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Further thoughts on a Good Friday Wake

(If you haven’t read it before, you might want to start by reading my previous post on a Good Friday Wake, to get an idea of what I’m talking about in this post.)

All liturgy is local. It happens in a particular place, a particular context, and with a particular set of people. It is sometimes difficult to know who those people will be, what they will bring, what they will expect.

This is what I’ve been pondering while thinking how to better arrange a Good Friday Wake here at the EDS campus. Here’s what is likely: many, if not all, of the people who come will be seminarians, or connected with seminarians. Many of them will be very deeply involved in Holy Week liturgies in churches scattered around the area. They will not, for the most part, be sharing a common experience of Holy Week. Last year, a few who came expressed some gratitude at being given a chance to pause and reflect in the middle of their intense involvement in Holy Week events at their own churches.

So here’s what I’m thinking about changing. We’re looking into other space on campus that we might be able to use. There were nice things about having it in our living room last year, but the space was too small to allow people to move much. The hot cross buns and tea will stay, partly because i like making them, but more because I think it’s important to feed people, and because it gives them something to do and hold while contemplating, leaving them just a little less exposed.

I think we will move away from asking people to share their stories and memories; that worked very well in a fairly closely knit mission church going through Holy Week together, but I think it requires a level of trust and intimacy that can’t be assumed in this context.

Since most of those who come will likely be students, I’d like to find a way to invite them to bring a short reading or poem, something meaningful to them as they think about Jesus’ death, but perhaps somewhat less intimately personal.

Aside from that, I’m trying to find a simple sung refrain that we can use. So far we’re considering a TaizĂ© song, “Stay with me/ wait here with me/ watch and pray.” Miranda also found this troparion from the Orthodox Good Friday Vespers:

The Noble Joseph took down Your most pure body from the cross and, anointing it with fragrant spices, he wrapped it in a clean linen and put it in a new tomb.

Which is lovely, but perhaps a little wordy to learn for people coming in and out, and I’m not sure where to come up with a musical setting for it.

I know I promised a script over a week ago, but this one is slow coming, partly because it’s taking my thoughts a while to take shape, and partly because it’s been hard to find any time to dedicate to the task. Soon, I hope.

Update (3/16/2008): A draft script is now available. This will continue to change over the next several days, but I wanted to share what I’m working with right now. Feedback is certainly appreciated.

{ 7 } Comments

  1. Pamela Smith | March 12, 2008 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    “Within our darkest night”? – John Bell, I think, and a haunting melody.
    Within our darkest night, you kindle a fire that never goes away.

    What I like about the Wake – from your descriptions of it – is its unstructuredness. PS/HW/Easter is wrapped in structure in our tradition.

  2. Phil | March 13, 2008 at 10:41 pm | Permalink

    Hmm, I guess I hadn’t thought of “Within our darkest night” (TaizĂ©, i think, not John Bell) because we used it during kindling of new fire at the Easter Vigil, but perhaps that would make for a nice continuity?

    Yes, the unstructuredness was also part of the idea, thanks for the reminder. A somewhat more open space–physically and emotionally–to interact with the story. I think that’s part of way the tea and buns are important–they help unstructure a little.

  3. Pamela Smith | March 14, 2008 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

    So where have you decided to do this?

  4. Phil | March 14, 2008 at 11:57 pm | Permalink

    We’re going to do it not in our living room, if we can find a campus space. We’re still waiting to hear on that–should know something by Monday.

  5. Pamela Smith | March 17, 2008 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    After having read the script -
    [http://doingpublicwork.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/2008_good_friday_wake_script.pdf]
    - I’m enjoying thinking about the very different liturgical spirituality present in this service – something like what the emergent church people call “Open Source Liturgy” yet still distinctively Anglican. I’m glad to know that that combination can be accomplished – up to now, I have been finding the Open Source Liturgy concept pretty unsettling.

    Having said that, Phil, you lost me at the incense…
    I’m never going to be a Real Episcopalian.

  6. Phil | March 17, 2008 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    I’m curious about what seems distinctively Anglican to you. I’m not sure I see it. Not that I wouldn’t be happy to have it there.

    The incense is entirely optional. I don’t want very much, just a tiny bit. And that’s assuming that I can find the necessary accoutrements on short notice, and that it won’t irritate smoke detectors.

    I’d not heard the exact phrase “Open Source Liturgy” before, though I’ve been trying to follow some of the emergent church discussion about liturgy. I remain uncertain about many aspects of emergent liturgical practice, but I feel like I should give it a fairer chance.

  7. Pamela Smith | March 18, 2008 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    What seems distinctively Anglican in your Good Friday wake – (1) The presence of a distinct liturgical arc, even in this open and participant-created experience.
    (2) What Allchin calls “the living presence of the past” – in constructing a new structure, you have referred to / reformulated / re-used pieces of the traditional structure,
    (3) with confidence that you are entitled and empowered to do so.

    I speak here as someone who – during the early Nixon years – once led a chapel service at Mount Holyoke that involved pinning prayers onto an armchair I had hauled out of the trash. I would characterize this experience as not being in constructive dialogue with the past and not having the presence of a liturgical arc.

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