I had agreed earlier in the week to be the liturgist for my church’s Maundy Thursday service. This is the ceremony during Holy Week when we celebrate the last supper, and remember the betrayal, arrest, and ultimate killing of Jesus. It’s a solemn, beautiful holiday whose ritual involves, among other things, singing in growing darkness.
Meggie the liturgist. I’d get to lead the first half of the service. There would be some call and response; a prayer of confession; a declaration of pardon. The service started. We sang the first hymn—and I realized I had left my lines in the back of the church. They were about ninety feet away, on a table next to the offering plates and the kids’ coloring books. I threw a look at the minister, who was busy being a minster—and there was nothing I could do. The bulletin had half of what I needed—and I had my hands on that—but I also had a hundred people who were ready to confess and who were waiting for a pardon that I would have to pull out of my own little ex nihilo. So that’s what I did. The organist, who apparently knew the script well enough to register when it had gone off the rails, reacted with the professional performer’s mild alarm. I patched together some stuff about Christ and praying. I did remember, after a pause, to say that we are in fact forgiven. But honestly, if you were in services yesterday, and you wondered why the pardon was somewhat abbreviated and odd, I must apologize. It’s because the hamster in my skull was racing on its wheel, trying to reach something holy, other than crap crap crap.
(Originally posted April 14, 2017)