hen we started making that often-written-about millennial move to the high church, started calling communion eucharist, started reading weekly collects, started praying the hours (or at least thinking about praying the hours), we knew a few things: We knew we needed more than what we were getting from the Church then. We knew we were tired of being cushioned and entertained. We knew we desired beauty and substance, liturgy and sacrament, history and tradition.
But we didn’t know that the high church would transform our faith or inform our marriage. That worshipping the same way Christians have for two thousand years would draw us nearer to Christ than ever before. That following the rhythms of the Church year would tune our ears to God’s whispering, would create space for the Holy Spirit to dwell richly in us, allowing him to rub away rough patches, to sanctify, to draw things to the light.
It’s Holy Week, and I’m hungry. Easter hasn’t sprung up out of nowhere. It’s being birthed from a long, slow, Holy Lent (just as outside the spotty green on our grass, and tiny flower buds showing their tentative faces, follow a long, painful, dark winter). 40 days of fasting and discipline, of omitted Alleluias, climax this week. And knowing what’s ahead, I’m hungry. Ready to hear the story, sensitive and tuned-in. A little weepy (teary in my car as I hear audio of the Boston marathon bombing or the story of hundreds missing in a Korean shipwreck).
Our little church will work hard this week. We’ll gather more often than usual, telling each other story of that week, of how he entered, ate, spoke, blessed, bled, lay, and rose. On Sunday, we waved our palms and spoke Hosannas. At Thursday’s dramatic service, we’ll pour cold water on each other’s feet and remember that first New Covenant Passover. On dark, Good Friday, we’ll gather in mourning to walk through the stations of the cross, each one crafted by a different artist in our community. Vulnerable and brave, we’ll think a lot about death, and we’ll wait while he lie in the grave. All in preparation for Sunday.
We need this week. Need it to make Easter Easter. I’ve been thinking back on past Holy Weeks all through Lent, thinking about what makes them Holy. And feeling a deep hunger to walk through these traditions with my community, to prepare our hearts for the glory of the resurrection. To face death together, because we know the hope of Christ in us.
Observing the Church year transforms us. It creates hunger, it guides our spirits, it draws us into the rhythm of the God’s people. After several years of following the calendar, I’m aware of the sanctifying effects of it. Not just in my “spiritual life,” but in all life. In how I hear radio stories and my dietary patterns and my emotional stability.
This year, it’s gone like this: It’s Advent, and I’m longing. It’s Christmas, and I’m hopeful, joyful. It’s Epiphany, and I’m stunned. It’s ordinary time, and frankly I’m a little bored. It’s Lent, and I’m sad, tired. It’s Holy Week, and I’m hungry.