Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Holy Week, Oh My!

Oh, my...

What a wonderful journey through Holy Week!

This was only our second year doing the full schedule of services. It's so much work, but so rewarding! It reminds me of staging a theater production--so many people are needed up front, behind the scenes and in the audience, and once you've worked together, walked the week together, and seen the Lord show up and infuse all your efforts with His presence and powerful Spirit, it draws you together in marvelous ways. We were delighted to have many visitors, and most of our own congregation at more of the services than we had last year.

Each service had its own highlights. The music was consistently excellent and moving; the sermons were powerful; the mood was right and everyone present was engaged and worshipful. The teens and tweens were really worshipping, along with the adults, and led us in worship at several points--in music, as acolytes and being the first to venerate the cross on Good Friday. We baptized one teenager at the Vigil--a very special and emotional moment--and after he donned an alb and made his first communion, he and Bantam14 exchanged a high-five that brought tears to some eyes! Blondechick sang "How Beautiful" and "Hungry" at the Maundy Thursday service during the footwashing portion, with a new maturity in voice and spirit, and there were so many other moving musical moments. We had many fabulous musicians contributing to our musical worship, but it was especially wonderful to have my brother-in-law singing and playing guitar at all of the services. He's so centered and so excellent at what he does, yet has such humility, and I know God was really ministering through him.

Personally, I was delighted that all the readings at the Easter Vigil went so well, since that was my area to coordinate! Each reader or group of readers engaged with the Scriptures in their own way--which brought variety, some hilarity and always new meaning to the passages that are repeated each year in the Vigil service. We had percussion accompaniment to some of the readings, water noise, human-produced animal noises and other sound effects, and some visual effects as well.

I was most pleased with the final reading which I staged, the Gathering of God's People from Zephaniah 3:12-20, in which we had children dressed in international or Old Testament costumes being "gathered" by the reader. A couple children had lines--one came down the main aisle, in a sari, dancing and shouting, "Sing, O Daughter of Zion; Shout, O Israel!" Another followed her soon after, dressed as a king, proclaiming, "The king of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil." We had a lame person enter--a boy who really has a broken foot and was on crutches--which got a chuckle from the audience. The proud and arrogant entered and were "removed from among you" (Bantam10 and his friend did a great job of looking haughty as they entered and then offended when they were sent out); later, they re-entered, representing the "outcast" (looking a little more humble this time). At the end there were 8 children standing on either side of the reader, pulling in closer on the final "when I gather you together." The reader, Abbi, did such a great job of ministering the text while also engaging with the children, beckoning and inviting them in, and pausing as they entered--all perfectly timed and so beautifully, invitingly done. We had only had two rehearsals, but the children performed flawlessly! I was so pleased.

I think I could go on and on, and I wish I had pictures! Here are some from last year's Vigil, and there is a link there to pictures from last year's Stations of the Cross service too.

Rejoice with us in God's goodness! His blessing, his mercy and his saving works were so evident in our services last week, and we are so thankful and joyful!!!

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