For the past 5 weeks I've joined with the Seekers Group of Sackville United Church as they've taken part in the de/constructing Jesus course offered by Tripp Fuller and Diana Butler-Bass. This experience, together with earlier reading I have done and the information contained in the most recent book I've read, After Jesus Before Christianity: A Historical Exploration of the First Two Centuries of Jesus Movements, has me de/constructing Holy Week - that is breaking it apart the story, looking at its parts in the larger historical context, the present context, and then putting the story back together in a way that makes sense and gives meaning for today.
Such work is challenging as there are so many layers to the stories of faith - yes, layers and layers of history, but also, layers of theological understanding, tradition and song. The way we read the stories and in large part, the meaning we drawn from them, are shaped by the songs we sing of them and those songs have been shaped by centuries of scriptural, ecclesial and theological understanding that has been grounded in incomplete information.
We know so much more about the early church than we did when some of the much loved hymns of the church were written - and I dare say, that were we to work more diligently in incorporating this new knowledge into our hymnody and our preaching, our marking of Holy Week might look significantly different.
For example, in my study, I have come to a place of understanding more clearly the significance of the table in the stories of leading up to Jesus' death, and the cross has faded into the backdrop as the murder weapon that it was. Yes, the tomb is found empty by those women who went there early in the morning, but it was to the Upper Room, to that table where they had celebrated the meal, that they returned to tell the others! And, it was that Upper Room, that same table, that they were all commissioned from - sent forth to live love in the world.
May this Holy Week find you at the table - an expansive and welcoming table that prepares you to offer the same to the world.
I am in the office all day Monday and Tuesday preparing for the various gatherings and services that will take place this week. On Tuesday morning I will host the Lectionary Study Group at 10:30AM via Zoom and in the afternoon Rasta goes for his spring grooming!
Wednesday morning after the Coffee Hour with Open Sky the Steering Committee of the Senior Sharing Table project will have their first meeting. The rest of the day will be filled with three other meetings.
I will be working from home on Thursday morning and as I write the sermon I will also be preparing supper for our Maundy Thursday Gathering. Supper will be served at 5PM and at 6PM the service will begin in-person and via Facebook Live and include ritual foot-washing and communion. All are welcome.
Our Good Friday Service will begin in front of the Church at 10:45AM and move indoors and online (Facebook Live) at 11AM.
On Saturday I will gather with the family of the late Leola Trenholm to celebrate and honour Leola's life among us. Please join me in holding Charles, Sharon and Arliss and their families in care and prayer.
Easter Sunday will offer two opportunities to gather in community to celebrate expansive life and love that is offered at the table. At 9AM we will gather on the edge of the swan pond to hear of the women's early morning visit to the tomb and at 11AM we will ponder the experience and response of the larger community on that first Easter.