Much busy-ness getting ready for the liturgy. Ten minutes looking for a suitable patten. Five minutes looking for suitable pitcher. I was frazzled as we began.
After a beautiful service for the lighting of the evening lamp and the blessing of bread (read in Hebrew) my people sit down for an Agape-style meal. As we eat one of my parishioners tried to convince me that Jesus was not frazzled, but relaxed at the Last Supper. I argue the opposite, that he was in fact quite tense about what was coming, and that the he was worried he could be arrested at any moment, and that he thought his disciples should be more worried than they were. But I understand that my being frazzled is not something he wants to see, but it's who I am at that moment, fretting about the details.
Tables cleared, I say the Mass. The sacrament is passed hand to hand in silence around the tables. The kids table is especially solemn--they get it.
After that, more scripture then the washing of the feet. I know the BAS calls for Washing of the Feet after the sermon, not after Communion, but I'm just following my Lord's example. My knees hurt. I begin regretting that I wasn't wearing more vestments for padding. A parishioner comes over and offers me a towel for my knees but I refuse, it would just get in the way. Washing feet. Clean feet, stinky feet. Big feet, kid feet. I'm working up a sweat, I don't mind that the people see how hard service is. Follow me. Serve to lead.
More scripture--the agony in the Garden and the arrest. Silence. lights turn off. Candles blown out. Altar stripping as we sing Taize. More lights off. At last with the room bare, even of tables and chairs, I carry the Tabernacle to the Vestry as the head of the chancel guild follows with the sanctuary candle. People filter out.
Except the confirmation kids. They are spending the night with their teachers in vigil. I put the tabernacle and the sanctuary candle back on the altar for them. Then sit down in the near darkness for some prayers of my own. St. Augustine's Prayerbook, an old friend at times like these. I look at the icon on the door of the tabernacle and it looks back at me. Jesus.
Vigils I have known: the crypt chapel at Holy Cross, Holy Faith Church in L.A., St. Luke's chapel in seminary, St. John's, NJ, the eve of my ordination, St. Mary Mag's, Church of The Messiah... Stories for another day....
I'm no longer frazzled, but calm and warm with pride for the people that were here (nearly twice as many as last year) and the people that weren't. I'm proud for the kids who are spending the night. I'm thinking of all the people around the world sitting vigil with our Lord. I'm thinking that I should walk, tonight, back to St. Mary Magdalene and say some prayers there. Then maybe check in on my own kids tonight as they draw close to the Lord. Love. Love. Love.