Eight years ago tonight i was in my dorm room at DePaul talking to my mom on the phone, having just attended my first ever Good Friday service. At Fourth Presbyterian Church the evening of Good Friday is a service in which the choir presents a choral service...that year it was the Poulenc Stabat Mater. I had gone to fulfill a concert attendance requirement and because I'd been invited by friends. My then-boyfriend also invited me to Easter, but I had so far refused. On the phone, my mom said "I just came from church too!"--she had been to hear a friend sing in the choir. When I told her about my Easter dilemma, she said words I never expected to hear: "You should go. Relationships are about compromise." I don't think she knew what she was getting into.
I went on Easter.
The next week, I went back.
And the week after that.
I went to an Inquirer's class.
I talked extensively with a pastor.
I joined the church (by baptism and profession of faith) on April 25.
It's been a long journey in 8 years....from just going to hyper-involvement in the church through stints in Scotland on to seminary and then to Egypt and now I'm a pastor in the suburbs of my favorite American city. I've had three other boyfriends (counting the current one!) since then. Both my great-grandmothers and my mother, (and all my goldfish) have died since then. I've lived in 7 different apartments/houses since then. I've gained new friends and lost some friends, both through distance and to death. I've gained two cats. My life has changed drastically from clarinet-filled to church-filled, but music is always still around. I'm a "real grownup" now--I've bought a house and a car, I have a job, I pay bills and taxes, I worry about my cats. Eight years ago I just went to a service. Now I lead the service...thinking about microphones and whether I'm tall enough to blow out the 5th candle and taking the few minutes afterward to discuss with the senior pastor which white stole to wear on Easter morning. Eight years ago, I went to church with two friends to hear a "concert." Now I go to church alone and yet in a wonderful community...though a community of church-friends, not what I would call "regular friends." the music is still wonderful. The main difference, the one that makes the day hard? No talking to mom afterward, being surprised and wondering what tricks she's got up her sleeve next, what new thing she has done for a friend, what new boundary that I've always taken for granted she's crossed today. And I miss her.
Sunday morning we'll proclaim the incredible good news that God has triumphed over death. But people still die, and they don't come back. The last prayer/meditation from our service tonight, addressing a Jesus who has breathed his last, says something about those who've gone...something like "tell them that we miss them, they are not forgotten." Well, that's true.
It's also true what Walter Brueggemann says about Christians being a Saturday people. We proclaim this news that death has no sting and no power, except it still does. We wait, in the in-between place, the Saturday place, the place between earth and heaven, the place between our reality and God's kingdom, the place between death and new life.
I hate waiting.
(I also love the Princess Bride...)
So this Good Friday, when it's almost late enough to be Saturday, when I'm getting ready to sleep before tomorrow's Easter Egg Hunt (odd for that waiting, that Holy Quiet Saturday), this is what I am thinking about....that Good Friday 8 years ago, when things were different, and how the journey has changed me and how the world has changed and where the journey might be taking me next.