The Community is Alive…
One of the things I most adore about the Paschal season, is the sense of community I get from my Parish. There is no need to try and synthetically create community through new and inventive strategies, no it is experienced through the collective events we all will experience and participate in throughout the Church calendar, but especially in this Holy season.
As I am preparing for the meal to follow Holy Thursday evening services, I see the hustle and bustle of a community preparing for all that is to come. We all know what to expect. We all know what needs to be done. We all recognize the profundity of what we will be participating in. We prepare together to pray, to worship, to lament, to repent, to keep vigil, and at last to fully celebrate the new life given to us.
I watch as a number of parishioners flutter in with many flowers for Holy Saturday and begin to prepare them for Fr. James to gleefully announce the Harrowing of Hell by showering us with rose petals. Others quietly slip in and begin laying tablecloth on the tables while still others are arranging center pieces. As I mix the apple juice, a coordinator comes in with paperwork showing all of the volunteers who will have roles to play in the preparation of the Feast, which she asks to have me post in the kitchen for reference. More people arrive with food for the evening. Someone is outside putting the finishing touches on the landscaping while a new arrival inside is preparing the big church ovens for use.
This scene will be repeated tomorrow (save for any hint of food preparation – it is after all a full fast day), but with even more intensity, as the tomb of Christ is prepared with hundreds of flowers and other décor. We will be attending a funeral service fit for a king! More cleaning, more preparing, everyone is readying themselves and the Parish for the great community celebration. There is an inherent unifying aspect in this life handed down to us by the Church in her wisdom. Like a great big family preparing for a wondrously formal Thanksgiving at Grandma’s house, so are we preparing for Holy Pascha. It all feels like home to us…you just wanna run up and hug the people laying candles around the Church for the Paschal procession, or the young teen girl adding flowers to the Bier, or the long bearded reader vacuuming the Nave floor, or the couple that blessed the Holy Thursday potluck with whatever that middle eastern leaf wrap thingy was, or the fat bald guy with the goatee making juice in the kitchen.
Sometimes it all seems like some strange and beautiful bastardization between Cheers and Fiddler on the Roof, and I absolutely adore it. On days like today, I thank God that I am apart of this venerable faith and community that spans the centuries.
We wrap preparatory things up in the kitchen and head upstairs to eat God. After the service we’ll eat again…this time a solemn meal downstairs. Finally as the sun sinks below the horizon, thus announcing the beginning of Holy Friday, we will go upstairs and kill God.
...offered by Dn. fdj, a sinner at 11:21 PM [+]