It starts with Palm Sunday.
I had to remind the processional party (choir, crucifer, honourary associate, server etc.) that Jesus was neither a Roman Emperor nor was he a British Imperialist (you know, those nuts for form and order).
I think we forget at times.
More than one person was worried about the Palm procession, because we go outside and as we sing All Glory, Laud and Honour, we often get all mixed up. By the time we enter the church half of us are on another part of the song.
Anglicans do love their order.
God seems to love mess.
The mess of a nice dinner being spoiled by the unruly guest who insists on betraying you.
The mess of a quiet night of prayer in the garden disrupted by burly men and dismembered ears.
The mess of trials that don’t go according to plan and no one wanting to make a decision.
The mess of a crucifixion – blood, bad smells, all the wrong sounds.
Holy Messy Week
I have been a priest for 10 years and each year I approach Holy Week (like I do most seasons in the church) with hope for quiet moments filled with prayer and meditation. Time to read the passion narrative, to reflect on the story anew, to enter into the drama. I even pencil those times into my calendar.
New insights, peaceful meditation.
Day two of Holy Week. I got my schedule mixed up and missed the service of renewal of vows at the cathedral. Read through multiple bulletins for the multiple services this week. Found multiple errors and corrected them.
Wrote the to-do list which included: finish sermon for Maundy Thursday, finish writing meditation on the cross for Good Friday, finish sermon for Easter Sunday.
Oh ya, and prepare the two funerals that are happening in the next 6 days.
Then there is life at home. Curiously I think parishioners think that a priest has a quiet, contemplative life when they are not at church (and maybe while they are at church too). Not so – at least, not yet for me.
Messy Grace, in the middle of it all
And then, while praying today, a sense of God’s spirit saying, “Hold on, it’s going to get messier. Bottom has not yet been hit.”
Friend of my soul. The stories are told in such a way that we often think it was all planned out. Each detail, like a wedding co-ordinator would look after, but in your case, a crucifixion co-ordinator. We lose sight of the chaos, the mess. The pain, the sudden tears. The surprise. As though God shared with you the master plans of it all in detail, saying, “And then Jesus, once you’ve spoken to Pilate the first time, you will be flogged, but the pain will only register around level 6. It will get higher when you are actually on the cross.”
So you invite me, in the middle of my very real life, into the mess, the chaos. Into the fatigue. Into the inconvenient funeral in holy week that takes time away from my preparation. Into the feeling I’ve forgotten something important, like getting chocolate for my grown children or checking in with the parishioner who is dying.
Grace. Mess. And then a whole lot more Grace. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. Be risen anew in me.