From the RevGals:
Well, the Clergy Superbowl is almost upon us, and so, I offer up this Friday Five (with apologies for the irreverent title):
1. Will this Sunday be Palms only, Passion only, or hyphenated?
This Sunday will be palms only, mostly because it's also my congregation's 75th anniversary celebration, and from a logistics standpoint it's tough putting together a truly cohesive Passion Sunday service, nevermind adding all the additional anniversary "stuff" on top of it. (Plus, people don't want a damper put on their celebration with messy things like betrayals, beatings, and crucifixions.) In my perfect little world, Palm Sunday would be Palm Sunday only anyway. Just as Lent is a journey to Easter, so too should Holy Week be. Give me palms and hosannas on Sunday; footwashings, Seder and eucharist on Thursday; "Crucify him!" on Friday; and "He is risen indeed!" on the following Sunday. Trying to mash them all together in an hour takes away from the separate spiritual experiences of the separate parts of the passion, and more importantly takes away the time my brain and my heart have for processing them. That being said, I suppose if folks are only going to come to church on Sundays, giving them the full passion story on Palm Sunday is better than them not getting it at all...
2. Maundy Thursday Footwashing: Discuss.
I've been to services where everyone gets their feet washed by the pastor (ick). I've been to services where everyone washes each other's feet (not as bad). I think footwashing on Maundy Thursday is a wonderful "bringing to life" of something Christ did for his disciples, and a powerful reminder of how we are called to serve each other. That being said, I think the best way to do it in a service is for the pastor to wash one preselected person's feet as an "exemplar" of everyone else. A lot of folks are very self-conscious when it comes to their feet, and you hate for the gospel message to get lost in thoughts of "oh my god my feet are so gross," even though ironically that very thought symbolically is at the heart of the gospel message.
3. Share a particularly meaningful Good Friday worship experience.
The Lutheran Student Center at UNL has had a tradition for a number of years of having a seder meal the evening of Maundy Thursday, followed by the Maundy Thursday service, followed by a prayer vigil. Students (and staff) sign up for half-hour blocks of time through the night. The lights in the sanctuary are dimmed, but there are candles going, and hymnals and prayer resources available in the front pew. All through the night, as Christ is betrayed and put on trial, there is at least one person continually praying. The Good Friday service begins at 7 AM and in the past has been a tenebrae service, with the candles that had been lit the night before being extinguished one by one. Very powerful--all of it.
4. Easter Sunrise Services--choose one:
a) "Resurrection tradition par excellence!"
b) "Eh. As long as it's sunrise with coffee, I can live with it."
c) "[Yawn] Can't Jesus stay in the tomb just five more minutes, Mom?!?"
C. Definitely C. For me, Easter begins no earlier than 8:00. Yes, there may be a service before then, but you aren't gonna hear a full-blooded "HE IS RISEN INDEED!" out of me until at least 8.
5. Complete this sentence: It just isn't Easter without...
It just isn't Easter without the hymn "Jesus Christ is Risen Today, Alleluia!" (LBW#151). Anything else is optional. For that reason, since I have to play for both our traditional and contemporary services Easter morning, we're doing that hymn at both, genre be damned. Organ and trumpet at first service, piano, guitars, bass, and songleaders at second service. Now that's praise music!!!!!!!