Friday, at 3:15AM, I crawled out of bed, staggered around a bit, got dressed, and went to church.
Episcopalians usually do the whole Lent thing, 40 days (not counting Sundays) of official fasting.
Palm Sunday, the first day of Holy Week. (I didn't attend; I had attended a funeral mass the previous Friday and was at a convention all weekend.)
Monday, not a specific tradition, a contemplative prayer service. (I didn't attend this either.)
Tuesday and Wednesday, nothing special this year.
Maundy Thursday, named from the Mandamus Te, the annual edict from the King or Queen of England to observe a holy Easter and to give to the needy. This service follows the Last Supper and the retreat to the garden at Gesthemane, where the apostles fell asleep and Jesus struggled in prayer with the knowledge that he was about to die a horrible, excruciating, messy, degrading death.
Since Jesus was abandoned by the disciples when he was arrested, the altar, which represents his presence in the church, is stripped bare. An 'altar of repose' is set up in the narthex at the end of the service, and people spend the night praying in shifts.
I showed up at 3:45, with a quick breakfast gleaned from the Taco Bell, and the guard-at-the-door wasn't there. There had been nobody signed up for prayer at 3am, so she went in herself, and then fell asleep. However, there was someone signed up for 4am, so I swapped an hour of prayer time for an hour of guard time, and went in.
It's harder to pray for an hour without a plan. I had forgotten the prayer chain list, and didn't have my rosary (episcopal rosaries are nifty) so after a half hour I got up to walk around. The pamphlets for the Stations of the Cross were there, so I went through them. I'm not going to quote the service here, but these are the stations.
First Station - Jesus is condemned to Death
Second Station - Jesus is made to bear His Cross
Third Station - Jesus falls the first time under His Cross
Fourth Station - Jesus meets His Mother
Fifth Station - Simon the Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross
Sixth Station - Veronica wipes the face of Jesus (I think we have a different station here, not sure.)
Seventh Station - Jesus falls the second time
Eighth Station - Jesus speaks to the daughters of Jerusalem
Ninth Station - Jesus falls the third time
Tenth Station - Jesus is stripped of His garments
Eleventh Station - Jesus is nailed to the Cross
Twelfth Station - Jesus dies on the Cross
Thirteenth Station - Jesus is taken down from the Cross
Fourteenth Station - Jesus is buried in the sepulchre
A great deal of the imagery in the version we use is based in the doctrine that we are supposed to take up the cross ourselves. So, a response to my lament of last week: take up the things that have happened to me as my share in the cross. I knew that, but I wanted to whine, I guess. And another response. Penny went through all this to a much greater degree than I did. Her cross was cancer. I only noticed a handful of them as especially applying, but it did put things into perspective.
Once that was done, I sat down again, and spent a while going through the list: thanksgiving, prayers for the dead (lots of those), prayers for healing, for peace, for the victims of various disasters and war zones, and for deliverance for the world and for blessings of appropriate weather for crops and for water.
Eventually I figured out it was probably an hour, and it had been, so I went out to stand guard for my hour.
The Korean Baptists came in at 5:15am. They do this every day, apparently; they have a prayer service which consists of (taped but very good) music, then some call-and-answer prayers, and then about an hour of the pastor reading prayers, then a concluding thing, and some more music. There were about 10 all together.
That was pretty amazing. I didn't understand a word of it - all in Korean.
Around 7am I finally managed to get myself home, crashed until 10:15 or so, then went to work. I'm at a stopping point with what I'm doing for Michael; we went over all my changes and he wrote down all that info in a difference log-file. Some of the synchronization is not working cleanly so I'm going to see if I can fix that in one place, and if I have time, perhaps figure out why an error page pops up when a vehicle is saved in the session. I think it's due to some hard-coded URL somewhere.
I did not attend the Good Friday service.
Today, at noon, Michael and his family, and Brad and Linda, will meet with me at a local chinese restaurant for dim-sum, and then tonight we will probably meet for a light supper before the Great Vigil at 7:30.
I didn't get around to making any chocolate so I'll have to purchase something. We have a chocolate-based after-feast at 9pm.
Sunday, I am going to take potato salad of some variety down to Mom's for a semi-family Easter dinner. Casey will be in Arizona and his new wife won't visit without him.
Easter, named, according to the Venerable Bede, after Eostre, a pagan goddess of light and the dawn whose worship had died out some centuries before he wrote of it, leaving behind only the name of the month, is also Pascha (after the Passover) and in some places, Resurrection Day. This is the heart of the mystery.