While all of you have been sleeping and waking, working and playing, eating and drinking, fighting and loving - a process has been taking place that few people ever see. It is a thing that takes place in deepest darkest secret, emerging complete like a mysterious creation from another world.
Well, sort of.
Today I have been mostly building services - a sort of Liturgy Construction Site where the framework of our worship has taken form.
And it is the most fun in the world, let me tell you (unless you happen to be my Sacristan [and he reads this] in which case it is a source of much concern).
With all services and liturgies, you could open up a book, start at the beginning and get to the end, doing as directed in a blind way until it becomes just another register entry. Alternatively, you can build a living thing, that has shades of light and dark, periods of noise and silence, spells of great pathos and emotion. And so it is that I have been putting together the big services that regale the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord. I have completed Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday, and rather than having formed four distinct liturgies, have crafted one liturgy in four movements.
Fashioning liturgy is a wonderful thing, and this is the first year I have done it on this scale (for, perhaps, obvious reasons). Until now, I have picked up the book or Order of Service and done what is said. This process gives a depth to that which I finding incredibly helpful. It's in little choreographic moments that so much can be achieved in these services that we all know and love (if we know and love them) - for example, matching the three points where the Cross on Good Friday enters the church to those where the Paschal Candle enters a day later. Another is the use of the Pangue Lingua and its tune - once on Maundy Thursday, and again in echo at the time of the Veneration on Good Friday. The use of bells and their discontinuation - all these things, small and apparently accidental, give so much flavour, so much more meaning.
Finally, I get liturgy. It is orchestral. It isn't linear as it sometimes appears or is delivered, but a beautiful movement of events that rotate, rise and fall. Needless to say, this Easter will now mean even more to me than I ever thought it could - because I have been granted a rare opportunity to shape worship (not as frequent an event in the life of a Vicar as you might imagine)