". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Triduum Tableaux

Triduum - The "great three days" of Jesus' Passion, death, and resurrection, beginning the evening of Maundy Thursday and continuing through the celebration of Easter Sunday.

Tableau - a vivid image, scene or picture.

As I reflect on the Triduum weekend, here are a few of the tableaux that come to mind:

The bittersweet lump in my throat while watching the stripping of the altar at the conclusion of the Maundy Thursday service as cantors and congregation responsively sang Psalm 136: "Give thanks to the Lord for He is good; His mercy endures forever."

Trying to warm up with the adult choir on Good Friday amidst a virtual forest of Easter lilies in my church's "Multi-Purpose Room" . . . it was like singing in a flower shop (not great for the more allergic among us)! It's not supposed to smell like Easter on Good Friday, but the lilies had arrived and needed a place to be. Multi-Purpose Room indeed! (It also serves as a meeting place and Sunday School classroom as well as the day school lunchroom.)

Accompanying my husband on piano while he sang "Why Do the Nations So Furiously Rage Together?" (Psalm 2) from Handel's Messiah and wondering how anyone's fingers could possibly play all those notes at such a raging and furious tempo (I will admit that thanks to some carefully planned edits, these fingers didn't).

The Litany (prayers) sung in a darkened sanctuary at the conclusion of the Good Friday Tenebrae, followed by the congregation's whispered Lord's Prayer, the final crying out of Jesus ("Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?") and taking away of the Christ candle, the drum roll and strepitus signifying the closing of Jesus' tomb (as I tried to reassure my nervous 4-year-old), and the return of the Christ candle (signifying Jesus' impending resurrection) while the sweet voice of a child (in this case, my own little girl) sang a cappella the words of Paul Gerhardt: "O wondrous Love, what have You done! The Father offers up His Son, Desiring our salvation. O Love, how strong You are to save! You lay the One into the grave Who built the earth's foundation."

Rejoicing in the adult baptism that took place at our Easter Vigil service, and then hearing the amazing news that Pope Benedict baptized a Muslim man at the Easter Vigil in Rome. Read more about it here.

Waking up at 4:15 a.m. on Sunday morning and not minding one bit because it's Easter and Christ is risen! . . . then hurrying to put on the crock pot and fill the Easter basket before leaving for sunrise service.

Driving to church with my children at 5:45 a.m. and noting with wonder the full moon that due to atmospheric conditions (or something else?) was exhibiting a most unusual glow this day, resulting in vertical and horizontal beams of light emanating from it so as to create a cross shape in the sky . . . the vertical beam was highly pronounced, the horizontal beam less so, but nevertheless, the cross was there, shining in the darkness and leaving me speechless. I stopped at an intersection and tried to take a photo, but time was short and conditions didn't cooperate, so this picture in words will have to suffice. Wow.

Warming up with the adult choir once again on Sunday morning in the Multi-Purpose Room, this time while shivering with cold because the outside door had been left open to help dissipate the haze of smoke wafting in from whatever had burned next door in the kitchen as the youth prepared Easter breakfast.

Enjoying that mouth-watering Easter breakfast (eggs, pancakes, Canadian bacon, pastries, coffee and orange juice) served restaurant, not buffet style, in peace with my husband and two older children while the youngest slumbered at home with Grandma (I picked them both up for a later service).

Thinking to myself during communion that one of the reasons I prefer male lay ministers (aside from its being Biblical) is that there is nothing so touching as seeing those big, strong, tall men humbly serving their brothers and sisters in Christ as, with the utmost care, they carry the very blood of the Saviour and carefully bend down to lift that life-giving chalice to waiting lips while gently gazing into the communicant's face and pronouncing the gift of Christ's blood, "shed for you."

Preparing to accompany the youth choir on organ while my husband (the cantor) and friend (assistant cantor) nervously double-checked stops and pedals for me . . . . I say this not with resentment but with appreciation for their care . . . I am not an organist and need all the help I can get on the rare occasions I lower myself on that bench!

Playing percussion on the Tanzanian hymn "Christ Has Arisen, Alleluia!" (LSB 466) with my two older children as well as the same friend mentioned in the previous line while my husband played piano . . . it was joyful, and all we needed to complete the picture was some of these.

Playing the piano while my daughter's choir sang the Gerhardt hymn "Awake My Heart with Gladness" (full text here) to music by an especially gifted contemporary composer (see more of his stuff here and here).

Listening to my husband play and sing his way through eight liturgies in four days and realizing that having never had another cantor during my 20-plus years in the LCMS I am one blessed Lutheran indeed.

Helping my 4-year-old look for his "Ow-We-Woo-Ya" (Alleluia) butterfly (photo below).




Noting with satisfaction the "Closed" status of many of the retail businesses in our neighborhood as we drove home after services . . . though not as many were closed as on Christmas Day.

Coming home to a waiting crock pot full of this lady's ham and potato casserole (thanks for the recipe, Glenda!)

Returning from taking my mother home Easter evening to discover my four-year-old bleeding from the forehead . . . . a closer look revealed a deep cut in need of more than a bandage. . . . so off to the ER we went. Five stitches and a couple of days later he is doing just fine, but we still can't figure out exactly how one gets a cut on the forehead from running into the refrigerator (no one saw it happen, so we have to rely on his version of events, and all we know is that he was chasing the dog, or vice versa, and somehow the refrigerator attacked him!)

1 comment:

elephantschild said...

He is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!


(I wish we had Easter Vigil at our church.)