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Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Women in Holy Week

Pick up the chicken at the church for Maundy Thursday dinner. Check.

Meet with the landscapers to finish the yard around the house. Check.

Gather documents together for the appointment with the Tax Accountant to file this year's taxes. Check.

Deal with various and sundry unexpected phone calls that add to my growing 'to do' list. Check.

Plan the menu and shop for Easter Day dinner for six - after checking out a local butcher a friend told me about so I don't have to dress the leg of lamb myself.

Check, Check, and Check.

'Holy' Wednesday, my left foot.

According to that indispensable but not thoroughly reliable resource, Wikipedia:
In Western Christianity, the Wednesday before Easter is sometimes known as "Spy Wednesday",as a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot, indicating that it is the day that Judas Iscariot first conspired with the Sanhedrin to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins.

This event is described in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 26:14-16, Mark 14:10-12, Luke 22:3-6.

The Sanhedrin was gathered together and it decided to kill Jesus, even before Pesach if possible. In the meantime, Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper. Here he was anointed on his head by Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, with very expensive ointment of spikenard. Some of the disciples, particularly Judas, were indignant about this; the oil could have been sold to support the poor. Judas went to the Sanhedrin and offered them his support in exchange for money. From this moment on Judas was looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.
Hey, Jude, give a girl a break, wouldya?

I mean, I suppose I COULD be sitting in church, contemplating the mysteries and magnitudes of Holy Week, but life goes on, ya know, and a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do.

I'm especially glad not to have to plan this year's Holy Week observances. Been there. Done that. Not one T-shirt. I 'just' have to show up for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday, preach for The Great Vigil and again for the 11 o'clock on Easter Day.

I remember it well. Three-ring circus comes close as a metaphor but doesn't exactly hit the mark.

I do remember one year when the Parish Administrator AND Sexton were out sick, the organist was "coming down with something" and it was "all hands on deck" (which included most of the members of my mumbling, grumbling family) until 11:30 PM on Holy Wednesday, proofreading, collating, folding, stapling and trying not to mutilate hundreds of copies of service bulletins for the Triduum.

Oh, and I remember a few funerals and a ton of hospital calls and home visits, and not more than a dozen or so looooong conversations with people on the phone who found the events of Holy Week touching deeply into old wounds of betrayal and suffering and pain.

From then on, the 'inside joke' in my family was that this is "Holy 'Old Hell' Week".

I rather like Elaine Pagels assertion that women were the first priests in all but name, until the old boy network pushed them out, roughly in the middle of the second century.

I mean, in Scripture, it’s the women who gradually occupy center stage after men have done their worst to Jesus. It’s the women who come to anoint his body for burial and the first to perceive him as “risen” — that is, an experience stronger than and independent of physical death.

Where do you think they were all that time?

Probably in the kitchen, chopping fruit and vegetables, schlepping water, cooking up great pots of food, grinding grain, baking bread, sharing the stories of the day and their lives, as women are of't wont to do.

The most well-known witnesses to Jesus’ last days are Mary the mother of Jesus and Mary Magdalene. It is Mary Magdalene, from whom Jesus reportedly cast out seven demons, who shows up in every Resurrection account.

It is she who was faithful to the end. She’s the woman who keeps on following the gospel when everyone around her is scoffing at religion.

Mary of Magdala was commissioned an apostle when Jesus told her to go tell. The phrase “go and tell” is “apostellein” in Greek. Church teachers referred to her as an apostle until the third century, and even today Eastern Catholic churches call her “apostle to the apostles".

Indeed, it was Mary Magdalene "and other women" who first discovering the empty tomb and heard the message of his Resurrection.

Jesus entrusted to women the part of witnesses (and often the sole witnesses) to the most tremendous facts in his life.

Why was that, do you suppose?

I'm thinking that Jesus knew what all good leaders and managers know: If you want to get something done, ask the busiest person you know. And, as we all know, that person is usually a woman.

So, let's not forget the women of Holy Week. Indeed, let's make a special point to remember them.

I know I will be thinking of all the Holy Women Jesus knew and loved as I spend my time between cooking in the kitchen, shopping at the market, writing sermons and, of course, being in church.

Have a most blessed Triduum!


DeanB said...

Hey rev Liz, you bet those women were in the kitchen. They were getting ready for Passover! They were baking matzo, not bread, though.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hey, DeanB - you bet they were cooking up a storm.

And, BTW and for future reference, like my namesake, I'm Elizabeth, not 'Liz'.

DeanB said...

Please accept my apology for the inappropriate informality.

When I looked at our seder table, I saw our matzo cover, embroidered by Ethiopian Jews. It has a picture of their traditional way of making matzos, probably not much changed since 2000 years ago.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

No problem, Bex. I have no doubt I won't have to remind you again, as I do with so many others.