Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Easter Gratitude

Alleluia! Christ is risen!
What a wonderful and deeply enriching Holy Week and Easter it was.  There are so many who stepped up to help with a full calendar of worship and activities.  Some of you attended every service! Several served and some at more than one. It was charming how committed both Buck girls were to their now traditional -- I guess -- role of hiding the eggs for the post-Easter Sunday Celebration Hunt.  I can still see some eggs from my office window.  
I can also see a light of recognition in the eyes of those who took advantage of the calendar's fullness and made their way to most of the services of Holy Week and Easter.  Our Book of Common Prayer is a great resource.  By employing each of the Proper Liturgies for Special Days (BCP pages, 264 to 295) and by including non-BCP liturgies like a weekly Friday reading of the Stations of the Cross and Wednesday's Tenebrae we went "over and above" it's provisions.  There are just SO many options.
A quick look back in the worship register shows that Advent's history is uneven with some years missing the Great Vigil, others Tenebrae.  Some years the Stations of the Cross took the place of the Proper Liturgy for Holy Saturday.  At least now we are observing what our BCP directs and making good places for those "extra-curriculars."  
One of the other ways we have been moving through the year is to employ smaller prayer book options, especially in Holy Eucharist that suit the season.  We just finished a Lenten practice of beginning and ending worship on our knees in some penitential element before and from the Book of Occasional Services a “solemn prayer over the people” after. During the season after the Epiphany we prayed using Eucharistic Prayer D at the 10:30AM service. 8:00AM saw us on our knees reciting the Decalogue together during Lent.  Those are just a few of the options we chose.
Some of what we do is to recall practices more ancient but largely forgotten.  The BCP accommodates our joining a worship tradition older than the Episcopal Church itself.  On pages 362, 368 and 372 just where the celebrant begins what is called "the canon of the mass" there is small rubric. It says, "The people stand or kneel." By following that implied preference -- standing is listed before kneeling, because standing during the "canon" is the more ancient tradition and the one that more suits celebrations of Christ’s resurrection -- we are encouraged to act out our Easter aspirations begun in our opening "Alleluia, Christ is risen!"
We can grant that most of us remember one form of eucharistic worship over others, one set of habits, one set of recitations and gestures.  The options the BCP gives us aren't meant to excuse change for change sake but to give us a seasonal consistency that ties us to our ancient forebears even better than doing the same things every Sunday no matter the season.  
You've already heard my appeal to stand up for as much of our worship as possible in this Easter season but I'm a priest not a policeman, a celebrant not a inquisitor, an Episcopalian not some other denomination so I'm happy with your exercising the options that suit you as long as you "lift up your hearts."
I'm grateful for all your faithfulness, your energy, your rolling with the punches, your support, and for joining me in word and action to affirm "The Lord is risen, indeed! Alleluia!

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