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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
 
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Friday, April 10th, 2009

Time Event
9:26a
"Stay here and keep watch with me..."
From Molly's email to the listserv this morning:
This morning at breakfast my three year old said to her grandfather, "Do you know what we goin' do on Easter, Grampa?" I braced myself for the inevitable litany of things the Easter Bunny was going to bring her.

"We're going to say (drops to sotto voce) hallelujah."

There is something to joy deferred.

There is something to going through hell, but knowing--knowing--you will come out the other side.

That is what Easter is for. Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.

Today, we weep. The church has been swept of communion crumbs, for today we have no communion with God. We feel our aloneness, the aloneness of Jesus.
I winced at the "today we have no communion with God," because God is ALWAYS with us -- but I know that sometimes we (try to) push God away, turn away from God (and I remembered how Palm Sunday is also Passion Sunday, how we are both the processing crowd waving palm branches and the gathered crowd shouting "Crucify," how were are all the people in these stories), and that sometimes our pain is too great for us to be able to recognize or feel God (and I pray that in those moments -- as in all moments -- we may encounter incarnate persons who can be God With Us).

***

And her March 31 email:
Beloved,

this year on Good Friday, as last year, the sanctuary will be open from 7:30a-5:30p for prayer, chant, reflection, meditation. Deacons, ministers, others will be available throughout the day for healing prayer.

Last year I made a little booklet with some quotes, prayers and poems to aid in reflection on the themes of Good Friday. Jamie is putting it together again for us. Let's expand it: do you have a favorite quotation or poem for inclusion? Something you've written, or read somewhere?

If so, please send it to ME by this Friday. I'll collate them all and pass them along. To jog you, some of the themes of Good Friday are:

death
shadow
injustice
empire
religious hypocrisy
mob mentality
bad news
the cross
redemption
suffering
prayer
fulfillment of prophecy
abiding trust in God
forgiveness
the betrayal by friends
the love and loyalty of a few, until the end
deep loneliness
grief

It is terrible to see these themes, so starkly, as a list. But these are all real things in our lives, that need and deserve our attention, our casting them onto God, our casting our lot with Jesus.

blessings
Molly
9:48p
Apparently Good Friday is where I'm at this year.
Around lunchtime I updated my facebook status: "Elizabeth is laying the brokenness of the world (especially of those whom she loves) at the foot of the cross of Jesus."

From the flist:
* Meditation for Good Friday
* "The Seven Last Words" by Mark Strand  [ha! Will posted that, too]

From the FCS UCC Good Friday booklet:  excerptsCollapse )

I passed Jeremy across the street this evening and when I realized he was waiting for me I said, "I'm going to different church," and he said, "You see the hand?" (a "talk to the hand" gesture, not flipping me off).  Except I'd forgotten that FCS UCC wasn't actually doing an evening Good Friday service, so I went to CAUMC after all.  I told Jeremy, "I lied," and explained that last night had been the most uninspiring Maundy Thursday service ever, hence my hesitation.  Marla said she had heard it was amazing and was sorry she hadn't been there.  I said that it tried, and there wasn't anything offensive, I just didn't find it powerful, but that I'm an outlier in most everything.

The Good Friday service was basically exactly the same as last year -- different Call to Worship, and the last Song of Response was "So Much Wrong," which I think Tallessyn said was a Middle Eastern song.

Again, the prayer themes seemed mostly unconnected to the verses they accompanied, which I didn't like.  I also wasn't a fan of how it's all "losses," because what I've been really thinking about is brokenness -- and the losses I have thought about don't necessarily fit into these categories so well.

We did the Affirmation of Faith responsively, and I was really struck by this portion:
When hope and fear were raging, when love was beaten down,
when hope was nailed and left to die,
Christ entered into our deep secret places
and went down into death to find us.
I've been thinking about the Creed recently, specifically the parts I hesitate to Affirm, so the echoes of Christ's descent into hell particularly stuck out at me.

Another change from last year's service is that after A Word of Release (John 19:29-30), there was Prayer of Response "A Loss of Life" and then a Stripping of the Altar.  We had just all symbolically laid our burdens on the Communion table (empty chalice on its side, plate with some cubes of bread), and the first thing Tiffany and Judy did was to put the stones back in the basin and take it away, and I had this initial immediate reaction of distress, like we were being erased.

The last thing was Tiffany lifted the open Bible off its holder, said, "It. Is. Finished." and slammed it shut.  She has strong presence, but stuff like that is always also particularly striking because of the contrast to how she normally does things.

There was silence for some time, and then Tiffany relit the big purple candle and brought it back and gave us a Blessing, noting that even in the darkness, "We know how this story ends."

***

In Daily Psalms, I'm at 44.  It begins as a praise to God for being on the speaker's side, but after the Selah things change.
9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
      you no longer go out with our armies.

[...]

17 All this happened to us,
      though we had not forgotten you
      or been false to your covenant.

18 Our hearts had not turned back;
      our feet had not strayed from your path.

19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals
      and covered us over with deep darkness.

[...]

23 Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
      Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.

24 Why do you hide your face
      and forget our misery and oppression?

25 We are brought down to the dust;
      our bodies cling to the ground.

26 Rise up and help us;
      redeem us because of your unfailing love.

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