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Archive for April, 2014

There is a phrase in the Church “Christ is risen, the clergy are dead” and this sums up most clergy I know, myself included. We labour (with love) to make sure the bulletins are done, homilies are written, congregation is cared for. We fuss and fret over the liturgies, trusting that those who attend will be fed.

By the time Easter Sunday rolls around, we are usually pretty tired. The Alleluia may not have as much verve and pep as it should have, but it’s the best we’ve got.

I spent three hours, the Saturday before Easter, in the stylist’s chair, getting my hair done. This is highly unusual for me. My usual time in the chair, including chatting is 30 minutes. Five to ten minutes more if I get my hair washed first. I was experiencing something I’ve never done before; a hair tattoo. It’s a labour intensive process, but incredibly amazing.

My stylist and I had talked about a resurrection hair tattoo for Easter Sunday. The tattoo itself didn’t take very long, but the colouring and shading took plenty of time. By the time he was done, he was very pleased, and so was I. And so were the customers in the salon. It’s certainly something that stands out, but as I can’t see it, I don’t worry too much about it.

The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive and I was especially pleased at the children’s reaction on Easter Sunday. I have been stopped while out, so people can ask about it. And I explain that there are three crosses, a tomb and a pair of wings. And they “oooh” and “ahhh” and tell me how awesome it is.

The three hours I spent in the chair I should have been relaxing, but I was thinking about all the things I had yet to do to get ready for Saturday night’s service. Everything did get done, but I did not take good care of my sprained ankle. And come Sunday morning it was swollen and paining. By the time the two services were finished, I couldn’t feel my left foot. I took off the brace, iced my foot, rested it and tried to nap.

We went to visit my in-laws for supper, which was awesome, and I elevated my ankle as much as I could. Since then I have slept as much as I can, while returning to the pre-Easter craziness. I took Monday off, but on Tuesday I had three home communions. I was supposed to go to a meeting in the city, but I was too tired and ankle was too sore. So I sent my regrets and stayed home.

Friday is traditionally my day off, but the church is having a bake sale tomorrow, so I spent most of the morning baking cupcakes, scones and cookies. The cookies are staying at home as I scorched the bottoms. The cupcakes and scones are at the Church. My Beloved brought supper in and tonight I am catching up on laundry that should have been done two weeks ago.

What I need to do is take three weeks off and rest. But there’s too much to do for me to make that happen. I am anxious about some upcoming doctor’s appointments and medical tests. Something inside me tells me that I will be taking time off to deal with my medical issues, whether I want to or not, and that will be what it will be.

So for now I struggle through, doing the best I can, taking it as easy as I can and trying not to beat myself up about not getting everything done.

The lesson I really need to learn is to let go and let God. If the bulletins don’t get done, it’s not a big deal. Right?

One step at a time. One day at a time.

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Yesterday we gathered in the empty tomb that had been stripped bare on Thursday. The lighting was all natural and as it was overcast it was quite subdued. We gathered in silence, some with anxiety on their faces, wondering what was going to happen next.

I came into the Sanctuary of the Worship Space and was seated in silence for a while. Then I asked the congregation to ensure they had a black stone and an order of service. And so it began.

We heard readings from Isaiah and Psalm 22. We heard the epistle to the Hebrews and finally the long and tortuous Gospel of John, where Jesus was ridiculed and beaten, mocked and humiliated, and finally, unceremoniously, nailed to the Cross where he was left to die.

I began by asking what is Good about Good Friday? I likened the cross to a device of torture and death and yet everywhere we look there is a symbol of that death, in wood, glass, silver, pewter, gold. We wear it around our necks, and as other jewelry, and he we are, gathering to worship a torture device.

But the story doesn’t end there. God gave Jesus as a gift of supreme Love. Jesus accepted that challenge and gave himself as a gift of supreme Love. And at that moment when Jesus breathed his last, the earth shook, the curtain of the temple was torn in two and there was three hours of darkness…at that moment hate died, and love was born anew.

That symbol of anger and hate, became a symbol of love and mercy.

We then reflected on the seven last words from the cross and meditated on the symbols of the sign, the crown, the purple robe, the nails, the towel, the stock and the cross itself. And as the congregation felt so moved they set down their black rocks at the foot of the cross and picked up a white stone to symbolise ultimate love and to remind them that they are precious in God’s sight. They are beloved children of God.

I had a nursing home service to do and met with a family to plan an interment service which is happening today. When I had finished my last appointment of the day, the sun came out and it felt warm against my face. A reminder that Good Friday truly is glorious.

Thanks be to God.

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Tonight we had our Wednesday service in Holy Week. It was a service of healing and Eucharist. There were 9 people in attendance and each of them was there for a specific reason that had nothing to do with me.

