Saturday, April 7, 2012

More Thoughts on Favorite Church Services

My spouse says that his favorite church service of the year may now be the Maundy Thursday service.  I understand.  Our church's Maundy Thursday service was particularly wonderful this year.  Our pastor knitted it together out of various Biblical texts that talk about love.  It was great.

Our evening Good Friday service also went well.  As I wrote yesterday, there are all sorts of ways that this service can go wrong:  too much of a focus on the sin, on the fault, on the theology of substitute sacrifice, on and on I could go.  My only complaint with last night's service is that I would have liked to have sung more.  We had lots of singing, but it was mainly the choir doing the singing.  They did a good job, don't get me wrong--I just would have liked to participate more.

Our midday Good Friday service that was held indoors went fine.  We had planned to offer a Stations of the Cross walk at the labyrinth, but we had to cut it short because a huge storm swept through.  Still I marked the places in the labyrinth where people would have stopped (oil pastel crayons work really well in this application:  numbers on red bricks), and I enjoyed an hour of waiting at the labyrinth, reading and watching the gathering clouds.

So, instead of spending the afternoon by the labyrinth, we came home and enjoyed a rainy afternoon of cooking and reading.  My spouse got practice time with his violin, and I got to nap.

I have always enjoyed services that we do at the labyrinth.  One year, we met at the labyrinth every Friday in Advent.  One year, we did a brief Wed. night service every week of Lent and walked the labyrinth.  When the weather permits, our earliest Christmas Eve service ends at the labyrinth where we walk while one of our church musicians plays "Silent Night."  I must confess that our Stations of the Cross walk is my least favorite labyrinth service.

I find myself more and more drawn to Ash Wednesday.  If I wouldn't be seen as so strange, I'd like to spend every day marked with ash.  I need that reminder that life is short, and that I'm often stressed about issues that won't matter in the long run--or even in a week.

It's interesting to me that when I think of favorite services, I think of high festival days.  Is there a way to make weekly services have similar impact?  Or by the very nature of their rareness, will high festival days always have an advantage?

1 comment:

Wendy said...

We attended a Maundy Thursday Tenebrae service while visiting in Boston. My spouse said that it was the most powerful church service he'd ever been to. I may be with you on Ash Wednesday, though. I've been thinking a bit about being marked and how we might make some of our metaphors concrete. We do ashes on Wednesday, but in my Protestant community it's in the evening, so we don't even go through a day marked. Would we remember to "take up our cross daily" or "clothe ourselves in love" if we had something marking that? And then how do we keep that from becoming a meaningless symbol? I wore a cross through Lent this year, putting it on each morning with intention, and there's been something in that. It got hard, day after day, teaching in a public university, I really began to wonder what I was doing and what it meant. I suppose I should take some time to reflect. So this comment has gone all over the place, but you struck a chord for me.