Friday, April 10, 2009

Sermon - Good Friday

This Good Friday sermon turned out really well. I got quite emotional about half way through but managed to not cry--definitely in the moment. I owe some credit to Deborah Meister, one of my seminary friends, who preached a sermon in 2002 that began in a similar way to this one (using Psalm 22 and also the poem "In The Desert" by Stephen Crane). But after the first couple of paragraphs I depart from her sermon completely. Too bad, in a way, because she continues the thread about the self-destructive, gnawing-on-your-own-hand, stuff with a fascinating quote from a Pakistani General. He really thought Pakistan should go head and nuke India and receive the retaliation and just get the whole thing over with. Scary. Deborah got her Ph.D. from UCLA in English Literature before pursuing her call to the cloth, so she always had excellent literary quotes!

Our Good Friday liturgy at COTM was powerful. Attendance was much higher than last year--a whopping 70 (up from 44 last year). There were seven or eight visitors, but most of the jump was due to the fact that the kids (and thus, their families) were much more engaged with Holy Week this year thanks to the Youth group Maundy Thursday Vigil. In fact, the kids never went home this morning!

Last night I did indeed walk to St. Mary Magdalene's to visit the Sacrament there while the kids were doing their part at my own church. It was a beautiful walk under a full Pascal Moon. I said the Stations of the Cross while I walked from the devotionally handy St. Augustine's Prayer Book. I thought of the city. I prayed for the people I saw enjoying the first night of a long weekend. When I arrived at SMM it was warm and bright and clean feeling. A parishioner was keeping watch with the vigil. I said some prayers, lit a candle, and walked home. A fitful sleep.

Today the Rev'd Marili Moore, our Honorary Assistant, served as Liturgical Deacon and also sang with the choir. We made good use of her gifts, and that's her singing the Good Friday Antiphon of the Cross in the title sequence of the sermon video below. After the cross was brought in the three of us, myself, Marili, and the server all did full prostration in front of the cross. It's the sort of thing you might expect in a more Anglo-Catholic parish, but my folks here like it just fine. Incense, on the other hand, is still out--too many people with allergies.

The music was perfect and included the Gospel hymn "Were You There" as well as "Pie Jesu" from Webber's Requiem Mass. Though my favourite hymn was naturally "Pange Lingua" (sung in English--sorry Geoff). Really powerful stuff.

It never ceases to amaze me how good liturgy can transform moments, people, and even places...

Here's the audio...

Here's a direct link to the MP3 file...


1 comment:

Geoff said...

I'm totally down with liturgy in the vernacular (though I wish Latin liturgy weren't quite as rare as it is in the Anglican Communion) but on Thursday we sang the hymn in question to Grafton for some reason, rather than to the plainsong as in years past. This made me sad.