Wednesday Word: Season of Change

Mark and I meet every Tuesday afternoon to discuss and plan Sunday services. In some ways this is not a hard thing to do because our liturgy is prescribed by the rubrics of the Prayer Book. But there are still hymns to select, optional readings to consider, and movements to plan for.

As we (hopefully) begin to come out of the COVID pandemic, and as restrictions begin to ease, Mark and I have a variety of things to consider in preparing for the service. For big services – Christmas, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, All Saints' – we pull last year's bulletin to see what we did and if there are any changes we need to make.

Yesterday he came into my office with last year's bulletins so we could look at Palm Sunday. The problem here is that this year will not look like the COVID-infested service of last year. Things are different. We are on the hopeful cusp that things will also be more open. In trying to plan for a more open service this year, we could not use last year's COVID-driven bulletin. So we asked Melonie to print the bulletin from 2019.

As he and I looked at that bulletin we came to realize that Palm Sunday 2019 happened in Year C. Palm Sunday 2022 will take place in Year C. Our “normal” Palm Sundays were interrupted by three years of some very abnormal Palm Sundays. It was hard to comprehend that it had been that long. There was also some sense of comfort as we knew we could get back to doing what we did best without having to be innovative or protective.

Hopefully we are beginning to come out of the grip of COVID. We have spent three years wandering in that wilderness looking to be nourished while also looking to remain the people we once were.

But the reality is that the wilderness changes you. It changed the Israelites from a people of slavery to a people of freedom. It changed Jesus from a carpenter's son to an itinerant preacher who proclaimed the nearness of the kingdom of God. It has changed us. We may not know to what we have been changed, but none of use have come out of the pandemic unchanged.

The Palm Sunday, Holy Week, and Easter Day services will all feel familiar this year. There will be a comfortable feeling that we have returned to life as it was before COVID. But I challenge and warn you to avoid the temptation to return to life as it was. COVID has given us reason to question the necessity of how we do things – not only our liturgy, but things such as pay rates, prescription drug costs, and housing issues. Woe to us if we haven't learned anything from our COVID wilderness and are simply eager to return to how it used to be.

Lent is a 40-day wilderness experience. It is a time that we learn new things about ourselves and about the world around us. It is a time when we are changed. And woe to us if we come through the Lenten wilderness simply eager to return to how it used to be.

May this Lent change you, and may you live into that change as a new creation in the Lord,


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