Tuesday in Holy Week
For many of us, there's a lot of heavy lifting to do during Holy Week. Clergy are preparing for multiple services, daily, each with its own choreography and most with sermons or homilies. Music directors and choirs must figure out how to cover all the services with singers and musicians. Church staff are churning out bulletins and making sure the websites and answering machine messages have all the times listed correctly and the volunteers are taking all the extra calls about everything. Readers and acolytes are needed for unusual times, like Thursday night. The Altar Guild is on duty daily.
And life is still going on as if none of this were happening. Baseball practice or symphony rehearsal is still scheduled, Maundy Thursday notwithstanding. People who have jobs are expected to show up and work as usual, the noon Stations of the Cross notwithstanding. The jazz combo has a gig on Good Friday, a big case is being argued in court, patients are not expecting to wait until after Easter to be seen. There's a funeral to be attended out of town and homework and customers. Everyone is juggling schedules. Life goes on.
It's intense. But actually, it's not unusual. All these things are true, on a smaller scale, every week. We still have to be committed to making time for worship, for prayer, for gathering together, for putting aside the never-ending to-do list and attending to our spiritual lives. Life in God is not something we just do on Sundays for an hour.
This is much more obvious during Holy Week, but it is not any more true. It is always a temptation to skip morning prayer in order to get in a workout or go to coffee with a friend; it is always hard to take twenty minutes for contemplation on Thursday nights. There is always something else that the world beckons us toward that happens at the same time as the time we meant to attend to the Holy.
There have been times when I thought that the monastic life was the only way to truly live a life of prayer. The world is just so distracting! Having prayer scheduled and attendance mandatory as a matter of living out one's vows seemed to me the way to go.
But of course, we have all taken those vows. In our baptismal covenant, we have vowed to life a life of prayer, of feasting and fasting, of teaching and learning, of gathering and studying. It's the other stuff that gets worked in, not the other way around. We make those vows again and again before God and everybody (and will do so again at Easter), and we will vow to uphold one another in our life of attending to the Holy.
We have to be intentional about prayer and about having and developing a spiritual life. It's only when we learn that there are many kinds of prayer and that there are many ways to attend to the Holy that we will find that it is indeed what we do all the time, and it is the rest of the stuff that gets worked in.