Monday, April 21, 2014

Holy Week Highlights Part 2

Thursday - the Chrism Mass...a wonderful time of connection to my colleagues, the clergy of this diocese, as together we renewed our ordination vows. As we robe in the Lady Chapel I'm reminded of Mark Balfour's comparison of the scene there to those times in childhood when you get completely entangled in your bedding and seem to be trapped in a world of white's very much like that and ought to be utterly ridiculous, laughable...But somehow as we process into OUR Cathedral it never feels that way. It's a reminder that we are part of something far far beyond ourselves, beyond our parishes, beyond our diocese, beyond this time and place...
The service is always beautifully put together - FabBishop is, after all, also a fab liturgist, and my curate and I both wondered how it would feel to be in other Cathedrals, with other traditions, having been formed and ordained here.

That afternoon I was quiet in the Lady Chapel, dressing the altar of repose for the Watch. I can't arrange flowers to save my life, but I love doing this, knowing that candlelight is very forgiving and that the place will be beautiful because of what it is, however pathetic my efforts.

The service was every bit as special as it always is. For all my efforts, my insistence that this is a KEY day for all Christians to come to worship, the congregation barely reaches half of a lowish Sunday...C speaks beautifully about our need to accept the service of others, to have our feet washed - but still very few come forward. We have long since given up hoping for place a single chair, and after I have washed my Deacon's feet, he washes the feet of the 1st member of the congregation and so on til there seem to be no more takers, at which point I have my feet washed by the last person in the chain. It works for us, as it enables us to both serve and be served - which is part of the challenge, I think.
"Pray that I may have the grace to let you be my servant too"
We listened to "Ubi Caritas" then - as we had in the Cathedral this morning - 

which made me sad that #1S was in Cambridge, but glad that this music brings him close whenever I hear it. In this Holy Week that is all about letting go, the absence of 2 out of 3 children ought really to have prepared me...

A smaller congregation is sad in one way, but lends a marvellous intimacy, so that as we stand round the altar and I begin the Eucharistic prayer "Who this night - this very night - took bread" there is no space at all between the upper room and our church family gathered here. More tears, this time from the vicar, as I offer God's self in bread and wine to those dear dear people who are Christ's Body a courageous, questioning lady who has felt unready, unable to receive but who opens her hands my youngest son, who has worked so hard to help me keep this week holy despite all the upheavals and changes M who will be the face of the church here when the curate and I have moved on..

Then, together, we prepare for the dark time. The wonderful Samuel Wesley chant for Psalm 22 is our soundtrack as we strip the altars and move everything that can be moved from the sanctuary. I extinguish the light in the aumbrey and we move into the Lady Chapel, for this one night transformed into Gethsemane, for the Watch.
I'm all over the place tonight, my head too full of "lasts" and "I wonders" to be very attentive to the great story that we have come to share...I spend a while beating myself up about this til I hear Jesus saying, quite clearly, 
"I didn't ask you to think holy thoughts. I just asked you to stay awake with me". That I can do - for a few hours at least - and it's good to be there. 

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