March 30, 2015

Special Monday MEMO

By now you are probably aware of the plaster-fall at Saint Andrew’s a number of weeks ago and the repairs that are well underway. These past three Sundays, we have enjoyed worshiping in the Parish Hall, with its strong connection to the natural world and a wonderful sense of reverence and joy. It, too, is holy space.
Although the ceiling work is only half completed, we had planned for the workers to “pack out” for a week, so that we could reclaim the sanctuary for Holy Week and Easter services. This would have required a LOT of serious cleaning work, which a number of volunteers have graciously agreed to do.
But this past weekend we discovered ways to give the Parish Hall a sense of dignity and beauty appropriate to our high holidays. (See the picture.) We have now decided to let the church sanctuary continue as a “work zone,” and hold our Easter Sunday liturgy in the Parish Hall. I promise you, the Parish Hall-as-Church will be splendid.
Wednesday of Holy Week, Maundy Thursday, and Good Friday observances will be our “Prince Room Chapel.”

HOWEVER, OUR EASTER VIGIL WILL BE OFF-SITE!!! Since our space is always in active use on Saturday evenings with two 12-Step groups, we will hold the Great Vigil of Easter at the DeGroot family’s summer farmhouse in Sandwich! I often remind us that liturgy is always the work (and holy play) of the people, and that it should never be completely dependent on a specific space. We the people, and our prayers and love truly are the church.
So… we will kindle our new fire outside (as always)! We will process by candle light into the deep darkness of their farmhouse, listen in darkness to our sacred stories of God’s saving actions with God’s people, interspersing them with chanted Psalms, and some drama (as always)! We will bless and splash water as we renew our baptismal vows, and we will declare the Risen Christ with loud acclamations and AS MANY BELLS AS YOU CAN BRING!!! Then we will process into the dining area – resplendent in candle-light and celebrate the First Eucharist of Easter together (as always)!!! Except that it will be different, because we will be “nomads” for the evening, and we will have the opportunity to experience the Risen One in our worship and prayer in a new way.
I did not make the decision to change the plans unilaterally. The idea germinated among about six of us together (including wardens, our clerk, the liturgy committee co-chairs, and several others) last Sunday at coffee hour, with spirit-filled energy and excitement at the possibility, and was further affirmed by others, before making this decision and public announcement!
I will send out clear driving directions later in the week, but I wanted you to have this information as promptly as possible so as to encourage you to spread the word.
Special thanks to the DeGroots for their invitation, the Altar Guild for so willingly rolling with the surprises, and to all for the life-giving spirit with which we are working together in this time of bursting new-ness!
I hope you will join us on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday evenings at 7 pm in the Prince Room. (And for quiet reflection on the Seven Last Words on Friday from noon to 2, followed by Stations of the Cross, also in the Prince Room.)
Holy Week blessings,
P.S. We will be back in our familiar and much-loved sanctuary soon. But, when I realized that for us to insist on being in the church for Easter – even when it would require many, many person-hours of heavy cleaning, as well as extra work for the contractors – and knowing that we would have to do a similar amount of cleaning after the rest of the work was completed – it began to hint of idolatry. I suspect years down the pike, we may look back with fondness and a new understanding of what it means to be the church, as we remember late-Lent, Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter of 2015. Don’t miss it!