I think things went well, judging from my observations and from folks comments. the Spirit was alive & active in worship today.
after the procession with the palms, and our opening hymn, we heard the 1st 2 lessons. Then, I introduced the Gospel with the following:
Dear friends: Holy Week,
which began as we entered the sanctuary
w/ Palm leaves & Hosannas,
is a time of symbolic pilgrimage:
from triumph to trial, to death and beyond.
Because life is busy;
because we would rather celebrate the joys
rather than observe the tribulations,
it will be tempting this week
â€“ as it is in much of life â€“
to take a short cut:
to skip the betrayals & the denials & the desertions
of Maundy Thurs & Good Friday;
we will be tempted to skip the dying,
& to come back only when we once more break out
the alleluias on Easter.
But, I encourage you, if at all possible,
to walk the whole path this week, Maundy Thurs & Good Fri. Discover where your own pilgrimage intersects
w/ the journey of your brothers & sisters in Christ.
We began our journey today
as we marched into church with a hymn of acclamation.
Now, I invite you to enter even more deeply into the Gospel now.
Be the crowd.
Feel the crisp Spring air.
Smell the dust of the road.
And, when the crowds roar out again â€“ youâ€™ll know when â€“
join your voices with theirs,
feel the shouts reverberate in your bones and in your heart,
and in your gut.
Donâ€™t just hear the Gospel today.
Live into it,
as God, who loves us beyond all imagining,
reaches out from heaven,
and from the cross,
to invite us home.
After that, the readers' theater folks came forward, and all sat in chairs near the altar, except "Jesus", who stood in the pulpit. I narrated from a chair that was out of view of the congregation. We did not alter the text at all, merely read it with great depth of feeling -- especially "Jesus" who was feeling the full impact of the emotion Jesus must have really felt.
then, when "Jesus" declared "it is finished" and he had breathed his last , the house lights went totally out. I finished the narrative part of the text in the dark. then, the organist waited almost a full minute before we turned the lights back up and we sang the hymn of the day. The reading and the silence was the sermon. Nothing else was needed.
Then, while the offering was being taken, I was moved to quietly recruit an additional communion assistant, so that after people came up for communion, they could, if they wished, kneel at the altar for me to lay hands on in prayer. Several people accepted prayer, and then the last one at the railing graceously allowed me to kneel while he prayed for me. Coincidentally enough, it was the man who read Jesus' lines from the Gospel text....
gardeners know all the best dirt!