Our church celebrates Holy Week. So, every night the week before Easter we have a service that somewhat follows the events taking place in the life of Christ during this week. It gets really interesting toward the end of the week...
Last night, Maundy Thursday, the sermon was on the "last supper" and, in addition to communion, we have a foot washing service - makes a lot of people very uncomfortable, which is interesting. I don't know if it is just the idea of "feet" in general or the idea of washing the feet of others with a servant's attitude that bothers people. I had to work through that one myself when we first started attending the Episcopal church because I have serious issues with both. In addition, at the end of the service, the altar area is stripped bare and everything on the altar and surrounding the altar is removed in complete silence - all of the color, the table coverings, the altar Bible, flowers, everything - even the light that is lit at all times indicating Christ is ever present in this place - everything is removed. It always makes me cry because it makes me realize how lonely it is to be there when I stop to consider Christ not being there with me. Even though I know the end of the story, the place is cold and bare and not full of a lot of hope. And, it makes me sad to leave because, as we know, there is subterfuge, betrayal and denial about to take place in the wee hours of the morning.
Today is Good Friday and we will be going to church soon to take part in the last big service of Holy Week. Tonight, most of the congregation will reenact the horrific events that occurred on this day - Christ's crucifixion and death. No one ever wants to portray Jesus - I wonder why this is? Maybe because most of us can relate to the other characters so much better: Pilate, as he "washes his hands" of responsibility of making bad decisions; the Pharisees with their self-righteous, all-knowing understanding of right and wrong and of power; the Roman Soldiers, as they enjoy their mocking and dark sense of fun; Mary, Jesus' mother, who witnesses and endures His suffering as only a mother can while pondering the heart and will of her Beloved God; the followers of Jesus who still were trying to figure out just exactly who this man is and how He has touched their lives; Peter, my particular favorite, always strong in his convictions until they really mattered and, then of course, there is Judas - who was probably the most honest of the bunch - just misdirected... I can see why we relate. It's quite a cast of characters to say the least. I can only say that Forgiveness is a VERY GOOD THING!
At the end of the evening, we get to wait and see what happens next. Like Mary we are allowed to ponder all of these things in our hearts. We know something spectacular has happened, we are dealing with the aftermath and trying to process what it means for each of us. We are allowed to consider the life-changing events of this day; and, if we are willing, to gain a new understanding of forgiveness, sacrifice, a wounded heart and God's amazing, amazing love.