Another Monday (and Tuesday!) come and gone. Another week of Lent gone, too. It's winding down (or up) quickly. This week (and next of course) are very churchy ones. I have the Soup and Sermon preaching spot today. Seems I am always in this last spot. What do they call that when you are the batter? Beats me! Anyway, I think this will be my fourth year in the wrap-up position, winding up this little ecumenical tradition in our community. I'm preaching on the Gospel for the day...the grain of wheat that dies, with a bit of a nod to Archbishop Romero. It's his feast in the Lectionary, and I think he deserves some props. Also preaching this week for Palm Sunday and doing the nursing home Sunday afternoon. I'm really rather pleased about that as it will be a chance to give them the whole Palm/Passion deal. We will do the Passion there in several voices as I have recruited some volunteers from my church to come along. And we will do all the good old hymns...Were You There, Old Rugged Cross, and all. I'm hoping we have surplus palms (we always do) to bring along so we have those for the Palms portion of the proceedings as well. I'm going to give the activity director a heads up that we are going all out so she can let her folks know to bring their friends. One of the sweet little ladies there told me one Sunday "Oh we like it when you come, Pastor...it always feels so much like real church." Yep, that would be me, the liturgy geek...real church follows me wherever I go, I guess.
And that will of course be the entree into the week. We do Holy Week at St. J's. Starting on Wednesday with a Tenebrae service and rolling right on through till Sunday. No vigil, we are too small to pull that off, though we have threatened to try. We typically do have a small noon Holy Saturday prayer service, usually attended mainly by the choir who are wrapping up the final rehearsal about that time. This year we are having to forgo that as the choir has vaporized somehow...much to the dismay of Rev. M, maven of liturgy and music. It will be congregational singing for Easter this year...Mrs. C is off to see the lovely grands, RM, the nurse, is pulling a shift at the nursing home. And R and I too will not be at St. J's for Easter. We have made the call that this year we need to gather with the K Clan at his sister's. So my Easter service will be in another Episcopal church, three hours from home with friends I have not yet met. I know the priest slightly from clergy gatherings. It will be strange not to preside at the service...a first since Ordination on a major feast....but...yes, every year is a new one...life moves forward and changes. But I will be around, participating in various ways for the other parts and pieces that do feel like Holy Week at home....the solemn Tenebrae chants, the Maundy Thursday Eucharist with its gradual movement from what starts out feeling more or less like any other service....and ends with that....empty....silent....altar. And Good Friday. We have Stations. And this year we will have our organist back who does things on the organ. Makes it shudder and moan and cry, unearthly sounds really, that make the hair stand up. So that will be the week. Immersion, really. All else kind of slips into second place for those days of Holy Week.
But for today I need to get myself focused to go preach to the Soup and Sermon crowd. Strangers for the most part. My folks are all at work or school or otherwise engaged. A midday activity is not their thing. But for some folks this is an important Lenten tradition. So it's a good thing to step up and provide this nourishment for body and soul in the middle of the workday.