Posted on by Howard Pugh
I draw your attention to the fact I will be selling tickets to the Holy Week services during the coffee hour. This year you will be able to pay by credit card: just full out this gray form (yes, it does look like the pledge card, but don’t let that distract you). Sign at the bottom, fill in your credit card information, and we’ll take it from there. (I am joking)
Fortunately, the price has already been paid, for us all.
I was born after WWII into a predominately Christian culture that embraced what the contemporary theologian Diana Butler Bass call the “vertical church”: God up there, the devil down there, and the church mediating the space in between. I no longer believe in the vertical church, and I have lived long enough to know I do not have to descent to encounter hell. My beliefs have changes, but I still attend church. I come for the Word and the sacraments, specifically the meal at that table; I come for the liturgy; and I come to be with you, as part of the body of Christ.
You have friends and I have friends who, when asked their religious affiliation, respond, “None,” or in the more trendy fashion, “Done,” as in been there, done that. You and I have friends who do not encounter God in church but rather in the forest, or at the bay, or in the backyard garden. I am very sympathetic to those who insist they are spiritual, not religious. I, on the other hand, am part of a small minority of believers who self-identify as more religious than spiritual. But that balance shifts dramatically at one point in the church year—during Holy Week, which I find an intensely spiritual experience.
The Wednesday service is called Tenebrae, which literally means darkness. It is the opening of a shadow-filled passageway that leads to the Triduum Sacrum, the three holy days—Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday—which commemorate the Last Supper, the Passion, and the Death of Christ. The Holy Week passageway for me is through these ancient, highly evocative services, some elements dating to the beginnings of the Christion church. That solemn, sad journey leads inextricably to, and through, the dark silence of a tomb, but it ends Saturday evening in startling light and joyful cacophony.
I maintain that we cannot experience fully the exultation of Easter morning unless we have arrived there by this path, by the way of the cross.