April 14: Retrospectives

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!  Now we pivot from the somber Lenten season and intense Holy Week, what Egeria called the Great Week, to the Great 50 Days of Easter I will call simply Eastertide.  I pray fervently that we also pivot from the darkness of COVID-19 to the dawning light of a springtime we can soon enjoy standing side by side.  I sincerely appreciate all the texts, emails and phone messages thanking me for these reflections.  I receive each one with enormous gratitude and joy, hoping you might choose to stay with me here as we move together into this Eastertide.  But just before we get there….some moments and messages you may have missed in the past few days.

Since I don’t get out much liturgically speaking, one of the unexpected blessings of this time is viewing sermons and worship from a variety of locations and colleagues whose perspectives I value.  Our retired Bishop of Colorado Rob O’Neill’s profound Good Friday sermon (beginning at 6:45 minutes in) is a treasure which I highly recommend even now!  The courageous Good Friday sermon by the Washington National Cathedral’s Vicar Corsello is also a treasure in her searching honesty naming our current time.  Our Episcopal Church in Colorado’s Easter Vigil video is a gold mine!  From the wonderfully dramatic Deliverance at the Red Sea reading (beginning at 11:45) to Bishop Kym’s excellent message (beginning at 30:10) to my good friend Mary Kate and her dear children’s Easter greeting (precisely at 49:07) and ending with the diaconal dismissal involving impeccable diaconal timing (at 53:44), it was amazing!  And speaking of amazing, please, please do me the favor of worshipping with our wonderful youth during our own ECOT Easter Vigil this week; due to technical difficulties we could not post this worship, my favorite of the entire year, until Easter morning.  Mother Emily, our Youth Coordinator Rebecca Smith and our students did amazing work to produce this effort, and they deserve our attention this week.  Thank you!

Finally, back to the Washington National Cathedral for Easter Day.  Our current Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael Curry, is (easily) the best PB preacher in my adult lifetime; his Easter message was profound and comforting.  The actual Easter worship is a long slog but, embedded near the end, are two musical treasures!  The first, totally a surprise, is the very moving Virtual Choir and Orchestra’s The Strife Is O’er beginning at 1:06:38.  I almost fell out of my chair and still cannot watch without bursting into tears; how did they ever coordinate such a thing??!!  The sheer visual panoply of passion, joy and enthusiasm is wonderfully uplifting and no less impactful on subsequent viewings!  The second is the organ postlude, my absolutely all-time favorite organ piece, from Charles-Marie Widor’s Toccata from his Organ Symphony #5 beginning at 1:38:41; it’s a difficult piece to play (just watch the organist’s hands in the final minute!) and sweeps you right out of the church.  I chose this piece to open and close our own ECOT Easter Day worship but YouTube would not upload it due to its strict copyright filter so we had to strip it off the final version.  How wonderful then to hear the National Cathedral taking our own plans for theirs!!

A final look back before we move forwards into resurrection.  Strap in!

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