Monday in Holy Week
This is the last Holy Week of my active ministry -- in future, I will participate in it, but I will not be the one responsible for letting these sober days lead the faithful through the death of Jesus and into his resurrection. Always in the past, I have steeled myself for the extra burden of sermons, the extra liturgies, the extra leaflets that must be prepared -- so much more must be done to make this week what it should be.
Of course, I have never been the only one who worked hard in Holy Week. The choirs and their directors, the altar guild, the parish administrator, the sexton, the parents, those planning the different meals, the marshals for the Good Friday walk through town, the ushers, the lectors -- everybody responds to its quickening. I have always felt that exhaustion is just part of it. Now I wonder what Holy Week will be like when that is no longer so.
What will retirement be like? From earliest childhood, I have loved leading: gathering people together and helping them create something wonderful. You do sacrifice some things when you're a leader -- you are a public person, and can never base your actions solely on your own comfort level. You have a duty to others which they do not have to you.
But wait -- everybody has fiduciary duty. Everybody sacrifices on behalf of a higher duty. Parents may not feel like getting up at night to soothe a sick child, but they do. Doctors on call snap awake out of a sound sleep when the pager rings at midnight, long years having conditioned them to do so. Teachers sit up with their lesson plans on Sunday evenings, instead of watching television with the rest of the family. All of us give up something -- give up a lot, in fact -- in the service of something more important than ourselves.
What is most important about a leader is not that s/he is greater than the rest of us, but that
s/he IS us. Something like this is true of Jesus as well: as we move toward the crucifixion and resurrection, what is important about Jesus' death is not that it is worse than ours, but that it IS ours. Many of us will lead, one day -- maybe now, maybe later on. We will all give more than is convenient -- maybe now, maybe later. And we will all die. Jesus shows us a way to live our lives and a way to face our death, whatever it may be and whenever it comes.
After a long hiatus, during which I was the interim rector of St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Metuchen, NJ, I resume publication of the Almost-Daily eMo from the a Geranium Farm. I also resume, within reasonable limits for a retired person, my life as an itinerant evangelist:
May 2nd. Quiet Day at St, Johns in the Wilderness, Copake Falls, NY.
May 3rd. St. Luke's, Darien, CT
May 5th. Massachusetts Corps of Fire Chaplains, Medfield, MA.
May 7th. Diocese of CT Episcopal Church Women, Plantsville, CT.
May 9-10. Grace and Holy Trinity Cathedral, Kansas City MO 64105. 816.474.8260
June 15-24. Summer Intensive Course, "Leading Retreats and Quiet Days, General
Theological Seminary, Center forChristian Spirituality, 212-243-5150.
Sunday mornings June 14-Sep 6. Holy Trinity, Spring Lake, NJ, 9am, celebrant and preacher.