Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Washing Feet on Maudy Thursday

Well here I go. I was brought up that it was impolite to talk about sex, politics or religion. We all know it's boring to NOT talk about those three little words. So here I go....calm down, not about sex. And I'll do politics later.......
I was brought up in the Episcopal Church. My family have been Episcopalians since it was started in 1785. I was certainly brought up not to wear my religion on my sleeve. PLEASE! Didn't the Baptists do that.
We went to church regularly, and then retreated to different homes for cocktails and lunch. All very civilized. And we always did ashes on Ash Wednesday, later towards the end of Lent, went to some services during Holy week, going to an occaisional Sunrse Easter service on some years. And ALWAYS, when we traveled, we went to services at the local, usually historic Episcopal Churches.
Several years ago, the church I was brought up in, began the practice of brining in a wooden cross towards the end of the service. That sounds very quaint, and respectful, and Holy. WELL, the church has a woman Deacon, should I say Deaconess? And her idea was to laboreously drag an enormous wooden cross, BAREFOOT, down the aisle. I was so taken aback, I quietly left. I heard from others, who could have been pulling my leg, that she flung herself down on the cross at the steps going up to the communion rail. Last year, I went thinking again I would leave after communion, when a young member of the congregation started taking pictures, WITH FLASH, of the entire service. Isn't THAT solemn. I left early to wait for friends at my private club for lunch, and let them tell me about the Cross drag.
This year I thought, well I hadn't been to Maundy Thursday in a while, maybe I'd do that instead. OMG! Everything went well, solemn, respectful, UNTIL.....the talk about Jesus and the foot washing. Next thing I know, in the oldest Episcopal Church in our little city, congregants who wished to participate, were instructed to remove their socks and shoes and walk down the aisle for the washing. And did they use something nice like a silver pitcher? Too fancy maybe? How about a nice earthernware or pottery pitcher/jug? No, it was ribbed plastic beer pitchers. And who walked up to do this? The cradle Episcopalians I grew up with? No, mostly those ex-Baptists who flocked to our doors. At the end of that, we all watched as the preists all put their socks and shoes back on. So solemn.
I had felt that this year would be the sunrise service year to observe Easter at that, my cradle Church. Thinking if they did that on Maundy Thursday, and yes the Cross dragging on Friday did happen.....what would they do Easter?
I didn't find out. A fledgling little country, carpenter Gothic Episcopal Church, that actually is older than the city church, had a beautiful, almost 1928 prayer book service later in the morning. Welcome happy morning indeed! A beautiful, respectful, solemn service, that was over just in time for bloody mary's and cheese straws at the Plantation. There stil are nice things left....sometimes you just have to look for them!