Thursday, March 25, 2010

Experience first the darkness: Lent is moving toward its aweful, awesome ending.

In this blog, I am inviting you and anyone you can find that is willing to share here, just how you spend the last week of Lent--Holy Week. I find sharing traditions to be a good thing, and an encouraging thing. In order to comment, just click comment at the bottom of this posting, and write a comment in the box. You don't have to have a google account. Just choose another option, and post your thoughts. So here are some of my thoughts. You can be more brief, or longer if you like.

This week has been a time of ramping-up preparations for next week--Holy Week on the Christian Calendar. We are preparing our Thursday evening service and Good Friday services, which basically are just long readings of Luke's passion narrative. Our sanctuary is dark and bleak. The cross is dominant up front, and the lights are kept low. On Thursday, we will receive communion and read about Christ's last supper. On Friday, the sanctuary will be draped with black cloths, as will the cross. We will read of Christ's arrest, trials, crucifixion and death. By the last reading, every light and candle in the sanctuary is out except for the "Christ Candle." The candle that represents to us his presence from Christmas until next Advent, is extinguished at the end of the service. (This of course, is not Jesus' actual presence, but rather it is our weekly reminder that when we gather, he is in our midst.) All is dark, as is our world with no Christ.
We leave in silence.

Then on Easter Sunday morning, we will begin outside (weather permitting) and walk symbolically around the building on our journey to the tomb of Christ. We will read of his burial and of the women walking to the tomb which will be represented again by the sanctuary. The doors will be opened as we arrive, and we will hear the incredible words: "Our Lord is Risen!" We will respond, as we do each year (if I'm not to choked and fighting tears) with, "He is risen indeed!"

The drama and darkness of Lent will succumb once again to the bright hope of Easter Sunday morning!

I learned long ago that the joy of Easter is little more than candy eggs and new clothes if we don't intentionally discipline ourselves to experience first the darkness.


Zee said...

the thursday and friday nights are similar in our Church to what you have described.

on friday, we have 13 candles lit up in front of the cross at the altar. the passage about Gethsemane and all the way until Jesus' burial is read in 12 installments. after each installment is read, a candle is extinguished and a sound of a hammer striking a nail can be heard... finally there is one candle left and one of the pastors walks out from the sanctuary with it, and then the people leave in silence.

on Sunday morning, at 6AM we get together at Vladimirskaya hill (did that tradition start back when you guys were over here?) and while watching the sunrise, we sing songs and worship together, rejoicing that He INDEED has risen from the dead. after that service, some go home, we usually walk to Church and wait until the 11AM service.

Eric Paul said...

I wrote a Good Friday Reflection and posted it to my blog. I have been contemplating what it means that Christ was 'forsaken.' I intentionally dwell on the cross without jumping too fast to the resurrection. I felt it was a little too long to post as a comment.

david said...

Thanks Zena and Eric, I'll look forward to checking out your blog post Eric. Zena, the Tenebrae (darkening) service on Friday is exactly like ours...except that the "Christ Candle" is the one carried out. Not sure what happened when we were there on Easter? I think I didn something early, but Shel stayed home with the kids. Because of our timing, we were only there for one Pascha.
We plan to take our Georgian exchange student to an Orthodox Pascha service which begins late Saturday night and goes until about two or three AM. Then we drive home (about an hour and fifteen minutes) and begin our day a little later.