I’ve just completed a rich and satisfying Holy Week in Maine, worshiping in six different congregations.
Gretchen and I were delighted to celebrate Palm Sunday with Lev Sherman and the good people of All Saints’, Skowhegan. The Palm Sunday liturgy is one of the more complicated liturgies of the Church Year with its marking of both Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his crucifixion on Good Friday. The Palm/Passion mix is meant to provide a bit of Holy Week for those who won’t darken the doors again until Easter Day. The Bishop’s Visit adds a few more wrinkles, but renewing our vows of baptism fit quite well with the themes of Palm/Passion Sunday.
Skowhegan is a pretty good drive from Portland, but under two hours, so Gretchen and I were out the door early. We met with those being confirmed and then joined for the Liturgy. The two confirmands were the sponsors of a grandchild being baptized, so there was great joy associated with the service. Seminarian Annette Joseph, in the midst of mentored practice at All Saints, assisted with the service and offered special music.
After the service, there was a gala reception and a time for questions. There was considerable interest in the Pope’s offer to welcome disaffected Anglicans. Then there was time with the Vestry. Finances are very tight at All Saints’ but the Vestry is working hard to keep ministry at the forefront.
On Tuesday, some 90 clergy gathered at the Cathedral of St. Luke’s for the annual Renewal of Vows and Blessing of Oils service. The Revs. Calvin Sanborn of St. Matthew’s, Hallowell, and Rebecca Grant of St. Mark’s, Augusta, offered reflections on their vocational life, and then the clergy gathered with the Cathedral community for the renewal of vows, beginning with baptismal vows. It was a wonderful service with stirring music led by Cathedral Music Director Albert Melton and supported by the Vergers corps. After the service, the clergy gathered for fellowship over lunch.
Wednesday afternoon, Gretchen and I left for Mt. Desert Island arriving in time to share supper with Jon and Ruth Appleyard of St. Saviours, Bar Harbor. Over the next four days we had the opportunity to share worship with all four island congregations. On Thursday we shared the Maundy Thursday service, including the stripping of the altar, with St. Saviours. The pews of St. Saviours were filled with some 270+ Easter dinner boxes for low-income members of the MDI community, a ministry shared by a number of congregations on the island and coordinated by St. Saviours.
Good Friday we celebrated the proper liturgy with the Rev. Chuck Bradshaw and the people of the Church of Our Father, Hulls Cove. The service was marked by strong attendance and excellent singing. After the service Gretchen and I shared supper with Chuck and Beth Bradshaw at their home.
The Great Vigil of Easter was celebrated with an exuberant Eucharist by all four congregations at St. Mary’s Chapel, Northeast Harbor. Rector Patricia Robertson had crafted a wonderful service that was matched by the enthusiastic participation of the people – oh, the bells! All the MDI clergy took part, and I got the added joy of declaiming St. Chrysostom’s Easter sermon. The Vigil was as mystical and joyful as any I’ve had the good fortune share. A delightful reception followed.
We marked Easter with two services at St. John’s, Southwest Harbor. St. John’s is between rectors but that did nothing to diminish participation in the services. We enjoyed the additional support of a young trumpeter from the high school. Following the service Gretchen and I toured the West Side Food Pantry and got to witness the the wonderful ministry there.
My thanks to everyone who made the week possible and for the gracious hospitality of all the congregations. It was a moving time of worship and fellowship, a time for deepening our relationships and thanking God for the gift of God’s son. Sharing Holy Week is a different way for me to experience our congregations and to be with God’s people. I look forward to continuing this practice in the year’s ahead.