I always find it difficult to write Clergy Clatter during our observance of Lent, while looking forward to the joy of Easter in just a few weeks. Lent, for me, is a serious time of reflection and preparation. But I experience Easter as an eruption of joy and excitement. It’s hard to write something that captures both, especially with Palm Sunday and Holy Week in the middle.
The Palm Sunday Liturgy pulls some of this together for me. It begins with our waving of palm branches and singing “All glory, laud, and honor” as we process into church with a sense of excitement and celebration. But as the Gospel is read, the mood changes, and as the service progresses we are led into the somberness of Holy Week. The Palm Sunday service is a masterful piece of dramatic liturgy – probably one of the most powerful services in our Prayer Book. In a little more than one hour, it carries us through all of the emotions from joy and excitement to despair. And finally, like an old western movie cliff hanger, Palm Sunday leaves us wondering what comes next. There is no hint of Easter in the Palm Sunday Liturgy. Instead, it leads us to living out Holy Week, our Maundy Thursday Agape Meal and Liturgy with the stripping of the altar and our Good Friday Liturgy with the Stations of the Cross and communion from the reserved sacrament. And finally, on Easter Morning, the full blown joy of the Risen Christ erupts, as we pull out all the stops – great upbeat music, beautiful flowers, alleluias all over the place, and an exciting message of joy and hope.
It’s really Easter that I want to talk about. I have all kinds of things to say about it. But I can’t do that, yet. And herein lies my frustration. It would be wonderful to just short circuit Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and go right to Easter – sort of like eating the beautiful dessert before the full meal with its horrible eggplant.
But life just doesn’t work that way. First – we can’t easily divide things into somber and joyous. Even the most exciting events have a sad edge, and even the most serious episodes of our lives, usually have an element of quiet joy. Secondly – things have their special times and special seasons that can’t be rushed. I am an impatient person. If it’s good, I want it now. If it’s not so good, I want it over now.
So Lent has a special lesson for me. Wait, Richard. Get yourself ready. Easter will come, but not yet. There are still the Lenten Programs, the Holy Week Services, and a lot of planning. There’s a lot of work to be done before I can sing my alleluias again. But it will come. It will come.
Get your copy now by calling the Church Office at (757) 622-7672.
Get the Book!
A compilation of The Rev. Richard O. Bridgford’s most memorable articles from his nearly 25 years at Church of the Epiphany. Enjoy history, humor, nature, travel, and wacky experiences with Fr. Bridgford, his two-legged and four-legged friends! Recall:
- the New Year’s resolutions he couldn’t keep
- the year Santa’s elf delivered Baby Jesus to the creche
- the volcano that threatened his vacation
- sweet elderly widows and “a little afternoon sherry”
See if he has written about YOU
Proceeds go to The Church of the Epiphany