It was remarkable to watch our community pivot this past Sunday. Many of the staff had been here since the early hours setting up for a beautiful service in Travis Park. We’d been regularly checking the forecast, and felt like we could safely plan to be there. Then we discovered that a pop-up thunderstorm had different ideas. If I’m honest, I was disappointed that so much hard work had to suddenly be undone.
But as I thought those thoughts, this community, staff and volunteers, was able to move everything inside at a speed that was truly breathtaking. We had the technology at the ready to stream from inside instead of outside. The organ was at the ready, and our singers who’d been prepared to sing outside were quick to offer their praise indoors. Youth acolytes were quickly vested and ready to go. At the end of the service, it seemed as if that was how it was meant to be all along.
As I reflected back on that this week, I realized that while we’ve been amazingly responsive through the years, I’m not sure we could have done all of that quite so quickly a year ago. Despite the difficulty of all that has transpired, it is clear that we have developed new ways of pulling together and retaining the essence of what makes us St. Mark’s. We have followed Jesus, perhaps into places we’d rather not have gone, but we have done it faithfully and God has blessed those efforts.
This Holy Week we are not quite back to the fullness of our services of past years, but we are able to gather in person and still have the capacity to stream our worship so there is something for everyone. We will utilize the park as we often have — but in new ways — and still retain the flow of our worship in this most important time.
The deep mystery of these services offers us a way to reflect on the past year and enter with hope into the new season of life we are being called to embrace. It is wonderful and unknowable. We may be fully ready, or we may feel a little hesitant. All of that is part of the walk of discipleship.
The early church saw the liturgies of holy week as an integrated whole. The Triduum, or sacred three days, begins Maundy Thursday and culminates on Easter morning. While we do not spend these days fully engaged in prayer as the early church did, there is something remarkably powerful about taking the time to engage this journey with Jesus at each step of the way. Easter joy is only magnified when we start Thursday with remembering the new call to love one another as we have been loved: recalling the last supper, stripping the altar, encountering the stark reality of Good Friday, entering the deep ambiguity of Holy Saturday, and then arising early to see the new fire as we proclaim the joy of the empty tomb.
I invite you to deeply enter into these holy days as a community. Whether you are here in person or worshipping with us via streaming, you are an important part of the Body of Christ. It is a time of great meaning and joy and I wish you every blessing for a a joyful Easter.