It is early Easter morning and I am pondering mysteries, so I decided to go ahead and get up and write about it. One of the things that I treasure about belonging to a faith tradition is that my understanding changes as I live out my life. I guess you could call it a living faith and I love the surprises that come along.
This week provided some gentle surprises. Maundy Thursday, for example. Now I have been surprised by Maundy Thursday before, so you would think I would know better...but there it is. Do I really want to go to a foot washing service? That seems kind of personal. But, I am in the choir, duty calls (or sings.) Maybe we will be singing through the foot washing, I have worn lace-up shoes as a defense. No, the choir retreats to the pews for the sermon and there we are, right in place for the foot washing! And I am reminded of the beauty of feet, their elegant architecture; a most wonderful form follows function. After the service and the stripping of the altar, we descend to the chapel where a garden has been created and the heavy, lovely scent of flowers fills the air. Outside, the sun is setting. This is the not-so-secret Garden where the juxtaposition is compelling: simple beauty and our complicated humanity.
Good Friday was surprising. I am thinking of the stark reality of dark emptiness. But it is love and the just as real idea that death is necessary for life. We have a "reserved communion" (which I am just now realizing might have more than one meaning.)
The Easter Vigil was a visual feast of light and dark. The lighting of the Paschal fire sent seductive (dangerous?) flames about the feet of worshipers. Into the sanctuary we all processed with our candles lit by the same fire. It was supposed to be dark, but the sun shone through the stained glass windows and with all the candles, there was an enlightened atmosphere as we heard the story from the very beginning. By the time we met at the baptismal font, it was truly dark outside. After remembering that story, if our candles had not been doused by the flung baptismal water, we blew them out and the house lights were blazing again. (Now I have taken too much time writing and I must get ready to walk Carly and go to St. Peter's.)
My Easter morning surprise is that when Mother Chris began to speak about the Gospel lesson this morning (John 20: 1 - 18.) She said that it was all about darkness and light. I must have been channeling her this morning at 5:20 when I titled this piece. Mary Magdalene is in dark distress as she tries to find the body of Jesus, missing from the tomb. Her darkness persists until Jesus calls her name. In that act, Mary Magdalene recognizes Him as well as herself.
Wishing you the light of understanding your true self this season!
Note: I created the panels above for Faith Lutheran Church, Lexington, KY in 2000. There are four panels representing the four Gospels. Perhaps I will have the occasion to talk about the other two panels which depict Matthew 20:1-16 and Luke 1:46-55. Photos by M.S. Rezny