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Thursday, April 05, 2007

The Triduum: Three Days of Awe and Wonder

Note: This is the essay fwhich appeared today in my monthly column "Faith Matters" in THE DAILY RECORD.

I’m keenly aware as I write this essay that it will be published on Maundy Thursday, the first day of the “Triduum,” three of the most sacred days of Holy Week for all Christians, from Roman Catholic to Anglo Catholic, Evangelical to Mainline Protestant, and the entire range of traditional, historic Orthodox Churches. While our Muslim friends just completed Mawlid an Nabi, the birthday celebration of the Prophet Muhammad (March 20-31), it is also the Third Day of Passover for Jews of the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and Reconstructionist traditions.

These are holy days for many people of faith – filled with the stories of the holy people who gave us the foundation of our respective faith traditions. They are stories of miracles and wonders of how
• through the great Prophet Moses, the Hebrew Nation was miraculously spared from the last plague brought on by God as a way to soften Pharaoh’s heart and convince him to break the crushing bonds of slavery.
• in the birth of the eminent Prophet Muhammad, Ishmael, the first-born son of the ancient Prophet Abraham, realized the promise made by God to become a mighty nation.
• in the shameful, hideous, sacrificial death of Jesus, the great Prophet and High Priest for Christians, the gift of resurrection and new life was given.

While the content of the stories vary greatly, these three major religions of the world hold similar things as sacred: the history of God’s presence and action in the world, the power of sacred story to teach and heal, and the ability of God’s love to restore and renew the people of God to the image God had of the human condition from the very beginnings of the whole of Creation.

No matter who you are or the exact nature of the faith you profess, there is no denying the sacred nature of these days of early Spring, when the ground, made hard by a long winter, begins to soften like Pharaoh’s heart, freeing the life held in the long winter’s bondage. One can feel the promise of new life as the heads of the crocus, bruised purple from their labor, make their way up through the earth to remind us that whatever God has promised will be granted. And as the forsythia stretch their shrubbery fingers in blossoming, brilliant yellow toward the sky, we are reminded of the cosmic source of all Life, always renewing, always reviving, always resurrecting.

The whole of creation, it seems, conspires to tell the story that these are days of miracle and wonder, set aside, in the magnificent words of the Book of Common Prayer, that, “the whole world may see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection.”

May these three days, and all the days of our lives, be most holy for you and yours.


Ann said...

Who fell asleep on the table? Mad Priest could photoshop this for you to make it more entertaining.

Mark said...

I think it's supposed to be John, laying his head on Jesus. That or the Youngest Son found four drinks of wine to be too much.

CJ said...

Beautifully written. Thank you.