Friday, April 18, 2014

Flickers and Figments of (Good) Fridays


Many Good Friday thoughts and memories today:

I’ve been fasting on Good Friday since I was 16 years old, 2/3 of my life. In recent practice I fast for 40 hours on Good Friday and Ash Wednesday, and one 24-hour day during the weeks of Lent in between.  I also used to not do my hair or make-up, but one of my college profs (whose class, and exam, I had requested to skip in observance of the Holy Day) called me on that, saying, “Isn’t is supposed to be that no one knows you’re fasting?” (Mt 6:16-18) [I did get permission, from that Roman Catholic prof, to take the test a different day.] 

Good Friday, 1988 I hosted a small group of people at my home for a Good Friday worship service, at which we read some scripture, prayed, and sang “O Sacred Head”. Our presence was required at a work-related dinner, and none of us wanted to miss observing the day. 

When we lived on Long Island, Phil participated in a Via Crucis among the Latino community with whom he served as pastor there. One of my favorite pix of him is from that event. 

Shortly after moving to Texas, all four of us walked in the Via Crucis in San Antonio—what a powerful and culturally interesting event!

Good Friday Hill Country Stations of the Cross hosted by First Christian (Disciples) and St. Mark’s Episcopal Churches in San Marcos—beautiful and striking setting for contemplating this day.

Maundy Thursday and Good Friday observed on Wednesday in Holy Week at TLU; a combined service telling the bulk of the story.

Tre Ore service at First English in Austin; Craig Sommer and Lou Flessner preached before and after me, in turn.

Trying to black out windows in a sanctuary with a 100-foot-long aisle (big sanctuary!) in Janesville, WI, for a noontime tenebrae service

Acquiring my first cassock to be appropriately attired for the evening tenebrae service at Epiphany, Hempstead, NY

A young Lucas observing, “Mom and Jason can’t eat supper with us because they’re starving”.  He may have been onto something, several hours into our fast!


As I walked this morning, I saw a flag at half-mast, and wondered about who was charged to come to a public school that was off for the holiday to raise the flag. I then thought about how many reasons the flag may be at half-mast: recent shooting at Ft. Hood, ferry accident killing students in South Korea, school girls abducted in Nigeria, Jesus dying on a cross.  Good Friday happens all around us, all the time—senseless, unjustifiable killing of God’s beloved people and creation. And that is why this Friday is Good Friday (or “God’s Friday”, I saw posted earlier): for all the evil and heartbreak we continue to perpetrate, God still looks at this creation and proclaims us “good”, and when we can’t live into that divine description, God still works to make us so—reclaiming, redeeming, restoring, re-creating, reimagining us. This Friday is not good for God; it isn’t good for us who wish we could be different, who love Jesus and don’t mean to hurt him. But it’s good work that God does in Christ, showing us holy love that knows no limits.

Please remember we are in the midst of Triduum—THREE days. They are not about death, they are about depth, the depth of God’s love for creation, which, finally, is not shown on the cross, but in resurrection.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Holy Week What-for

The Triduum, “three days”, are upon us.

I’ve been caught in the quagmire that is this week: for some people, this is a time of holiday, some free time to do extra things around the yard, visit family, hunt for candy-filled eggs. For my Jewish friends in Texas (and other places, surely), it’s a time to remember that some holidays are more observed, more understood, more accommodated than others—Passover being one of the “less so” around here. And for us who observe Holy Week that leads to Easter, it is a time of reflection, a time set-apart, a time intended to be different from other Time. There are rituals and rhythms unlike other times of the year, feelings and questions unique to the holiness of this week.

And I am reminded that part of the call to holiness is that we pray on behalf of others who are not praying, observe the days for those who are not able or allowed to observe or practice for a variety of reasons, many beyond their control. I am not the type to get annoyed by or angry with those who are not doing what I am doing these three holy days; rather, when I am weary, those “others” are precisely for whom I must take the next step on the labyrinth, listen to one more last word of Christ from the cross, and wait, and wait, keeping vigil in the silence of the unknown. I do not believe Christ died to take away my sins, but rather that all of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection are God’s way of reconciling all of creation. Indeed, the “work” we do these three days is holy, walking alongside what God is doing in Christ Jesus, for the sake of the world. 

Blessed Triduum to all (and, since I probably won’t write on Sunday—Happy Easter, too!)