Triduum 2023: Maundy Thursday

The rhythm of over thirty years of serving in congregational leadership is nowhere more imprinted in my soul and spirit than during Holy Week. No matter where I am in my faith walk or relationship with God, Palm Sunday calls me to the daily walk of Holy Week.

Prayers and readings for Holy Monday, Holy Tuesday, and Holy Wednesday set the stage for the great culminating activity of the Triduum.

I am aware of how all of the years of serving in a church—planning liturgy, proofing worship booklets, and writing sermons—leaves a bit of an empty spot in my ministry as priest on a diocesan staff because I no longer “belong” to a place.

That makes it easy to rationalize “worship at home” rather than the steps of making sure I am worshipping in community.

Maundy Thursday, I was planning to go the church that I call my sorta home when I’m not serving a congregation. As I moved through the day, I felt a tug to worship with the church nearest my home, Hope Episcopal. I had a heart pull to worship with that small congregation and to support the lone priest, a woman I respect very much. I remember the extra responsibility single clergy have walking with their congregation during Holy Week, and I didn’t want her to be alone. So I put on my collar and drove in the rain to church.

The worship was lovely and well thought through. My feet were washed by a woman of color, and I washed the feet of a heavily masked man.

We were all invited to participate in the stripping of the altar, and as we few gathered silently removing hangings, palms, and accoutrements, the musician sang, “Stay with me. Stay here with me. Watch and pray.” Having the whole congregation work reverently in community to prepare the church for Jesus’ arrest, crucifixion, and death was prayer in motion.

As my sister priest left at the conclusion of the liturgy, she stopped beside me and took my hand as we shared, for a moment, our connection as priests.

The night was long. We had one of those horrific spring storms with pounding rain, bellowing thunder, and continuing lightening keeping the sky bright. I could not sleep. So I joined the millions through out the world in vigil with Christ. I decided not to be anxious about the memories the storm nudged or that I needed to be on the road early to go to Dallas.

I watched. I stayed. I prayed.

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