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The Silence

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As I write to you, our community at the Seminary has completed its Good Friday service, and we are in quiet until our Vigil, beginning Saturday night.  Since Thursday night, we’ve made many motions to express this special time in our year – kneeling to washing one another’s feet, rising and then being washed by one behind us, singing, chanting, leaving and returning in somber silence, and finally on our knees again beneath a worn wooden cross.  

But now, for better than 30 hours, we do nothing.  When I left the chapel this afternoon, every symbol that reminds me of the work of the people of God was either shrouded or gone.  I am left with walls, and all-too-familiar objects of worship not looking as I know them – empty table, naked lectern.

The easiest thing to do now, I suppose, would be to go on with my day and get some errands done before we get to Saturday night, and see the Paschal Triduum ended for now.  

But instead I wanted to write you, and try to live in a Triduum that hasn’t stopped yet.  And the report from here is one of complete vulnerability.  After all of the movement of the service, I’m left alone, time suspended and empty.  I want very much to hear the triumphal songs of celebration.  If I’m honest, I’d even be okay with reliving the crucifixion, because at least there is noise!

Yet the silence remains.

I’m left to wrestle with powers that assented to the death of Jesus Christ.  I’m left to consider betrayal, heartbreak, agony, violence, and the all-too-near feeling of my own indictment.  

What do I feel when I consider refugees who have been handed to death at the hands of other powers?  

The betrayal on the part of the government of the people of Flint, Michigan?

The heartbreak of the mother who looks at her child and wonders if the child’s belly will ever be full again?

The agony of the man with severe and persistent mental illness who has been imprisoned by those who purport to love and care for him and he is left in a nursing home?  

The violence – both physical and verbal – of our current election season?  Not to mention Ankara, Brussels, Sandy Hook?

Do I deny all of this?  Once, twice, three times?  Or do allow it to be with me in the silence of after-Friday?  Allow, even for a day, to bear the burdens of Jesus in the most minute of ways?

Sunday comes, I’m thankful to know.  There is a God who is triumphant.  But I pray that right now, I don’t give myself that privilege just yet.

That’s my prayer for each of you as well.  Whether you read this days or weeks after Friday afternoon, don’t let this moment sweep by.  While we observe these moments in the rhythm of our calendar, there are many around us who live in their own Fridays, hoping – pleading – for Sunday.  

It may be, in this liminal space, that you encounter Jesus, eyes fixed to God, speaking “Father, forgive them.”

Know that the deep love of my family goes with this letter, and that I hope each of you is well.


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