read, but this musical rendition is hauntingly beautiful. It is a sign of hope for me that Jesus knew what it felt like to feel abandoned, betrayed and all alone. On this Good Friday, I share this piece music with faith for presence, peace and new life promised in Easter.
On this Good Friday, I am graced to serve.