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To the Foot of the Cross

March 15, 2018

This Sunday is Lent 5, and the Annual Meeting. We will get to see our Parish Profile for the first time. I am looking forward to seeing how our faithful profile committee has seen us­—how we see each other. One thing I know is that we love our building and music and preaching. And we do not love these things idly, but because the arts can be a powerful doorway into the narrative and meaning of our faith. When we let artists feel and illuminate the stories, they can be translated to us in new and living ways. Our minds and souls and bodies can interact with God in Christ, through art, architecture and sound, more directly than our brains can perhaps process.

I find this especially important as I prepare myself for Holy Week. The tale of the Passion of Jesus is so condensed, so emotionally fraught, and so potent that I struggle to distill its meaning in any coherent, intellectual way. Paul acknowledges this. He says the cross of Jesus is “a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Greeks.” Its power cannot be defined by analysis or sense. It is, however, a journey we can know by feeling; a pilgrimage we can experience through art and music, and being together.

Here is a poem I wrote about preparing for Holy Week:

Why is Your tale so hard to find?

It’s right there, on the printed page.

Yet I cannot get there in my mind—

Actors loafing by an empty stage.

Each year, in patterned phrases, once again

Together we the well-known words retell.

Forty days we’ve seen it coming, then

It’s time: we strive to illustrate it well.

Amidst the music, patient sitting,

In the drone of lectored words,

We pray You'll find us, though we're flitting

From thought to thought, unruly birds.

Somehow you’ll live again this week,

In scenes with soldiers, foes and friends;

Enter our errant hearts—we seek

To find Your truth, which never ends.

I share all of this by way of invitation. This year, Kirsten Cairns (professional stage director and parishioner) and I are developing a new way to experience Good Friday. It is the same task as every year: retell the story in such a way that we can enter into it. As usual, the three-hour service will include psalms, readings and music. But this year, we aim to add an extra layer, through movement and symbol.

We will use the psalms to imagine Jesus’ own prayer, and the comfort He may have found in the familiar words, on that terrible, redemptive day. We will use fabric to symbolize the blood, on all our hands, and yet by which we are saved. Together we will sing, speak, move and pray—and draw closer to the foot of the Cross.

For those who would like to be more closely involved, we invite you to come early, at 11 to 11:15 a.m., and be part of the drama.  All are warmly invited to be with us for this Meditation, for whatever part of the three hours you can manage; if your schedule permits, we strongly encourage you to walk the entire Way of the Cross with us. Together, let it be our care to hear again the message of the Cross, and in heart and mind to go even unto Jerusalem, and see this thing which is come to pass.


See you in church!

The Reverend Rita T. Powell

Associate Rector


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