Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Holy Week: Keeping Watch, Chimes and Sirens, and Craft Crosses with the Crucified Lord Scribbled on Them

I'll share more details in my Weekly Happenings post tomorrow, but our Easter in the city didn't really go as planned. Truth be told, I was really heartbroken not to get to spend it at a church that's just rejuvinated and refreshed me so many times and with people who are the closest thing to family here. BUT I have much to rejoice over. Most specifically, I have a Savior who reigns victorious not only over small infections, but over DEATH itself. 

And, we did have some beautiful moments celebrating Holy Week. In the past, I've tried to rush those hard days and just hurry Easter up. But last week was truly special. 

On Thursday we went to church at midnight to keep watch for an hour. It was interesting and beautiful and unlike anything I've ever done.

Jake was signed up for our hour (different people sign up for different watches to pray for an hour at the church) and so he walked us through everything, explaining that the small room we were in represented Gethsemane and also that it was the room where the columbarium is located and in that way it represents how death is inevitable, but as Christians we need not fear it.

We alternated taking turns reading a section of Psalms (throughout the night the entire book would be read aloud by parishioners and priests) and Graves slept through most of that. He and Peyton and Annie and I were all sitting on a little bench- Graves sort of laid out with his head drooping into Peyton's lap and Annie in my lap, sitting upright but nodding off. It was a beautiful picture of my little family.

After the Psalms, Graves stirred and Jake went to get a cushion from a pew and laid two on the floor for the children to rest on. In that dark room, in that ancient church, I felt like I was in another time. The first century maybe. We began to pray for our church, our persecuted brothers, our government, and other things. Graves fully awoke and both the children prayed too. They did so well and seemed to understand, on some level, how solemn the occasion was.

Finally, Graves did get a little antsy and Peyton laid down right beside him on the cold hard floor. Another picture I wanted to memorize to hold forever. We prayed generally and I thanked the Lord for all the precious years we've celebrated with sweet Annie and all the ways he's used her in our lives. Then we prayed for each other and that was very powerful.

We left around one and it was one of the most beautiful hours I've spent in the city. One I'll treasure forever.

 I love being part of a church that's unafraid to meet in the middle of the night on important days and to remember in a powerful way and I love bring part of a church that ain't scared to make a place for it's tiniest parishioners when Holy Week makes bedtimes slightly irrelevant.

Graves was feeling bad and Peyton ended up keeping the kids on Friday and I went to the service by myself. 

As the chimes were sounding I heard a loud siren behind me on Park Avenue. A symbolism of Law and Gospel right there and I don't know if I've ever felt it in such deep places. Tears filled my eyes and all I could think is how thankful I was for the first Good Friday. And then I thought how thankful I was for Calvary-Saint George's and the countless ways God had used this body to draw me closer to the foot of the cross- not just today, but this whole past year. Guess that's what happens when your church's "agenda" is preaching Christ and Him crucified.

Saturday and Sunday were, in many ways, ordinary days at home with the children. Peyton worked and I packed some boxes and fixed sandwiches and broke up fights. 

I had these little crosses and for Annie's rest time craft I told her she could decorate one anyway she liked. I was surprised (in the best heart aching way) when I say what, or rather whom, she chose to put on it. 

As we near the end here, I have a lot I feel like I need to write out, but I wanted to share about our special week while the memories were still fresh. I am so thankful this year for the many ways the Lord has provided for us and most of all for his great Love and Grace.

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