Dear Members and Friends of the Meriden Congregational Church,
Grace and Peace to one and all as we journey together through this holiest of weeks for both Jews and Christians! Susan and I are so grateful to be sharing this faith community with each of you, and we pray that through remembering together the liberation story of Passover, and the resurrection affirmation of Easter, we may each find our hearts opened anew to all the places of suffering and pain within ourselves and throughout our world, trusting that such compassion is the very nature of God’s heart. Likewise mindful of the extent to which Pharoah’s heart seems especially hard these days toward those deemed worth less by those deluded into thinking they are worth more, we pray not only for all hearts to be softened by that of God within us all, but also for our voices and commitment to be strengthened on behalf of those most vulnerable among us, in solidarity with the One executed by the principalities and powers because of his passionate insistence upon the inherent worth and dignity of all humanity, rejoicing that through and beyond even the worst that can befall us in this crucifixion/Good Friday world, there sounds forth the resurrection/Easter song that God’s wondrous love and endless life seeks ever always to rise yet again within us!
Susan and I were have been deeply gratified by all the ways in which so many of us have actively embraced the prophetic nature of our faith through advocating and praying for humanity and compassion to prevail with regard to how we as a state and nation will allocate our resources so as to ensure the kind of distributive justice wherein there is enough for all which we learned throughout our Lenten sermon series to be at the core of the Prayer Jesus taught us. And as we reflect this week upon the Christian reference to Jesus as our Passover, it occurs to us that this does not mean that to be Christian is somehow to be immune to the suffering and sorrow of our world. Nor is the sacrifice of Jesus about somehow shielding us from the wrath of God. Instead, we believe the witness of what is also called the Passion of Jesus throughout this last week of his earthly life to be God’s way of reminding us that we are so deeply loved that God will never leave us alone and will not allow anything or anyone on earth, nor even death itself, ever to separate us from the love in which we live and move and have our being. If Jesus, then, is our Passover by virtue of his passionate love for us, then how much more are we called to be Passover People for each other, intentionally praying for and aligning ourselves with anyone subject to the heartless judgment of others?! Theology Professor Marie Smith once said that “on Good Friday, the Resurrected One was crucified.” How much more then are we called to be Resurrection Revolutionaries intent upon overturning and transforming all forms of crucifixion still being done to any of God’s people!?
Musings such as these have been rumbling around with us this week, both as we anticipate the various ways that we as a faith community liturgically remember and celebrate our resurrection faith that crucifixion is never God’s final word in our lives, all within the context of God’s Passover commitment to liberation and new life for all. By way of helping these opportunities to be foremost in our hearts and minds, we list below our Holy Week schedule, eagerly hoping to share any or all of these holy moments with any of you who may be able to join us. On this Holy/Maundy Thursday, (the word Maundy means commandment, reminiscent of Jesus’ new commandment that we love each other as Jesus loved us), when those of us able to gather for our service this evening will share together in Jesus’ Last Supper / Passover meal with his friends and followers, likewise recalling the final hours of Jesus’ earthly life among us, during which he experienced betrayal, abandonment, rejection, and death as he steadfastly expressed his conviction that in God’s heart, no one is expendable, for all are infinitely cherished, may we likewise be mindful of the deliberations occurring this very day within our state senate. For this is the day when the Senate Finance Committee will be hearing from concerned and frightened service providers and fellow residents of our state a poignant plea to reverse at least some if not all of the draconian funding reductions sadly endorsed by our House of Representatives last month. The vote is yet to come, but let us pray both for those testifying that they may find the courage and strength to articulate from their hearts the moral and human consequences of budget choices under consideration, and for those hearing these testimonies, that their hearts may be softenened and touched by the stories they will hear, and that their minds may be granted the wisdom and vision to realize that budgets are moral documents, so that adequately ensuring the dignity and well being of all may be uppermost in the recommendations they make.
Susan and I look forward to praying with you, either at any or all of the various services listed below, or in spirit wherever you may be this evening and on through the joy of Easter morning!
Thursday, 21 April at 7:30 PM – Maundy Thursday Service
A moving remembrance of Jesus’ last supper, betrayal, crucifixion, and burial
Friday, 22 April – Good Friday
Our “Watch With Me” Vigil, which begins following our Tenebrae Service on Maundy Thursday, continues until 3:00 PM on Good Friday, traditionally thought to be the time when Jesus died.
Sign up, either individually or in pairs/groups to spend an hour or more praying, meditating, reflecting in our church sanctuary, any time between 9:00 PM Thursday evening and 3:00 PM Friday afternoon.
Once again this year we are also invited to travel with our Co-Pastors over to Weston Priory to participate in their observance of Good Friday with a service beginning at 4:45 PM. We will gather here at our church at 3:00 PM so that we can car pool together, and then share a meal together following the Good Friday Liturgy.
Sunday, 24 April – Happy Easter
(Please note that these times are earlier than published in our April Newsletter)
5:30 – Sunrise Communion Service
6:15 – Easter Breakfast
10:00 – Intergenerational Worship
Wishing everyone Passover/Easter blessings and spring-time renewal.