Just went to a very moving, powerful Good Friday service at Ascension & St. Agnes on Mass. Avenue in Washington, D.C. Last night at Truro we had a Maundy Thursday Eucharist that also included an instructed Seder led by Stephen Katz of Jews for Jesus. It was interesting to compare the two events, last night's Seder at Truro with the service I just went to at Ascension & St. Agnes. One of the things that struck me was how similar the vestments Stephen wore last night compared to what Fr. Lane and Fr. Sam wore at Ascension - they were so similar in design it was hard not to notice seeing them so close to each other. We evangelicals talk about wanting to get back to the first century of the faith, but do we always understand what that might actually mean when it comes to worship?
Though I am an evangelical - in theology and polity - I did some thinking as I participated in the service at Ascension and that right there was a clue of what I find so intriguing about a service at Ascension. It's theatre, but it's Spirit-filled theatre. It can be life-transforming theatre if it is raised from ritual to reality. And if the drama that is being played out is allowed to enter not just one's mind, but one's spirit, one's life - one's very soul - it has the power to transform. Shakespeare believed that and that's what gives his plays power. When this kind of theatre is filled with Jesus and His Spirit, it is powerful. It's like finding the Afikoman.
Both the Seder and Ascension's service were theatre, an acting out of events that happened long ago that we've been instructed not to forget. To be able to participate in the event through drama, it seems to me it opens us up to the power of mystery and what we mean by the incarnation. What I loved about both events though is that they both were so centered on Jesus, on Him. Not the idea of Him or the Inner Cosmic Christ that is the All in All, or that prophet teacher guy who pointed the way - but the one who is The Way, Jesus.
He's such a problem, even now.
LATER: Sang in the Truro Choir this evening Rutter's Requiem for Truro's evening Good Friday service - another kind of theatre. With the instruments it all just blew me away. What a privilege. To God be the glory!