My husband and I were both raised Baptist. We never observed Lent or carried
palms on Palm Sunday or went to Maundy Thursday services. Easter Sunday was,
always has been, a day of bliss-I remember a few precious little sunrise
services we held in the backyard with some of our dear friends growing up,
and I will always associate the almost raucously glad singing of He Lives
with the happiness of Resurrection morning! But in the Baptist church we
never really observed the full scope of the Church calendar, and perhaps
that’s why all its imagery and symbolism has such meaning for us now. It all
seems so fresh and poignant, so heavy with significance.
We attend a Presbyterian church-with occasional forays into Anglicanism when
our High Church yearnings mount to a certain point-and the everyday liturgy
is wine to our souls. And I am very much looking forward to our Good Friday
vespers in which our little choir will be performing Theodore Dubois’
exquisite The Seven Last Words of Christ. This will be my first donning of a
robe as I’m new to the choir, but I am told that it is a very moving service
indeed, conducted by candlelight which is slowly extinguished as the lessons
are read. At the end, we will be almost whispering Christ We Do All Adore
Thee from the back of the sanctuary and the evening will come to a close in
darkness and silence.
Between this and the Lent carols and songs I’ve been working on with my
friends I’ve felt the ground of my heart being slowly and thoughtfully
prepared for Easter. It just seems to me that without the weightiness of
some of these Church traditions-the delving into the sorrow of Christ’s
sufferings, this brooding upon the Cross-we lose so much potential for the
joy of what it all really means. Sadness gives context to our blessing and
gladness; darkness gives way to light just as winter gives way to spring and
death is swallowed up in victory! Weeping may endure for a night, but joy
cometh in the morning.and never morning dawned that those words were more
true than the day the women found our Saviour’s tomb empty!! Jumping into
the victory of Easter morning without the reflective remembrance of Lent
almost seems like eating dessert first.
Yesterday afternoon we listened to the third section of Handel’s Messiah, ‘A
Hymn of Thanksgiving for the final overthrow of Death’, with the libretto on
the laptop before us. It was to me the very music of Heaven-and, as always,
a great wonder that God in His kindness should endow a mortal man with the
ability to set His words to harmonies and choruses that break the heart with
their triumph and beauty. Listening to the Messiah is one of the most
worshipful things I can imagine. Except for singing it.
I wish you all a very Christ-filled Holy Week.