Tuesday, March 25, 2008

A Holy, Holy Week

Last week was the most amazing Holy Week I have ever had. I continue to be awed and amazed by all of the ways in which God showed up - the resurrected Christ who stands in our midst, calling us by name. As I reflect back upon the week, I am reminded of many things that stand out, making it very distinct and special.

Last week, I prayerfully wrote three sermons. Starting with the task on Monday and finishing by Thursday afternoon, I wrote sermons for Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter. I diligently searched the texts, but I also prayed the texts. This work was focused work because I told people what was important to me. I did not do anything building related last week. I refused to meet with anyone on the property development or building detail. Instead, I focused fully and abundantly on being a pastor.

I now wonder how many other weeks during the year need to be spent without meetings on the building but only things that are necessary - only things that give life - visits to the shut-ins, prayers at bedsides, personal notes written for encouragement, lots of study, lots of prayer, lots of sermon preparation. Why is it that we pastors allow ourselves to get so distracted on things that were never mentioned when the Bishop laid her hands on us, ordaining us to a ministry of Word, service, sacrament and order?

On Thursday evening, I preached at Mount Olive Baptist Church, the church of one of my colleagues in the Doctor of Ministry program at Wesley. Mount Olive is a large, African American Baptist Church in Arlington, and this congregation provided me with the most amazing preaching experiencing I have ever had. I am so thankful.

On Friday, I gathered with individuals from the downtown community at nearby Asbury United Methodist Church for the Seven Last Words of Christ service. As always, it was a blessing to share in this sacred space on this most sacred of days.

On Sunday, we had a glorious Easter celebration at Mount Vernon Place with the largest crowd of people that I have seen in my nearly three years at Mount Vernon Place. Last year, we let go of some of the things we always do - like passing the peace and asking people to share their joys and their concerns - in order to save time on Easter. But this year, we did what we always do - we tried our best to faithfully be the Body of Christ - an authentic community of faith. I hope and pray that all who came were blessed.

As I look back upon last week, the time that stands out to me more than any other is Maundy Thursday. I keep thinking about the mandate Jesus gave to us on the night before he was crucified. On this night, Jesus got down on his feet and washed the feet of his disciples. On this night, Jesus wanted to teach the disciples what people in the church - what his followers should do - what kind of love they should embody - so Jesus washed feet - on his knees. The mandate given to us by Jesus is that we should love one another as Christ has loved us - serving one another as Christ has served us.

Can you imagine a church filled with people on their knees?
Can you imagine a church filled with individuals who want to serve like Christ?
Can you imagine a church filled with men and women who are willing to wash feet - to wash the dirtiest part of a person's body?
Can you imagine what it might look like if we really lived this mandate?

As I sit in the construction trailer where my office is now located, my desk vibrating because of the machinery that is working on our church building just outside, I keep thinking about everything that could happen in that building.

We will have showers. Who will we wash?
We will have a kitchen. Who will we feed?
We will have a nursery. Whose children will we welcome?
We will have a sanctuary with lots and lots of doors. How wide will we open them?

"This is my commandment," Jesus says, "that you love one another as I have loved you."

1 comment:

Carol Howard Merritt said...


I'm always amazed at your ability to juggle the pastorate and the construction demands. You're doing a great job.