Sunday, April 29, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Saturday, April 7, 2012
Friday, April 6, 2012
IT HAS BEEN gratifying to have so many companions at Morning Prayer this past week. We even ran out of booklets on one of the days.
So we peer over each other’s shoulders to perceive the liturgical text, recite the ordered verses, and observe the measured silences. It is a solemn, ritualized, yet profoundly natural response to the impending catastrophe of Holy Week. What else are we to do? Run around screeching and pulling out our hair? (In my case, that gesture would be particularly ill-advised). No, I can think of no more appropriate a thing to do, when faced with the collapse of all meaning and hope, than to acknowledge our condition with psalms and silences and gospel readings that resound under the high ceiling like words from the basement of time.
Speaking of gospel readings, I could not help but be struck by at the strange wisdom of lectionary-designers who, supposing that Holy Week congregations might be somewhat larger than at other times, use the opportunity to have us read about Jesus and the unproductive fig tree. Enigmatic? You bet… I am reluctant to admit that it comes across to me as if Jesus had a temper tantrum! A fig tree they passed had no fruit (even though it “was not the season for figs”) so he cursed it. When they passed by the same tree that evening (having ransacked the Temple in the interim) and found it withered, it almost seems as if Jesus was embarrassed at his earlier outburst and came up with a lame symbolic explanation to make it seem less petulant… that can’t be right, can it?
The transformative events of Holy Week do not fit neatly into a package. We approach them liturgically because to do so any other way would make us crazy. The fig tree episode strikes a discordant note, spoiling any notion we may have had that the crucifixion could be rendered into a tidy doctrine, or a grand symphony performed in a plush concert hall, instead of a ruthless execution carried out at The Place of a Skull.
NO MORNING PRAYER ON MONDAY! The church will be closed, so please don’t show up, and encourage others not to do so either.