Sunday, March 16, 2008

Music and Mercy

Tissues are a must for me on Easter morning. The combination of an early rising, the glorious music, and the resurrection message--better felt than explained--leaves me in tears every time. Palm Sunday can be hit or miss, though, and I don't have many memories of being moved to tears once we get past the palm-waving processional. Today was a clear exception, and I was sniffing throughout--no tissues!

Sure enough, the weepy eyes began as our dear children walked down the aisle, most (including my own two) in absolute bewilderment, and others like dear L. from our Sunday School class. She skipped and waved her palm high above her head, shouting "HOSANNA! HOSANNA!" as the first bars of "All Glory, Laud and Honor" piped loudly from the organ. Children will bring me to tears every time. It is difficult for me to depict the power of the remainder of the service--how the choir's rendition of "Ride on, King Jesus" left such a ring in the air, the entire congregation seemed to pause, breathless; how a parishioner played a Bruebeck jazz piece that left me utterly convinced that jazz is the only form of music that can capture the dissonance of Holy Week--the praise, the despair, the longing, the possibility of resurrection. And then there was the message--part spoken sermon, with our minister extolling us to embrace the passion of the Sunday even as we take part in the celebration; part video set to strikingly perfect music. As he introduced the video, created by our ministerial team and some younger members of our congregation, Tom remarked that the ambivalence of this day--the paradox of Palm Sunday--cannot be fully captured in prose....and when words fail us, we must turn to artists. Image after image cascaded across the screen--of the cosmos, the beauty of nature, the absolute destruction of war and poverty, the hope of human connection to each other and all of creation, our continual crucifixion of our natural environment and our neighbors, and symbols of God's mercy. The music was ideal, if a bit unusual--Metallica's "Unforgiven" played in a moving strings version by Apocalyptica. The sounds washed over me as the sorrow of our brokenness--my brokenness--was relieved only by an equal measure of joy in Jesus' unmatched act of mercy. The service was crafted by human hands, but woven together by the Spirit of God....merciful, loving God.

Though I grew up with an eye toward justice, as I age, I long only for music and mercy....

1 comment:

Sue said...

I was never one to shed tears in church (more often due to a sense of "just shine the spotlight on me, why dontcha!"), but lately -- especially during and after what we went through at our last church -- I can hardly stop them from flowing. Part of it, I think, is a "sign" of a growing relationship ... at least for me. My relationship and connection with Jesus has changed -- in a good way. It has taken a lot of pain to get there ... but when I think about the pain He endured for me, well -- it sure makes a difference, doesn't it? Beautiful post -- thank you for writing about this.