Deanna and I had a wonderfully peaceful worship experience last night on Maundy Thursday. Since we weren't having Holy Week services at Providence this year as that ministry winds down, we visited with another congregation in our Presbytery. It was a welcome change not to have to be in charge. Instead of worrying about whether I remembered whether we were saying of singing the "Holy, holy, holy..." part of the Prayer of Thanksgiving at the Table or whether I did the epiclesis at the right time, I could sit and let the liturgy wash over me and do the work it was designed to do. It did. Just before we were invited to the Table, the choir sang "In Remembrance" from CELEBRATE LIFE. I know. Everyone has sung it to death over the years, but it is still a wonderful way to prepare for the Sacrament. As I sat and listened, I remembered all the flap that music like CELEBRATE LIFE and SUPERSTAR, and all the others from that era had caused. People I remember from church life then (but who will remain nameless because some of them are still around) pitched more than one fit when that music became popular among young people in the '60's and '70's. Some of them were the same ones who had pitched other fits when the GOOD NEWS BIBLE appeared a few years earlier. Something about stick figure illustrations and the language of common speech just didn't sit right with some of those folks who thought they were protecting God from all of us. As I sat and listened to the choir sing, I remembered all that conflict from forty years ago, and it all seems so tame now. I tried to remember when that's all we had to worry about: people, young and otherwise, who were so hungry to hear the Gospel that they found ways to hear it in their own contexts. I still have a GOOD NEWS BIBLE somewhere, but I don't read it in the pulpit or even in my own study very often. I still have a score for CELEBRATE LIFE, but last night is the first time I remember hearing any of it sung in a long time. I think I have an old VHS tape of SUPERSTAR SOMEWHERE, but nothing to play it on anymore. What I remember, though, is how all those things and others spoke to so many and kept us faithful when we could easily have wandered off where others went. All that conflict seems so tame in comparison to the issues that divide us these days. It's not just old against young anymore. It seems to be everybody against everybody else. I'd like to think that some of the people we're all knotted up about these days still desperately want to hear some Good News and will continue to state their case until we let them. But I've known too many who have given up on hearing much from us at all, deciding that we're much more concerned with our own internal squabbles than we'll ever be about their well-being.
On this Good Friday afternoon and tomorrow when there is time for even God to be quiet for a while, I'm remembering. "In remembrance of me, eat this bread. In remembrance of me, drink this wine. In remembrance of me, pray for the time when God's own will is done....In remembrance of me, search for truth. In remembrance of me, always love."
What people tried to dismiss as a bunch of youth ministry stuff sounds like a call to action after all these years. Wonder when we'll ever listen?