Friday, April 06, 2007

Lenten Music brings reflection and remembrance

I've not been posting much lately, for reasons I'll explain in another post, but I have been reading other blogs. I’ve been especially drawn to those with Lenten reflections. The Psalmist has been posting a daily Lenten hymn. Many of these are old favorites; some are completely unfamiliar. Some of the Lenten hymns capture the concept of our sin and guilt, but Christ’s payment for that, more deeply and meaningfully than anything else I’ve seen.

These hymns have brought back memories of the Wednesday evening Lenten services at the church where I was raised, in Milwaukee. We always attended. It is just what we did. Several years, the pastor showed a film series about Holy Week or about the life of Christ. These images have stuck in my mind and, fortunately, are very powerful when I hear the passion story read from the Bible. And we always attended Good Friday services, which is also what I did today. That service was a poorly attended service bringing together 6 churches and their pastors in our town. Somehow the parents don’t instill this attitude of “this is what we do because of what Christ did for us.”

I’ve attended the Wednesday evening Lenten services here as I usually have. We have a soup supper first, choir practice after church. It is a good evening of fellowship and reflection, and fairly well attended. I preached at one of the services. Last night we had a Maundy Thursday service, including communion and Tenebrae. That was poorly attended, no young people, and only about 3 children. It certainly is true that many people go from the high of the Passion Sunday to the high of Easter without the depths of the agony of Jesus on the cross. I guess it is the same old story: just think of the crowds on Palm Sunday. The theology of Glory, without the theology of the Cross.

The service last evening was so beautiful, so meaningful, IMHO. Is it right to prescribe beauty to the remembrance of the Last Supper? During the Tenebrae, the Bell Choir played two pieces, “Two Meditations on the Cross” and “On Eagle’s Wings,” the choir sang four pieces, “Always Remember,” O Sacred Head, Now Wounded” (not the usual one), “Lamb of God,” and “Glory be to Jesus.” And our pianist and violinist played a duet of the theme music from Schindler’s List.

Easter and the resurrection await. Easter morning we’ll be up early for early choir practice, singing at two services, and serving communion at the late (9:30 am) service. I’m glad I don’t have this schedule with the added responsibilities of the pastor.


  1. I am so happy to have gone to the Holy Week services as a child--probably forced, i don't remember. But now, as a leader, it saddens me to see how few people attend the services that retell and recreate the very heart of our Christian faith.

    Last night, our two-year old was the only person under 15 at the Good Friday service. He ate his cookies, sometimes listened intently, sometimes colored, and was fascinated by the candles. When the sanctuary was dark, he was saying "Light on. Light on." I think he gets it. and I hope he will have the meaning of these stories as a part of who he is.

  2. I think parents often forget how much they influence their children by what they "just do." And maybe there are times that needs to be explained, but when it is obvious that it is a time priority, that speaks volumes.

    [Also by what they don't do!]

    A few years ago, my younger daughter said something about "having" to attend the Wed. evening Lenten service. We thought she meant that she was part of the service, leading something. But no, it turned out that she just wanted to be there. She was getting there on her own, so there was nothing forced. Unfortunately that year the pastor we had included lots of hymns, talking, and other stuff that dragging out the length of the service. My daughter was disappointed because she had been looking forward to a contemplative service, as she remembered from prior years.

    Pastors and church leaders could probably do more to "sell" the concept of attending church during Holy Week, rather than just "mentioning it" on Palm Sunday.

    A 40-somthing year old woman, raised in our congregation, attended Wed. evening services this year for the first time because her husband is on the council. She was very happy and said how wonderful the whole evening was and how she just didn't know and how we should explain it more to other people.

    Hmmmmmm Don't just assume that people know what this is all about. If they haven't been there, they need a special invitation.


And what do you think?