Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Journey Begins....

Holy Week. Always for me a time of journey with Christ as well as reflection on my own journey. My heart breaks as I focus on the crucifixion...and know that it was MY sins that Jesus died for. The agony, the pain. I think of Mary, and the grief that she experienced as she journeyed with her Son that week. Holy Thursday, Good Friday, somber liturgical celebrations...but not without the hope, just around the corner, of Easter, of resurrection, of overwhelming gratitude and joy.  
As a musician in our parish, I tangibly felt the "emptiness" of our liturgies during Lent. Music is scaled back to only what is necessary. No fancy preludes, no resounding hymns. But silence, reflection, sparseness.
Our parish has chosen, during Lent, to have no music during the Preparation of Gifts or for the Recessional during mass. Last night for Palm Sunday, the entrance hymn was more upbeat, as we celebrated Jesus' entry into Jerusalem all those years ago...only days before He was to be crucified. Even the priest's vestments were not the purple we had been used to during Lent. Bright red is the color for Palm Sunday. Red recalls the work of the Holy Spirit at Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem and His Passion. This Sunday of Lent is different. It begins the holiest week of the liturgical year. The symbolism in Gospel story was rich. So much to think about...and all the while knowing what comes next in the story.
Last night, I was able to play some quiet music during the Preparation of Gifts, as Fr. Tyler Dennis used a thurible, a metal censer suspended from chains, in which incense is burned during worship services. The use of incense during the liturgy calls us to prayer. 
"Let my prayer be counted as incense before thee, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice! "(Psalm 141:2) 
"Listen to me, O you holy sons, and bud like a rose growing by a stream of water; send forth fragrance like frankincense, and put forth blossoms like a lily. Scatter the fragrance, and sing a hymn of praise; bless the Lord for all his works." (Sirach 39: 13-14)
For me, when I'm playing the piano/organ, my entire being is enveloped in prayer. It was a moment of of joy in being able to express through music, my praise to God...after so many weeks of it being very limited.
Anticipation for Easter is building in my soul, my mind, my body. Not just for our Easter celebration on March 27, 2016, but for our OWN Easter as well, that day when we will meet Jesus face to face. That day when we will be reunited with family and friends that have gone before us. It is so real to me. I can physically feel the anticipation! You know that as I play those Easter hymns of resurrection and joy, my musical prayer will be abounding with joy and thanksgiving!