I want to try to capture some of the essence of this Easter before it gets lost in the wild blur of getting back to my last two days of work and getting ready for the BE....the pace is at full hurtle and I think will stay there until my seat hits the plane on Wednesday afternoon. I find myself envying my clergy sisters and brothers who have Mondays off as I sit at the desk of the day job and look at the things I have to do still from last week, as well as the lists of the lists to be done before I go! And all I really want to do is bask in the Easter glow.
Easter really started sneaking up on me on Saturday. Sacrilege though that may be to religious purists, in some time zone somewhere, Jesus was up and moving! We'd had choir practice on Saturday morning, our little choir of six, and our exceedingly talented, funny and sometimes frustrating ( partly because I suspect he is so talented) organist and choirmaster. We rehearsed our two anthems and practiced our processing, we ran through the four hymns and the communion meditation, we talked about how the psalm would be chanted. I felt it begin to build in me....that little frisson of joy, that incipient alleluia that just would not be contained....even if the calendar kept saying "tomorrow." I looked around at the bare stark altar, the cross made of the pine tree leaning against it, and told myself..."wait." It is our tradition to hold a very small Holy Saturday service at noon. This ends our choir practice, and even though we advertise it with our Holy Week services, usually only the choir attends. This year, three others came. A man from a group home in town, one of our Presbyterian friends and our adult acolyte and someday "possible discerning deacon." We invited them to join us in the choir, which in our church in fine Anglican tradition is actually on the altar. Two hymns, three readings, a collect and a benediction. The final hymn was "Were You There" and as I stood with this tiny group, yes, yes, I was....because I knew without a doubt why he did this. For just the likes of us who stood there on a blustery Saturday morning. For the ten of us, who could have been anywhere else, but who were there, then in that space and time, hearing it one more time, how he died....for love of us, for us.
We left that bare space for awhile knowing we had to get ready for Sunday, but just then didn't seem like the time. The afternoon was full of errands and the stuff of life. In the back of my head was the sermon I knew I had to finish. I was only mildly concerned as the conclusion had been written for a week, the rest was mostly done and all I was seeking a bridge in the middle to put it to bed. "An hour or two tops should wrap it." I assured C when we parted after lunch. My plan was to get the shopping done, the sermon wrapped and then M and I were meeting to put the church back in order. That was my plan. God it, seemed, as is so often the case, had another. The sermon that is posted on my blog for Easter has very little to do with the one I had simply planned to finish up. Because at 4:00 on Easter Saturday afternoon Mary Magdalene came calling. She wanted to talk in my church on Easter morning and she would not be silenced! I panicked a bit as I had never done a monologue sermon before and was not sure how it would be received. And I'm a little leery about going off the edge. And on Easter morning no less...bigger crowd, strangers present...could be scary. I resisted her, but she would not be put off. So I wrote till it was time to decorate. And I came back and wrote some more. Until midnight I wrote as Mary dictated her words. And on Easter morning Mary was heard in my little church on the prairie.
From the first moment of the Pascal candle lighting until the dismissal I am not sure my feet were entirely touching earth. The energy was palpable. He was so risen in this place. There was a taut silence during the sermon that I have rarely felt while preaching....they got what Mary was telling them! For some of what happened I don't know that I have the words....time slowed and stopped as I chanted the Preface, during the Eucharistic prayer I found myself in tears. There was just such a sense of joy and presence and...well....it was thin and holy and I really have no words.....
It was not, however, all perfection. I had underestimated the crowd and suddenly the chalice bearer turned to me with an empty chalice. Time stopped in a different way as the dance that is a liturgical "oops" takes over for a minute....my first with this particular one....but apparently my telepathic communication to M about "sing the communion meditation" again got through, as they did, and we did what needed to be done and moved forward. The wonder of this is that I am not in shambles over it....indeed I barely missed a beat, where a year ago it would have made the day a disaster as I messed with myself over it! God is good and Progress is Being Made on the critical voices front. Praise God and spiritual direction!
After service we celebrated our MDG successes with cake and then it was off to dress down and spend the afternoon in the company of friends, hanging out and basking in the ongoing glory of knowing that not only did He rise but He is rising still and ever, and there is evidence all over my life, and though exhausted from the "Easter marathon" of service upon service, there is no place I'd rather be, and nothing I'd rather be doing.