Monday in Holy Week
Singing "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded" is one of the "joys" of Holy Week. Bach's chorale from his St Matthew's Passion is a beautiful expression of piety - familiar, yet not overused the way Christmas songs can be - that never fails to move me when I sing it.
But on Sunday I did stop singing it, because halfway through the first verse I saw, out of the corner of my eye, my son and several other boys carrying a huge cross down the aisle of the nave. I've seen that cross almost every Palm/Passion Sunday for sixteen years - it's more than ten feet tall and very heavy and plain - but seeing my younger son and the young man who lives next door and other teens bringing it in just stopped me in my tracks. They were very intent on their task, and attended to the raising of it with workmanlike precision, and all the while we (or at least most everyone around me) sang on "Ah, keep my heart thus mov-ed to stand thy cross beneath, to mourn thee, well beloved, yet thank thee for thy death..... Lord, let me never, never, outlive my love for thee.... My days are few, O fail not, with thine immortal power, to hold me that I quail not in death's most fearful hour; that I may fight befriended, and see in my last strive to me thine arms extended upon the cross of life." And at the end of the singing, the sound of the hammer, fixing the cross upon its place at the crossing while the boys came round to their seats beside us... And my heart was mov-ed and my eyes were full of tears.
I spent the first couple of years after coming back to church (after a long absence) sitting in church with my tears leaking out most every week. Tears of regret, of sadness, of joy, of relief, of surrender. The grand drama of the Holy Week liturgies particularly entice me to connect with my own brokenness and the brokenness of the world we live in. The world where violence is on view everywhere and lying and cheating are part of everyday life. The world where justice still does not roll down like the waters. The world in which those whose job it is to protect the vulnerable choose instead to protect themselves and their peers. The world where people are still spitting on one another and mocking and calling one another names. The world my children are learning to navigate.
The world God desires to transform into the new heaven and new earth.