As I write my monthly letter, I have been preparing the liturgical particulars, with Simone, the wardens and Louw, of our celebration of the Triduum, or Pascal Triduum. This is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) and ends with the Great Vigil and Eucharist of Easter Day. In this, we recall the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the Gospels included in our Bible, central to the expression of our faith. By the time you read it, we will have been in church in person or in spirit sharing the joy of Easter Day.
I give thanks for the opportunities presented in such as this liturgical experience to share at this time. Here we can begin to discover a widening of our understanding, released from a subliminal need to be overly defining of our faith. To be too fussily constrained by the strictures of our creedal statements, I believe, might make us somewhat impervious to the exciting possibilities of spiritual recognition, apprehension, growth, satisfaction and contentment. What I am suggesting is that authentic language of faith is at its most vigorous within the context of real and deep experiences of communal worship. Liturgical language of worship, can, with its words, music, ceremonial and symbolism, drama, passivity and activity, where we apprehend true poetry, with all its mood and rhythm, community and personal reflection be filled with truly inspiring possibilities. We will find multiplicity of meaning and creative imagination in our sacramental and pilgrim adventure through life. Where words in worship, are carelessly or over used they can become cheapened by systematized rigour.
Liturgy of worship at its best fulfils a poetic vocation, vigilant of its words, and how they are put together, and crafted, within its dramatic and devotional context. It awakens, animates and inspires through verbal output no more than by necessary silence and reflection, music, symbol and ceremony. As James Cowan wrote in ‘A Mapmaker’s Dream’, “The sound of St. Mark’s bells pealing across the water at dusk is less a sound of clappers against brass … it is the echo of an invitation being extended to all of us to participate in something deeply imagined”. I am, too, reminded of the words of the surrealist poet Paul Eluard, towards whose poetry I am generally indifferent, but whose particular sentiment I here appreciate, “There is another world but it is in this one”. Christ’s invitation, truly discovered in worship, is to experience the fullness of our being fully alive, at best in the possibility of community and communion.