This has been a wonderfully busy Lent! I didn’t get to everything I wanted to do. “Things left undone” seems to be a perpetual state of church life. On the upside, though, I have been thrilled with all of the ways folks at Trinity Church have read, prayed and served their way through this holy season. Parishioners have been faithful. They’ve been prayerful. They’ve even been joyful (yes, such an attitude IS permissible in Lent)!
Lent can be a slog, though. Five weeks ago today, I stood on a street corner and imposed ashes on any passerby who asked for a smudgy cross and a prayer. Here in Wisconsin, that unseasonably warm Ash Wednesday is a pleasant memory as we contend with January-like temperatures with only ten days remaining in March. The cold, the prospect for snow and the relentlessness of Lent is enough to try the soul — and there’s plenty of Lent left to go.
In a few days the liturgical marathon that is Holy Week will commence with Palm Sunday. I’m genuinely excited. I used to joke that Holy Week is the closest thing Episcopalians have to a week-long revival. Too bad we sometimes view this most sacred week in the Church calendar as something to “get through”. I understand that there are a myriad of details and a blizzard of bulletins. I know there are sermons to prepare and logistics to coordinate. But for clergy, well, to use the parlance of the secular world, this week is the reason we’re in business!
I know everyone “in the real world” has to figure out how to attend liturgies in and around work schedules, vacation schedules, school schedules and everything else that is life. I understand that for many parishioners to be at the liturgies we’ve scheduled means they are leaving things “undone” in the rest of their lives. This is the reality I never, ever want to forget as one who lives in and around church and gets paid for the privilege.
I hope plenty of folks will get to come to worship during the eight days between Palm Sunday and Easter. Goodness knows there are plenty of opportunities to do so. The realist in me knows that people make the decisions they need to make. The optimist in me hopes lots of people will attend and find their lives changed as a result. The pastor in me will be praying for the folks present and absent — praying that this Holy Week the Way of the Cross will be particularly meaningful and the arrival at the empty Tomb a moment of mystery-inspired celebration.