Nothing moves the spirit, soul and body more than Holy Week and Easter. Nothing on the church calendar compares to this most powerful week of the year. This year was no different. From Palm Sunday where we began in great triumph with Windjun the Donkey, to the end of that service where we read the Crucifixion story and then departed. We then re-set on Maundy Thursday, following the mandate of our Lord to wash the feet of each other, followed by the dramatic stripping of the altar, complete with a padlock over the altar rail, and lightning as we came out!. This literally transformed the sanctuary into a darkened tomb, preparing the scene for Good Friday. Friday started out as every Good Friday should, dark, windy, wet and chilly. Perfect to begin our Good Friday stations of the cross through the city of Charleston. With our neighboring churches participating it was once again a powerful experience. We noticed as we walked behind the cross through the streets, some would simply stop, some even made the sign of the cross, others just looked like they stopped to pray. It was an effective witness in the city. Following this experience, we then had our 2 services in the sanctuary, which ended once again with a darkened church with only a cross inside.
Saturday began a new day, as all the clergy gathered in their offices to help prepare parishioners for Easter Sunday through one on one counseling and confession. It was a roll up your sleeves kind of day! As we were preparing hearts, the flower and altar guilds were preparing the sanctuary, making that transition from Good Friday to Easter Sunday. It is quite a visual walking in to see tables, scissors, flowers, and buckets by the masses everywhere in the sanctuary! Well done guilds! Well done Arthur!
Between the powerful liturgies of the week and the day of counsel and confession, I went home feeling entirely poured out. So I decided to do something completely different.
For the very first time in my life, I got my mother (visiting from Boston), Elizabeth, and the children and we picked loquats from our loquat tree in the yard. What is a loquat? Look carefully above and you can see the fruit that taste like an apricot.
We had never done this before, and what an experience it was! For many years I have watched these loquats fall and go ‘squish’ on the pavement, but this year, after plucking them we made ‘loquat cobbler.’ It was so much fun and in a way, entirely appropriate for that transition day between Good Friday and Easter Sunday. How? I find that I feel quite pruned during Holy Week. In walking that final walk with Jesus to Calvary, much of the time is spent listening, as we open ourselves to be pruned, re-shaped and sculpted by Jesus Christ. A week of surrendering our sin to Christ, asking him to take them, indeed all of that which we are, and transform us in His image into something amazing.
The last thing I did that night was to put the Loquat Cobbler into the refrigerator.
That then set the tone for the banquet feast that was to come! The transformation of the tomb and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ! I woke up to eagerly meet this ‘banquet’ day, preached at the battery Sunrise service, walked back and was immersed in the sounds of our tower bells, and then walking into the sanctuary, fully saturated in the music of Handels Messiah by our choir and orchestra. We had great crowds at 8, 10:30 and 6pm.
What a week it was, full of pruning, harvesting and a new creation! My one hope for next year is that more of you would make it your priority over every other good thing to join our Lord Jesus Christ on his final walk to Calvary. My prayer for next year is that our sanctuary would be filled to overflowing not just on Palm Sunday and Easter, but Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday as well. It’s much easier to be pruned, re-shaped and transformed when show up!
~ The Rector