Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Further Up and Further In

On Sunday morning I missed church again, in spite of my best intentions. That afternoon and evening I had to work. My work schedule is all in the evenings, so I knew that my favorite liturgy of the year, the Easter Vigil, was out. As I researched service schedules of both Catholic and Episcopal churches in town, it looked as if I would miss out on Good Friday and Maundy Thursday as well. 

This made me think wistfully of my old parish, which I still tend to think of as "my parish," in D.C. The last two year's I've sat in the front pews for the Easter Vigil, once as a candidate for confirmation, and once as a sponsor. Twice I've been to the front, stood before the bishop's seat, held a candle and walked (terrified that I'd drop it) up and down the aisle as the choir chanted a litany of the saints. That first year I saw a dear adult friend be baptized, and I knelt beside her at the altar rail as the priest put communion in her hand for the first time and said "The Body of Christ." I felt that the world could not contain our joy. 

As I compared the years, I felt empty and cold. I forgot to hope.

By God's grace, within twenty-four hours I found that there was a Maundy Thursday and Good Friday service for me to attend, as well as Easter Sunday. I also found a parish providing a Adoration. Yes, this year I will miss the Vigil. But think what riches I have!

Around the world, Christians are grateful if they even have the chance of meeting together in church once a year. They may go without priests for months. They may not have a full Bible among them. They would give anything to worship in safety. And even they are full of joy: they know how this story ends. 

I found an article about Lent that quotes a child about Lent and Easter. She says, "Mom, I wasn't sure that I LIKED Lent. But, when we're all here together, it's like we're on a mission all together. But, we know how it ends up... It's kind of exciting!" 

Yes! It's the excitement of a mission with all its dangers, except we laugh them to scorn. What can we fear, when God has already been dead and in hell and confounded them both.

"The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning."

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