Monday, April 28, 2014

Lent, Holy Week, Easter Week and Resurrection in Fort Worth

This year I was drafted along with J. to fill in for our pastor who needed some sabbatical time.  This has been both the hardest and the most beautiful Lent, Holy Week and Easter that I can remember.  I was also moving into new ministries in this parish.  I have picked up the college ministry at the University of Texas at Arlington and positions on the Executive Council and the Constitution and Canons Committee of the diocese.  And I thought I had retired!

Just before our priest-in-charge went on sabbatical she signed our parish up to participate in a 3 congregation sharing of Holy Week services.  Because of the schism we are a parish that meets in a theater, another congregation meets in a wedding chapel.  We do not have access to our meeting places on weekdays.  Another 'stone church', a parish that stayed with the Episcopal Church and consequently still has its own building, is going through the calling of a new rector.  They invited our congregations to celebrate together. We had the clergy but no building. It was a wonderful invitation but the logistics were complicated, to say the least.  However, everyone pitched in. 

Here in the Fort Worth we have deacons who take a significant part in the liturgical celebrations.  We also have a custom of vergers who are lay folk who 'direct liturgical traffic'.  That means that we have a lot more people trained and interested in the worship of the Church than I have experienced before.  And this means that there was a wealth of trained people who had a stake in how Holy Week was to be celebrated.  We also had 3 different sets of customary to attend to and 2 priests who have never  served Anglo-Catholic parishes in their careers. 

There were 3 very different musical traditions.  St. Alban's has a distinctly folk or even country and western style.  St. Stephens has often employed acapella singing and Taize chant.  St. Luke's has an organ and a more traditionally Episcopal musical tradition.  All three musical directors had envisioned these services differently.  But they worked together and compromised to produce lovely music for the Holy Triduum. Elements of all of the styles were present in the services although, I think some of the St. Alban's folks may have missed the tambourines.

An organist friend of mine once said:  "Do you know the difference between an organist and a terrorist?  You can negotiate with a terrorist!"  And I have certainly had some music directors like that
in my career.  And if truth be told, I have been that way myself, when I was directing choirs.  But I must admit, there was such a good spirit among the music directors that I felt privileged to work with them.  We 'caught' what each of us wanted to do and made it work as best we could.  I really felt that Holy Week liturgies were truly 'the work of the people.'

We had the regular amount of illness and death during Lent.  J., the
deacon and a seminarian  took on those duties.  I did the administrative stuff and somehow we made it through Easter.  When we took our usual Sunday afternoon nap neither of us woke until 9pm.  We did not know if it was night or morning of the next day.  I think that clergy tend to hold it together until the last Alleluia of the last service and then turn into peanut butter. I certainly did.  My body felt that I had fought Mayweather and my mind felt that the gray matter had turned into stone.  

I must admit resurrection has been long in coming.  I do not have the ability to return to normal (for whatever that is) as quickly as I once did.  So I am still dragging now in the 2nd week of Easter.  But now I am enjoying my garden, pruning tomato plants, picking out lettuce leaves for salads and enjoying spring weather before it gets too hot to sit on the patio.  I think that this is what I am supposed to do in retirement, and yet... and yet.... I am still on Executive Council and helping with the redraft of our Constitution.  Life is beginning to come back to center and I can truly sing: 

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!

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