Sunday, April 13, 2014
Palm Sunday Serendipity (continued)
As natural light wanes, the shadows lengthen and the delicate light of candles, already lit, adds a sense of awesome reverence to this sacred place. The bells have pealed continuously for over a half-hour, underscored by the hushed greetings and murmurings of the pious, now gathering. In some such places, reverence is austere, even cold. In St Mary Abbots, it is as warm, comfortable and welcoming as a cashmere blanket.
A young couple, their precious cargo bundled in a stroller, are the youthful exceptions to the patronage of tonight's service....by far. By all appearances, those who gather here this evening have always done so and will continue to do so until the time when they gather in another, even holier place.
The alien screech of a siren somehow finds it's way in from the still-bustling street. The unwelcome sound underscores the shortness of the distance yet the vastness of the dissimilarity between the "within" and the "without". I am constantly reminded: sanctuary.
The Passion of Christ is the most moving part of the Easter season for me. I take it very personally when we answer Pilate in unison: "Crucify him!" when he asks "what of Jesus?" Thus, we accept the responsibility for our Saviour's fate, a fate suffered so that our sins may be forgiven. Tonight, rather than actively participating in this annual ritual, I will hear others sing it, as interpreted by Johann Sebastian Bach.
The instrument tuning has started again...
The vicar welcomes us warmly and admonishes us strongly: "mobile phones" are not permitted.
"Switch them off.
You simply don't need the damned things!"
He then took his place in the choir where he sang with a perceptible gusto. Though it wasn't possible to distinguish which was his voice, if its quality matched its passion, he was certainly a notable asset to the performance.
The interlude in the performance occurs at the point where Jesus agonizes in the Garden of Gethsemane. How ironic that so many of the celebrants choose to stretch their legs in St Mary Abbot's garden, resplendent in springtime.
When we return, we follow Christ's passion in earnest culminating with the soprano's solo lament, "It is fulfilled".
What a wonderful service. What a wonderful experience. What will my next cancellation bring? For all of life's blessings, especially the unforeseen ones, I am so grateful!
I remember thinking, "This is such a special experience, I can't believe that I'm here alone." But I wasn't alone.
The faithful are never alone.