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Don’t just do something!  Sit there!

The Rev. Patrick Ward
March 22, 2018

I wonder what Jerusalem was like on the morning of the crucifixion.  As we Trinity pilgrims walked the Via Dolorosa one morning last October, I couldn’t help but notice everything that others were doing even as – at dawn – we wound our silent way through the streets of the Old City. Israeli soldiers in clumps were moving to their posts. A few early shopkeepers hauled up their shutters and feral cats explored the piles of trash awaiting collection.

On that other morning so long ago, the city would have been full of Passover pilgrims and Roman soldiers charged with maintaining order. I imagine Christ’s beaten body and tottering steps as a sort of marginal sideshow in the heart of a bustling and preoccupied city. I remember what the poet W.H. Auden observes about suffering – that it always takes place “while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.”  

For we Christians, Holy Week itself unfolds, against the wider culture, in a similar way. The world does not stop for Holy Week as it does for Christmas. Often at the Triduum, Copley Square is invaded by construction crews preparing for the Marathon or the sweetly odd and bizarrely costumed attendees of the annual Anime Convention at the Hynes. And in the heart of a bustling and preoccupied city, our ancient rituals instead ask us to do something counter-cultural. They ask us to stop. They ask us to pay attention. They ask us to witness the cycle of love and death and resurrection that is as urgent and as true as anything we know. “Don’t just do something,” said an Anglican nun to me once while we were talking about the tradition of noon-to-three worship on Good Friday. “Sit there.”  The poet Mary Oliver puts it this way: “To pay attention/This is our endless and proper work.”

We invite you to be with us as much as you can in this week to come. Your presence with us between Thursday and Sunday is such a part of what makes this week holy. 

See you in church,



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