Wednesday, March 31, 2010

It's okay to FEEL and EXPERIENCE . . .

emotional highs and lows during the Sacred Services of these next few days.  Liturgical Lutherans (are there any other kind?) are often accused by those who go out of their way to create a weekly "worship experience" as being anti-feeling and anti-emotional in worship.  That's never the case, by the way.  The Divine Liturgy is always a moving experience when one truly understands what is taking place, namely that our Lord is Present in our midst to hear our confession of sin, absolve us, feed us with Word and Sacrament, and bless us as we depart His Holy House.  It is anything but boring and rote, as opponents of the liturgy claim.  So, don't ever be afraid to feel and experience the Holy Encounter you have with your Lord during Divine Service.  But, the feelings and emotions we experience during the Sacred Services of this Most Holy Week are heightened, and rightly so.  In fact, the liturgy and hymnody in the immediate days ahead purposely invites and invokes certain emotional responses from us more than at any other time of the Church Year.

The conclusion of the Holy (Maundy) Thursday Mass, as the altar is stripped and the eerie music is played in the background while Psalm 22 is being reverently read (or chanted, in some places) cannot help but evoke emotion.  The symbolism is powerful and moving - it gets me every time!  And Good Friday, both the Chief Service (at Noon, here) and Tenebrae (in the evening, here), with the seven words of Christ, the procession of the Sacred Cross, the Reproaches, the reading of St. John's Passion account to the gradual darkening of the church, and the Strepitus (loud sound), at which the church goes completely dark, cannot help but evoke emotion.  Powerful symbolism - it, too, gets me every time!  And then comes the joy of the Easter Vigil and the Festival of our Lord's Resurrection, with the beautiful decor, the smell of the lilies, the organ and the choir belting out the beautiful and celebratory Easter hymns - the church lets her hair down and celebrates like at no other time during the year - yeah, that gets me every time, too!

There are times in the days ahead to feel and experience the almost unbelievable beauty and awesome depth of all that our Lord did to save us wretched sinners and open to us the way to everlasting life.  From somber and meditative to joyous and celebratory - embrace it all, my friends.  Oh yes, it's okay to feel and experience the emotional lows and highs of these Sacred Days.  I pray that you will!        

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