With Palm and Passion Sunday peering over the horizon, this morning it struck me what a “happy” Lent this has been. And while in some way that pleases me, I found myself wondering as the offering was happening if that should have been the case. So lost in the thought was I that I forgot to stand up for the beginning of the doxology.
In past year’s I have spent time picking dour hymns that try to catch some of the anguish that we may feel bereft of God. Prayers have focused on dependence on God, and the searching we make in our wilderness moments.
Some of those themes have been present in the prayers and the themes, but for some reason the spirit of worship has seemed up beat and of swift tempo. And I wonder why?
Looking again at the passages from Matthew and John we’ve read through encountering the Lectionary, this year has not seemed as dour as in the past. Even this morning’s reading from Ezekiel, and the lack of hope without God, brought humour and wonder at the potential of God within.
But perhaps it is not just the readings and the hymns that have set the mood.
A few weeks ago the congregation had their first experience of a Stewardship event. There was some fear and trepidation about what it would mean and what would happen, and yet people came and had a good night. Old friends shared news, new friendships were made, some of the congregation showed themselves in a new light. Since the event, opening the vestry door to listen to the noise of the congregation before worship has been full of the sound of news being exchanged and cares being shared.
The following week there was a Presbytery event that brought together people from across the area. Members of congregations got to know each others’ stories and hopefully found new respect for some of the things that happen in other congregations in the name of our church. It was a lively, fun filled day of walking, procession and ceremony, worship and story, and people threw themselves into all that was happening. There were stories of people meeting who had not seen each other since school, and who knows we’ve maybe managed to convince a couple of congregations that they too should be at Heart and Soul in May.
However is the mood of Lent also set for each of us by where we are in our lives?
I have always loved my role as a parish minister. The variety of each day appeals as it moves from time to study, to conversation, to practical encounters. In every place I have been I could say I was happy.
But am I happier now? Is there something different about this place and this time?