(This is the second post in my series of Holy Week devotions.)
This morning, like I have for the past two Holy Tuesdays, I attended the synod’s Chrism Mass. The Mass of the Chrism (traditionally held on Maundy Thursday morning–but we’re all super busy then), is a service in which the bishop blesses the oil which will be used at churches throughout the synod.
We also offer a time to renew our vows to ministry–pastors, deacons, assisting ministers, and the bishop all reaffirm their calls and ask for God’s help in carrying them out.
This service takes a while–between the affirmation of vows, blessing the oil, anointing, communion, and everything else, it usually lasts almost two hours. Add to that the commute and the lunch afterwards, and it becomes tempting to pass on the Chrism mass and simply pick up some olive oil yourself. After all, it’s Holy Week, and you could really use the better part of the day to get things done.
But sometimes I think that’s why this service is scheduled during Holy Week. To remind us, even during our busiest seasons, to take time for rest and renewal. To remind us that everything does not rest upon our shoulders.
Bishop Burkat’s sermon focused on this. In a season of the church, in a time in the world, when we can feel as if we are rushing from one thing to the next, never catching our breath: we must stop and breathe, for the breath is the very gift of God. In the act of creation, God breathed God’s spirit into human beings, to give them life. That same breath, and that same Spirit continue to sustain us to this day.
We must take time to attend to breathing. To catch our breath. The bishop used the analogy of how musicians use “staggered breathing” in order to hold a particularly long note in a piece. The flute section, for instance, takes turns breathing, so that the overall note can be sustained.
When we feel out of breath and world-weary, we must remember that we are not alone. We are part of families, part of churches, part of communities, who can sustain what must be sustained in order for us to stop and breath. But, the bishop reminded us, when we are ready, we need to come back and play again, for there are others waiting for their chance to stop and rest.
It was a very fitting sermon to give to a bunch of church professionals during Holy Week–but it is important for all of us to remember: take time to breathe and pause in the midst of God’s spirit. Remember that not everything depends upon you; you are part of a much larger community. Take time to be renewed, for there is still much to be done–Together.
Prayer for Tuesday of Holy Week (ELW): Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you Grant that our love may not grow cold in your service, and that we may not fail or deny you in the time of trial, for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.