the letter of the law

I failed to communicate again.

‘We leave in silence’ is not a sufficient rubric for Maundy Thursday. It simply led to everyone stopping outside the church door to chat after the morning service.

Next year — ‘we disperse without speaking’ perhaps?

Or — ‘You are a frightened disciple. Flee.’

10 thoughts on “the letter of the law

  1. I’ve been pondering on this sort of theme. Do you think the disciples avoided each other and hid until after the resurrection? I’ve always been a bit dubious about Good Friday evening church – if the disciples did disperse and hide, then it seems a bit odd for us to be gathering. But I’ve begun to wonder if they went creeping round to each other’s houses and gathered secretly and quietly to try to come to terms with all that had happened. I think it’s what I might try to do in their position – they had spent a fairly momentus time together and I imagine they were quite a strong group. If they did gather then maybe a chat outside the church is fairly authentic, and my fears about Good Friday evening church are unjustified.

  2. I suspect they did all of the above, and it’s a matter of timing.

    Flee first.

    quietly find each other to debrief later.

    But it’s also a question of what the liturgy asks of us. We come close to the disciple’s path, but are not in exactly the same place, because we know what is coming.

    I think the silence after church — not speaking– is as much about marking sacred time as anything. Making it quite clear that normal life is suspended, as we move through these Holy Days. And it’s also about making space for each other. Allowing those who want to be in silence to remain so, even if we ourselves (especially if we are selves) must quickly re-engage with the world of sound and speech and ‘normality’.

  3. I suppose having someone run into the meeting space with a running chainsaw, and frightening everybody out the doors and not stopping till they got home might be overdoing it a bit?

    But I should talk. In a few hours begins our service and I suspect people will chat anyway.

  4. The last option ‘Frightened disciple, now, flee!’ sounds more like it.

    The trouble with anybody speaking is that the spoken-to then feels bound to respond. Then you have a conversation, which encourages others.

    Rubric for Friday at St Paul’s: ‘At the end of this prayer, we will keep silence, and then leave the church as we would leave the cross, silent, and pondering how we may bring our lives into the shape which would be pleasing to our Father, and to Him who died. ‘

    It that fails, it WILL BE the chain saw and that for real.

  5. We (clergy and servers) fled (James said it was very disconcerting to watch Episcopalians running). It seemed to get the message across.

  6. Thank you Kimberly! Before the service last night I told the band of disciples gathered at St Mark’s about what you posted. I didn’t actually tell them to flee, but it served as a reminder for them and for the first time in the nine years I have been here they all left quietly, not a murmur was heard. Far more effect than the rubric asking them to leave quietly and respect those wishing to stay in silent prayer.

  7. Christina, I think your first instinct is correct. How could they have looked each other in the eye when they knew they had all abandoned their Lord in his hour of need. The power of the resurrection experience consists in, among other things, knowing themselves forgiven, being able to forgive each other, and, crucially, forgive themselves, and start again in renewed and strengthened fellowship.

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