". . . 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)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Great Three Days

Today begins the Triduum, the three days leading up to Easter and comprised of Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil (or as I learned to call it in my Roman Catholic days, Holy Saturday). I love this time of the church year not only for the obvious reason--its centrality to my Christian faith--but also for some more selfish reasons. At least in our family, it is a celebration that comes without a lot of worldly trappings and temptations. There are no cards to send, no shopping to do, no decorations to put up, no presents to wrap, and no holiday parties to attend. Oh, we do try to have a special Easter dinner, but if finances allow we go out to do it. And we do leave a gift for each of our children to find on Easter morning. But it's modest compared to what they receive at Christmas, and it doesn't come from the Easter bunny. I have thought in the past about sending out Easter cards--isn't Easter, after all, THE culmination of God's promise to His children? If ever there were a day to celebrate by sending cards to Christian friends, it seems this is it. But I have never really seriously considered it, especially since I do well to get the Christmas cards done each year. And while I might try to find something special with which to adorn the table or entry way of our home--maybe setting out some fresh cut flowers or spring-themed knick-knacks, for example--that's the extent of my Easter decorating (if I even do that).

So instead of getting caught up in the trappings, as I am wont to do at Christmas, and instead of getting stressed out as a result of all those trappings, I find myself going into the Great Three Days with a sense of calm and focus. I can call off school and not feel guilty about it. Even with the increased rehearsals and services that make heavy demands on this family of musicians, today I feel not that life is accelerating beyond my control but that it is slowing down, allowing me time to reflect and pray. For the next three days everything else will fade into the background while the central focus of each day is the evening worship service that will once again relate the greatest love story ever told.

I plan over the next three days to post some musical excerpts from the Triduum services at my parish. I hope you'll stop back by.

"My song is love unknown,
My Savior's love to me,
Love to the loveless shown
That they might lovely be.
Oh, who am I
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh and die.
Here might I stay and sing,
No story so divine!
Never was love, dear King,
Never was grief like Thine.
This is my friend,
In whose sweet praise
I all my days
Could gladly spend!"

("My Song Is Love Unknown," Stanzas 1 & 7, Lutheran Service Book 430)

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