This year was the first in sixteen that I did not find myself in church for Holy Week. Yes, I am on sabbatical for eight more weeks, but I decided to do something different. I went about the normal business of the day and observed people, talked to them when I could, prayed for them and look for Christ in every face, engaged in lectio divina. By Thursday of this week, I discovered that Christ wanted me to be still this year. There are more years before me, many more Maundy Thursdays to wash feet and strip the Sanctuary, many more Great Vigils where I can carry the lit Paschal Candle into a dark church and sing, “The Light of Christ!” and later, offer the deacon’s prayer for all of creation, The Exsultet. There are more Easter Days when I can sing ‘Hail Thee Festival Day!” and proclaim the Gospel of the Resurrection.
Yes, this was a year when Christ said, “Be still!”
Christ said, “Listen! What do you hear?”
So many times I’ve wanted to walk in Christ’s footsteps during Holy Week, and experience that historic event that gave life to us all, and so very many times I failed.
Does Christ want me to give up my life for him? Not in the sense that most people would think of giving up life – the physical life, but dying to self. Making the core of my being the spark of life that is God, the breath of life that is the Spirit and the love that gives us life that is Christ.
The saints were every day people who led uneventful lives until that spark was ignited in them. They were people like you and me. It is what they discovered in the stillness when Christ asked them to be still that made them extraordinary. It is what they did to proclaim the Gospel and live it. It was reading past John 3:16, the Christmas Story, the letters of Paul, and getting to the very core of Christ’s ministry and message: “I have loved you, now you must love each other. Every time someone asks for a cup of water or a loaf of bread, I am asking for these things from you. Every time you ask someone how they’re doing, you’re asking how my day went. Every time you pray for a friend, a loved one, that guy on the bus who just found out he has cancer, I join in those prayers and even though you may not think it, I do hear them. How you respond when that prayer is answered is up to you.”
Do you hear that in the stillness, the still, quiet voice?
I believe that at last, I am.