Friday, April 09, 2004

Maundy Thursday 

The Maundy Thursday service at our church last night was awful.

The A/V person kept messing up the power point slides so only the people who knew the words to “Christ the Rock of Horeb” could keep singing. Then there was some sort of confusion about the tune or the tempo. At one point the pianist stopped playing and held out her hand to stop the congregation so she could explain whatever we were doing wrong, but we kept right on going acapella, incidentally the moment when the silly song sounded best (after all what does it mean that Jesus is the “Rose of Sharon” and the “Lily of the Valley”?).

The slide for the next song had a glaring spelling error (vever instead of beber) which cracked Tim up and sent Veronica and I off into a gale of giggles.

During the sermon the pastor’s four-year-old daughter, Milka, who was sitting directly behind us, talked incessantly to Nahum and since neither of them knows how to whisper this was quite a distraction. I didn’t say anything to them however because I figured it really didn’t matter, as I was so sleepy I could hardly concentrate.

Then we took communion by tincture. If it had been with unleavened bread, that would have been one thing (I always wonder why we don’t use matzo bread. Its not like it’s impossible to find.) But these were generous strips of whole-wheat wonder bread made soggy by the very sweet grape flavored drink. Ugg. It tasted so awful, I almost gagged.

But at some point I realized that all of this awfulness was homey and reassuring. All this bumbling and stumbling made me feel like one of the original disciples, who were called by grace, not for what they could offer, and who demonstrated the hope and promise that what God can do for and through us does not depend on our capacities to understand clearly or perform flawlessly, but because this “all surpassing power is from God and not from us.”

As I looked around at the faces around me – Veronica’s parents who serve and love so well, Flor’s grandmother clinging to God in her pain and loss (26 yr old Flor died last fall), the teenage girls I’ve never seen before (could they see the glory through the homeliness?) – I knew there was something important about being there together, about suffering through our weaknesses as we assemble to remember what Jesus did that Thursday.

I could prepare a better service at home, at least one more meaningful to me, but then it wouldn’t be church, the body of Christ, it would just be one lone appendage.

Lord, thank you that our salvation and our value to your kingdom don’t depend on us and our abilities. Thank you for your grace, which condescends to use us in all our frailty and imitations and laziness and sinfulness, and for the worth and purpose this gives us.

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