Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday

Prayers before the Icon of the Crucifixion

Today the one who hung the earth upon the waters is hung upon the cross.
The one who is the king of angels receives a crown of thorns.
The one who wraps the heavens with cloud is wrapped in the purple cloak of mockery.
The one who set Adam free by his baptism in the Jordan is struck upon the face.
The bridegroom of the church is pierced with nails.
The son of the Virgin is pierced with a lance.
We venerate your passion O Christ!
Let us see as well your glorious resurrection!

Having beheld the resurrection of Christ, let us worship the holy Lord Jesus, the only sinless one!
Your cross, O Christ, we venerate!
Your holy resurrection we glorify!
You are our God and we know no other.
We call upon your name!

Good Friday at Nashotah began in reverent silence.  The community choir practices every Thursday afternoon for this day.  We sang Anglican chant Gradual Psalm 22:1-2, 7-8, 14-21.  The Liturgy included the singing of the Passion according to St. John and the Solemn Collects, a particularly ancient form of the Prayers of the People, during which the Church remembers before God the world for which his Son died.  After the Collects, an unveiled Crucifix was carried into the Chapel by Dcn. Brad VanDeventer.  The congregation was invited to come forward to venerate the Cross.  The custom is to walk barefooted and to prostrate or genuflect (on both knees) three times while coming forward to kiss the Cross.  During this time the choir sang a glorious reproach called Veneration of the Cross; Agios O Theos.  It was a beautiful song.  I was honored to be among the choir this day.  The last element in the Liturgy of Good Friday is Communion from the Reserved Sacrament which is brought from the Altar of Repose.

Triduum Sacrum

Maundy Thursday, there were no classes, which allowed the seminarian tim to prepare (spiritually, as well as liturgically) for Triduum Sacrum ("the sacred three days").  The Eucharist was celebrated at 5pm today including several unique elements.  The first was the foot washing.  The Dean washes the feet of members of the congregation, in imitation of our Lord's service to his disciples.  Jesus' said, "Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet."  What a powerful statement of love and servanthood in Christ.   

After Communion of Maundy Thursday, the Blessed Sacrament was carried from the Chapel of St. Mary the Virgin to the Altar of Repose in the Red Chapel (as pictured above).  The congregation followed the procession (in the chilly spring air - I might add) and devotions were read in the Red Chapel before returning in silence to St. Mary's Chapel.  The final action of the evening is the stripping of the Altar in preparation for Good Friday.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Cup

And he said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will."

Holy Week at Nashotah is the week that stands out above all others throughout the year.  This is what Nashotah is about.  The liturgy, the study of Jesus, contemplative prayer, and a renaissance of our spiritual journey.  Monday and Tuesday lecture studies were offered for all after evening prayer.  Last night we discussed the gospel of Mark to understand the death of Jesus.  What I would like to share with you is my thoughts on the lecture of "This Cup".  Jesus refers to his impending suffering as “this cup” (Mark 14:36; 10:38-39).  Dr. Anderson explains that the cup is a stock metaphor for God's wrath, judgement, or imposition of shame.  Some would argue that this less than heroic protest to the Father puts Jesus in a subjectively "less courageous" light than that of martyrs who are routinely portrayed as accepting their death with great pride.  Could it be that Jesus' death (the drinking of the cup) was different than theirs and he understood it so?  Jesus sweat blood in the garden this night while praying to the Father before his impeding Crucifixion.  He knew of the suffering and events of the next day.  He also knew that it was God's will not his own that could only support the prophecy.  "This is the blood of the covenant poured out for many" (14:24) This phrase identifies Jesus with the "Suffering Servant" of Isaiah 52-54.  He is to be the lamb sacrificed for us, therefore again, "it is not what I will, but what you will."  He understands this to be so.  Ethically, Jesus’ voluntary, obedient submission is the pattern for all our dealings with others and our path of discipleship.

Tonight we celebrated a Tenebrae service in a sung psalter, in the chapel.  Sitting in the choir stalls in utter darkness gives a meditative experience of the historical holy week.  The gospel words then the crescendo of the slam of the tomb to startle us into awareness of that fateful evening.  The service ends in silence, and we all make our way out in the darkness to reflect on the words of Christ's death.  In close I hope you enjoy this old hymn "Why Me, Lord" by The Gaither Vocal Band