Friday, April 3, 2015
When We're Not Looking
Here at St. John's, we don't have an all-night vigil after the Maundy Thursday service. In some congregations, a constant watch is kept--usually in the place where the sacrament is reserved. Since we don't have a practice of a daily Eucharist here, we don't reserve the sacrament in order to distribute it on Good Friday, so it seems a little superfluous to ask individuals to sit in the chapel for an hour or two all through the night.
As I drove home last night following the service, however, I began to wonder when it all would take place. I began to worry that, despite my heightened attention and deep desire to accompany Jesus on his journey, I would miss it. Last night, we heard the story of the washing of the disciples' feet. We shared the Communion meal that our Lord instituted "on the night before he died for us." Then, in silence, we stripped the altar and draped the crosses with black shrouds in anticipation of Good Friday. But when did it all happen? When did Jesus go into the garden to pray? When did the crowd come with swords and clubs to arrest him? When did they try him before the mock court? When did they lead him to the governor's palace?
I came to church this morning for the Stations of the Cross, which we walked at 7:00 a.m., and already I was too late. At noon today, we will hear the passion story read. We will hear of the time in the garden, the betrayal, and the arrest, but we weren't there to watch it happen. It happened in the middle of the night. I was at home--eating a late supper, tucking my kids into bed, and eventually climbing into bed myself. Why wasn't I awake? Could I not keep awake one hour?
This morning, my daughter asked me what time Jesus dies. "Traditionally," I told her, "we think of Jesus dying at 3:00 in the afternoon, but we'll be in church at noon to hear the story." I might have missed last night, but I don't have to miss today. Right now, the story is still unfolding. The passion is taking place at this very minute. It's not too late to listen to those words. It's not too late to make the journey with Christ. It's never too late--whether it's 10am, 12pm, 3pm or 6am on Tuesday. Pick up wherever you are. Take up your cross and follow him.