It was a long but exciting Holy Week for my church. We shared the service with three other churches. Each church hosted a service and led a different one. This made for some pretty interesting experiences.
First was the Tenebrae service. I’d never been to one of those even though I’m a “cradle Episcopalian.” As services go it was very meditative and spiritual. There was lots of praying in silence. This service was supposed to “set the stage” for the rest of Holy week which I think it did fairly nicely. Enough so that I chose to ask my priest if we could hold one again next year.
Then came Maundy Thursday. We had our traditional lamb stew cooked at a different church’s kitchen and then went in for the service. If you’re not familiar with Holy Week services this one includes the washing of feet. I’ve only participated in that part once before and for that one everyone’s feet were washed by the priest. This time we took turns. You got in line and when your turn came your feet were washed by someone you may or may not have known. Then you took the spot in front of the chair and washed the next person’s feet. It turned out to be quite an eye opening experience. Let me tell you that after holding someone’s naked feet in your hands you can never think of them as strangers again. Not even acquaintances. A part of me is wondering if I should get the woman' whose feet I washed some red nail polish as a gift for Christmas.
On Friday we held 2 services, one in public and one at a nice church with a familiar feel as I’d been there once before. The public service was Stations of the Cross and was held at the Riverwalk here in San Antonio. Each station had a work of art or a performance held at it which had been inspired by the events we were honoring. They were all good and my favorite was the performance by a fellow church member of Mary receiving her son’s body. It was very moving and we were all in tears at some point during it.
That evening’s service was also nice and in a church that had something you may not see as much as you used to. It had real stained glass windows. The sun setting through them gave the whole place an intense glow and very special feel.
The Saturday evening service was The Great Vigil which was held at my church. This was a very music filled service with members from the other three churches joining us in the performance. Our choir director had an extra high energy level with that large a choir to direct. The sound was magnificent and many of the other choirs members had wonderful music skills and great voices. There were five priests participating in this service and it was kind of funny watching them rehearse and figure out who would do what. At one point we knew that they were all going to be back in the hallway behind the sanctuary throwing off their black robes to put on white ones and make it back tg celebrate Christ’s resurrection. We all giggled over that mental image.
Then came Sunday morning and everything was back to normal. We were at our usual church with the usual faces plus a few we seldom saw. I was delighted to see a familiar face from the early service in attendance at the late one because he had been taking care of his wife for a long time. She’s still with us but not so much mentally. My prayers are with him.
News about my own mother is that she is on Hospice care and will probably not be with us much longer. My father has told us that we need to make visits soon so that we can see her before she is either too unconscious to visit or has moved on. I’m sure that this knowledge had a large effect on my reactions to Holy Week. It’s filled with love and I needed that this year.
It is my sincere hope that you had a good Easter and spent time with your family. God Bless!