Last Sunday one of our founding members, Deirdre Jones gave testimony to the power of the Holy Week gatherings that we are preparing once again to enter into. I asked Deirdre to write out what she shared so that we could repost it here:
"Like so many of you, I grew up in church. I learned to sit still, stand and kneel, sing tough melodies and read big words. I learned to speak and love the liturgy that our church is so rich with. Sometimes, though, like many of you, I unintentionally slip into the rote memorization of the prayers and creeds, and find myself unengaged, worshiping the liturgy and the routine rather than the living Christ for whom they were created. Sometimes so much so that when Fr. Steve "messes" with the words, I find myself thrown off balance and sometimes even grumpy over the disruption of my "routine." I admit this with a smile a little poking fun at myself--even my family can attest that I will not budge off of "He is the perfect propitiation for our sins" because THAT'S the way I learned it with my grandmother back in the 1928 prayer book. How silly we can become when we allow ourselves to be robotic "spectator" Christians.
In today's sermon, Deacon Tom encouraged us to participate in the great pageant. He told us that we do not have to wait to get to heaven to see the kingdom of God at work. We bring it right here, right now, when we become living, breathing, active participants in the worship.
Holy week is fast approaching, and it is the season that our church does so well. Pageant and liturgy abounds from Maundy Thursday through the "watch" right into Good Friday; from the Easter Vigil right into the glorious Easter morning resurrection. For a died-in-the-wool Anglican, there is no season like the ending of Lent and the rending of the curtain going into Easter. But here is the problem. For so many years I sat back and watched the play--an observer of the pageantry until I became simply arthritic. The wonder had left, and I was nothing short of cynical. I came to be "entertained" to get my, "seasonal fix" or my "battery charged" as Deacon Tom said. I sat through the hours of lessons on Easter Vigil from Genesis through the Resurrection and endured the baptisms, blinking and yawning thinking, "How pompous we are" but loving the tradition and the "fix," each year waiting for the magic to return and wondering where the wonder had gone.
When we came to Christ Our Hope, church became very inconvenient. Getting from Greeley to Fort Collins for church seemed like enough, but how much more effort it took to drive 40 minutes to sit through hours of lessons for the Vigil and drive back home to get back up Sunday morning for Easter services. I declined the first two years when Sarah said, "Come to the Vigil." Good heavens, Good Friday was enough. How much more did people expect of me?
But on the third year, we came. And my Easter was transformed. Genesis came to life with piano and strings; with sheets of waves engulfing Noah and the dove dipping and flying, the sacrifice of Isaac in shadow screen, the escape of the Israelites through the Red Sea and the dry bones coming to life with drums. I was mesmerized. Years of religious arthritis fell away and the years and years of rigamortis that had been creeping into Holy Week dissolved with my heart of stone. We left, my family and I, with our cheeks sore from smiling, our hands tired from clapping, our voices strained from singing--we had become participants in the pageant.
Participating is never convenient. We have been called all Lent to bless those around us, to be conduits, to "stand on the threshold of holy moments." Well, this is our moment. Holy week can come and go, and we can be the great spectators. Or it can arrive, ushering in the kingdom of God as we become the great participants.
I encourage you to be a participant. Come. Come and worship. Come and partake. Come and be part. Let the greatest pageant in history unfold until the stone is rolled away and the living breathing Christ is resurrected in our midst."