30 March 2007

Friday Five: Holy Week, Batman!

Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):

1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
This year we've been calling it "Palm & Passion Sunday." It seems to capture the importance of both. I still encourage our members to come to all the Holy Week services, but I know that's not a possibility for everyone, so the reading of the Passion on Sunday doesn't bother me. This year we're doing a dramatic reading and I only have one line, so I get to step out of the way of the story and let the words be what they are without my input. That's a rare occasion and one I hope will be beneficial to our congregation.

2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
It's never been done in any congregation of which I've been a part, clergy or lay. Growing up among Swedish Lutherans and now serving even more stoic Norwegian Lutherans, I think the intimacy of the service is, in a word, pretty frightening (and I mean that in the most tender way - I don't want to demean the folks I serve in any way, for in this respect I am one of them). Beloved and I have taken part in footwashing services on YouthWorks mission trips and it's always an intensely intimate experience. Peter's first response to Jesus in John makes absolute sense to me. That's one of the crosses I bear - a fear of that kind of deep intimacy with people outside of my family.

3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
When I was in college the Lutheran Student Center had a Passover Seder at 7:00 on Maundy Thursday, then the Maundy Thursday service at 9:00, followed by an all night prayer vigil, culminated with a Good Friday service centered on the Seven Last Words and the hymn "Jesus, in Thy Dying Woes" (all 21 verses). The silence and holiness of that service have always had a profound impact on me. This year our church will be using the Good Friday liturgy from our new Lutheran hymnal, which focuses more on the cross and less on Jesus' words from the cross. We will do the Bidding Prayer and Solemn Reproaches to close the service, but I will miss the Seven Last Words service I've grown to love.

4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"
I choose A, without a doubt. In my hometown, the sunrise service was always an ecumenical service, so we got to hear other preachers and worship with other friends and families (except for the Missouri Synod Lutherans, of course, but I hear that is changing a bit). Since I am now the President, Sergeant-at-Arms and Treasurer of our Barrett Ministerium of One, I do miss that collegiality and ecumenical experience. But we have our own Sunrise Service and it's a nice experience.

5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
Smartass answer: uhhh, the empty tomb? Hello? :-)
Serious answer: the hymns, the hymns, the hymns. I find that Easter sermons are pretty forgettable: how can you interpret the Resurrection and make it more wonderful than it already is? But the hymns say so much that sermons can't say - on Easter our worship team always plugs in every "Alleluia" we can find. This year I purchased a number of organ fanfares for our organist and asked her to see if she can work them into the service - hopefully it'll be an experience to remember.
Sentimental answer: Easter breakfast. My home church did an omelet feed, since my hometown was also the hometown of the M.G. Waldbaum company, one of the largest egg producers in the world. In my present call, it's been the tradition to do an Easter brunch between services. The chance to just sit, eat well and be in fellowship with my friends and family is one I enjoy much.

Bonus: Any Easter Vigil aficionados out there? Please share.
Beloved and I went to an Easter Vigil service last year and enjoyed it, though I think it was more because we could just worship and not LEAD worship. I hope to have a chance to develop a Vigil service somewhere in a future call; something tells me that our present location wouldn't produce the numbers required to make the time well-spent.


  1. I agree about the Easter sermon. Not to mention that pastors feel so much pressure to be meaningful to the "C&E" Christians. But really. If sermons were that meaningful for them, wouldn't they come every week?

    Not that I would do away with it, but it's not what gets us out of bed that morning.

  2. Wow Rev, we apparently are sharing the brain today, especially in regards to question #3!

    I love how we both felt it necessary to include the seder meal, Maundy Thursday service and prayer vigil as lead-ups to our Good Friday experience...it still would have been profound, but just not quite the same without the rest of it.

  3. Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed reading your thoughts on Holy Week. And I get the Easter sermon...

  4. I especially love the *intimacy* and courage of your #2--something most of us in the mainline struggle with, I believe. Holy Week blessings!

  5. As a former Lutheran (Danish, LCA), now in an ELCA seminary (Gettysburg) as an Episcopalian (a CCM thing), your comment on Swedish and Norwegian Lutherans vis a vis foot washing cracked me up! All I can say is, "This is most certainly true!"