During a nimble browse through Blogdom yesterday, I picked up on a sentence typed by the excellent Labradoodle-loving Curate's Wife. She pondered, in passing, how odd all this holy Week stuff must be for kids, and how they might cope with the panoply of perpetuated praise.
I am, as you may have gathered, a liturgical kinda guy. I love the 'doing' of liturgy. There are likely to be many explanations for that, and why we all fall into ecclesial pigeon-holes when it comes to such stuff; but for me, it is all bound up in good liturgy. It might be to do with a slightly extrovert nature, a pragmatic style of learning, a tendency to see the world in image and not, say, in words or numbers. It will have a little to do with the 'nurture' argument too - though perhaps less, because I found my own way to liturgy.
Another thing that is also true to say, is that liturgically minded Christians tend to 'do' Holy Week and the Triduum well. This week is, in many ways, a show-piece of living liturgy. And I can also say with absolute certainty that it was that aspect of worship that hooked me into faith. Most kids who have ever been near a church will be familiar with Palm Crosses, and in my experience, a good many will know what they represent. For me the most chilling, haunting, beautiful, stunning, affective liturgical moment is the desecration of the church after the catastrophic key-change in the Maundy Thursday Eucharist. We enter the church in white, we leave the church is disarray into a silence of vigil-prayer. We rip every thing beautiful from the place, leaving the altar naked, defiled. With the words of either Psalm 31 or 22 being intoned or read-gently while this stripping takes place, there is no moment in church life that more connects me with the agony of the Passion. And it was so for me as a child. Wide-eyed, dumbfounded, awe-struck - in every sense, a believer.
I can illustrate my faith journey and maturation not in encounters with people, but in encounters with God through beautiful liturgy. I do not speak of professional-ceremonial though - liturgy and ceremonial, while very closely related, are not at all the same. Beautiful liturgy can happen in the midst of 250 kids all making noise together. The joy of liturgy is that it is, by definition, hands-on. Being caused to process, to wave palm-crosses, sit in drowsy vigil in the Garden of Repose, tear a church apart - all of things demand an action, a committed involvement.
In this post, I also disclose my plans for the rest of Holy Week. As a personal devotion, and for use to you if you want it, I shall blog the Stations of The Cross all week. There are a few of them, so it will mean three or four posts a day. They are my prayers and thoughts - I offer them humbly, and ask that you do what you will with them.