girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

this week...

tonight will be the first official discussion group for young adults up at MSC. tonight's topic is going to be immigration and the rallies that have been going on this past week....well, it will be a loose conversation on that. we'll see where it goes. tonight i'm going to propose that we all sit down and watch "brokeback mountain" next week. the group of people that will be there tonight, my friends, are torn on the movie. i'm hoping that by watching it and actually seeing it for what it is, we'll get some good conversation going-not just on homosexuality, but the media and our very sheltered suburban views as well.

i'm also thinking a lot about this week being holy week. ken mentioned that on thursday night we'll be having a maunday thursday service and i'm wondering what it will look like. i pulled out a lot of my old episcopal bulletins from the church and i've been looking them over. it's amazing to see how far i've come in the past 5 years. it doesn't feel like that long ago that i knew what a pew felt like, what dressing in a white acolyte robe felt like, what communion wine tasted like. it's different...

for us, maunday thursday was the night where all the priests got down in the bright, white robes to wash some of the congregations' feet. that act of submission was a beautiful thing. the men that did it were beautiful in their act of servanthood. they asked for random people in the congregation to come forward and i remember once when i did it. the head priest actually asked me to volunteer-i'm not sure if he was doubting the participation or if he had something in mind, but it was wonderful. it was heartwrenching. it was God.

the good friday (or black friday) services were hard. ever since i was about 11 i was an acolyte, and on that specific night i was one of the head acolytes. we would set out a row of candles with the christ candle in the middle and as people stood up to read passages (usually very sad laments) they would each extinguish their own candle. as they did, the lights in the sanctuary would be dimmed until at the end of the readings the room would be almost pitch black. the only thing giving light was the christ candle. then the choir would begin to sing "were you there" and specific women in the congregation would come forward to begin to strip the altar. not only did they take down all the dressing on the altar, but the priest also stripped down to his regular black robe and white collar. he was exposed. the altar was exposed. the congregation sat in the dark reflecting on the sad laments and what was about to take place. as the congregation remained knelt in silence, myself and another acolyte would leave the sanctuary and head outside to the fellowship hall. we carried the elements, the host with us. our priest would whisper quietly to hurry as we quietly, secretly left. the fellowship hall would be filled with flowers...tons of flowers and we would place the host on an alternate altar in the midst of them. there they would...there christ would remain... until easter. during the next 24 hours people would be in constant watch over them. the easter vigil. we all took an hour long segment of time to go and sit, and watch, and wait with christ. my friends and i always took the hardest hours, usually 3:30-4:30. we were young, still are, and it meant the most to us. the hour was hard. it was hard to stay awake. it was hard to bear the burden of what we were symbolizing. no matter how old you are, that feeling is there.
whenever the priest and my fellow acolyte and i returned to the sanctuary the room was pitch black. people were still singing acapella. then, after we knelt down at the center altar, just the 3 of us, there would be a loud drum on a gong and a crash. the curtain had been torn. it was scary and painful.

i would cry...pretty much through the whole service. hearing the weeping of others around me and sitting there in the was powerful. watching my priest, my head priest, undress himself in the dark and strip down...was uncomfortable and yet beautiful. i saw him as a man there in the dark. he was no different than me. he was humbled. we were all humbled.

then, after the loud roar, people could leave. most would just stay and remain kneeled until they could stop crying and leave. no one really exchanged words...they just left. i remember once where i stayed there at the altar for hours. i couldn't move. even now it makes me tear up.

now, if you know me, you know that i am one of the most critical people of the traditional church. i think most of its doctrine and liturgy is bogus and dumb, but there are just some things you can't shake. it's not that the good friday service pulled on people's emotions or manipulated them into anything, i think it really was a true, symbolic remembrance of what happened.

as i travel through this week, i remember a lot. not only of christ's week and walk toward the cross, but also my past. i can only hope that i never forget what it was like to be with christ in the lonely hours before his crucifixion and that i can translate that onward as i move in the emergent church. i hope that as we all travel together that we cling to the good from tradition and move toward the future with fresh eyes. i hope that we can all be open to bringing our pasts to the table and all be willing to look to the possibilities of what we can be.

my prayer is that we don't forget what this week is. tonight, as i go to my discussion group, we'll be talking about immigration, homosexuality, ethics, etc., but i know that no matter how distant we may seem from the matters of the new testament's days, we are still in the story together. the apostles may not have struggled with some of these issues, but no matter. we are linked. we are inseparable. we are a family, and this week i remember them. my heart goes out to them...and to you, whoever may choose to read this. my prayer is that you too may feel the joys...and the sorrows...of christ.

God bless.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

back in the swing of things?

i met with ken today for the first time in a long time. well, i guess "met" is a funny word to use seeing as how he and i end up spending at least a little time with each other every day. he and i haven't met to discuss any of the "internship" stuff in awhile, so it was nice getting to actually sit and chat about something other than food, drink orders, or how i could totally beat him in hold 'em....just kidding.


we did talk about everything else though, and it felt good to just sit again. life gets so busy sometimes, and it's been hard keeping up with it all lately. when i started out here in tomball again for this internship it was only supposed to be a couple of days...and then it became a job...and now i'm there everyday! how quickly i jumped right in!!!

i'm glad that i have other people around that seem to resonate with my belief system. it has been difficult these past few years not really knowing where i belonged, but now i home. i came out of my "religious closet" and found that maybe the way i feel is okay! ha! seriously, it's good knowing that no matter how many questions i ask (which are plenty apparently!) it's okay, and i will still beloved no matter how silly or scary my questions get. the best part of it all is that i'm daily becoming more and more encouraged to explore and express myself. i'm gaining a confidence that i didn't have before and it's mostly due to the support i'm being given by ken and everyone else out at wellspring. it's beautiful...

...most of the time at least. it still gets hard on occasion. i'm still learning what God has in store for me, and sometimes that's a hard thing to grasp by itself. i've been challenged lately to really figure out what it means to "hear" from God and how i communicate with Him. that and other questions have kind of thrown me for a loop, but i'm still along for the ride.

tonight is my first discussion group up at main street...well, kind of. tonight is just the meet and greet since it's aaron (the 2nd service's pastor) but it should be fun nonetheless! i'll update later!

Monday, April 03, 2006