The Three Days
I’ve written several drafts on different subjects, but today is Palm Sunday and we begin Holy Week, and I thought it was appropriate to say a few words.
Obviously this means nothing to those of you not interested. And for (Christian) church goers, the way they mark this week is all over the map. My wife, going to seminary taught by Jesuits and in love with liturgy, the rituals and sacraments we use to remind us of why we do these odd things, has always been a driving force behind this. Some churches are just about Sunday.
On Thursday, we observe Maundy Thursday, the remembrance of the Lord’s Supper, the gathering in the upper room when Jesus broke the bread and washed the feet of his disciples, called out Judas anonymously, and essentially broke down the script to come. The first time I went to this church for this service was the first time they instituted actual foot washing. They were very nervous, as it’s so presentational and feels weird.
Until you do it. Until you take off your shoes and socks, dip them in warm water, and someone you know and care about gently washes your feet. Then maybe you wash their feet. Or you just sit and watch the washing. It’s surprisingly moving, followed by communion.
Good Friday is as it should be, solemn, somber, dark. Short. Rarely are there more than a handful of us; this is the service least attended, although it’s my feeling that going through The Three Days, as they’re called, is the key to the transformative experience. Could be just me.
And then on Saturday, we have our Easter Vigil, an ancient tradition most associated with the higher churches but recently revived for other, more conventional Protestant churches. Probably very few, but we’re not alone.
It’s fun. We tell the oldest stories, from Genesis through Isaiah, with Noah and dry bones in the desert and Moses making magic with the Red Sea. We’re allowed to be funny and use skits—once I almost literally stole The Comic Whose Name Shall Not Be Mentioned’s verion of Noah. I made a movie about creation with a faux Patrick Steward impression (just cannot nail that voice).
And I turned the dry bones thing into a musical number with “Be Our Guest” from Beauty and the Beast, which I’ll reprise this week. It’s a lot of fun. Let’s see if we can get video.
Then we have communion, and we have a table overloaded with dessert, essentially. It’s crazy and indulgent and it’s Easter, the first service of Easter really. I always bake a lot of stuff so I can secretly steal all those Easter egg M&Ms, which I eat once a year because they’re just the best.
Easter morning starts to feel a little anticlimactic if you do The Three Days, or that’s been my experience.
So that’s my week, and it starts now. I’m going to have to rent another car this week for some appointments early, but the three days should be fine and clear, and I expect to come out on the other end with changes acknowledged. What they are, I’m still unclear.
But there will be M&Ms. And less blogging. Thanks be to God.