The service bulletins didn’t print in quite the correct order, so we have some fun trying to figure out what came next…but we managed through. At a certain point in the service, prayers are offered silently or aloud for folks who are in need. And there is an opportunity to pray in the silence of our hearts to invite God to hear what we cannot find the words to say.

After that there is an opportunity to come back and have a moment of prayer with myself. We sit, facing each other, often taking hands, often sitting in stillness. I will ask if there is something specific on their heart and they will answer what that is. Tonight six people came back for prayers. Five of the six had specific concerns. After the prayers there is a moment of silence and an opportunity for anointing with healing oil. One of the six came filled with gratitude for the abundance in her life. Her smile is infectious and after we prayed giving thanks she squeezed my hand and bowed her head. She then asked for God to bless me with healing and with patience…and winked at me.

We then move to the table and share communion in a different setting than usual; a setting from the Island of Iona. It is beautifully written and always moves me. Tonight it moved me to tears.

We shared communion and sat in silent contemplation for about 10 minutes after the liturgy had concluded. Then I extinguished the candles and left the worship space. The congregation followed, about 10 minutes later. The service is simple, sacred and contemplative. It is everything a Holy Week service should be.

My ankle is incredibly sore. It has ridges on it from the brace, but the pain is nothing in comparison to the feeling of peace and serenity that is building inside of me.

These are my people. We are connected to one another. We have shared many stories; both good and bad. And now we have had the opportunity to be still in the presence of the sacred.

Thanks be to God.

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My ankle that is. It’s pretty bruised, as is the big toe on my right foot. Today I bought a brace for my ankle so I can continue to be barefoot in Church.

We have had two evening services for Holy Week thus far and there is another one tonight.

The services for Monday and Tuesday I was able to sit for them, which was good. Tonight will be a different thing. The service begins in the sanctuary, moves to the back of the Church (the baptistery) then moves back to the altar. So there will be walking, but I reckon if I take my time I should be okay.

I’ve had to rethink how I preside Maundy Thursday as I used to kneel when I washed feet. This year I’ll need to sit on a stool. It will be awkward, but it should work.

I got a call today from a lady whose husband just died. She’s originally from this community and has family here, but she lives out-of-town. She’s made arrangements for cremation and his remains will be interred, on Saturday. I am meeting with her and her sister on Friday.

Holy Week is meant to be a week of reflection and preparation. And yet, every single year I have had a funeral and all the pastoral responsibilities that go with it. So even though I try not to over-plan the week or over-fill it with responsibilities, there always seems to be “one more” event.

Having a sprain this year has really taught me about pacing myself. I overdid it yesterday and had a horrible night last night. Today was supposed to be an easier day, but then the phone rang and I needed to go to the hospital to see a parishioner, as well as preside a service at a nursing home.

I have a service in an hour and a half and my left ankle is swollen and throbbing. I was going to do some work tonight after worship. Instead I am going to do that work tomorrow morning, and tonight, after worship, I will have a long soak in a warm bath with epsom salts.

I changed the bed last night, so it will be comfortable, soft, clean sheets I sink into, well before midnight tonight.

Thanks be to God.

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This Sunday is Palm Sunday which begins Holy Week. Usually by this time (Thursday before Holy Week) I have everything ready. Bulletins printed, symbols located and cleaned, vestments freshly washed and pressed, homilies began. And this year? Not much has been finished.

To make things even more interesting, last night I missed the bottom stair outside and turned over my ankle. It’s swollen and bruised. I can walk on it, albeit slowly. I had plans to finish many things today and as I realise just how injured I am, I realise that I won’t be completely ready for Holy Week come Sunday. I will be ready for Sunday, and that’s enough.

The bulletins for Sunday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are finished and at the Printer’s. I need to pick them up, which I will do when I have to go out this afternoon.

The bulletins for Thursday/Friday/Saturday and Easter Sunday will likely not get finished until Friday or Saturday and will be picked up at the Printer’s early next week. And that’s okay.

Usually every year I undertake a significant project at the Church…rearranging furniture in the office, etc. Not this year. This year, I am going to finish a couple of smaller projects at home. Finding the surface of my kitchen counter top and dining room table. Putting the winter woolens away. Taking the coats for dry cleaning. Getting my house better prepared for Spring.

I’m not sure if it’s the medication in good alignment, a spiritual maturity or a realisation of aging gracefully…I don’t have to have everything done well ahead of time. Yes, it is my preference, but as the philosopher Jagger said “You can’t always have what you want…but you’ll find sometimes, instead, you get what you need”.

My spirit as of late has been battered. My body is bruised. But I am not broken. I am fragile, I have been fractured, but I am not broken. And that is something!

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