Friday, April 22, 2011

Reflection: Maundy Thursday

The special services and observances of Holy Week are a relatively new addition to my spiritual practices.  The Southern Baptist churches where I grew up didn't take much notice of the liturgical calendar, so these last four years have been a learning time for me. 

As I have mentioned before on this blog, I have been through quite a spiritual upheaval in the last few years.  After coming of age in a conservative Evangelical tradition, I had quite a long "dark night of the soul" in which I struggled with various aspects of my faith.  Part of the renewing of my faith and my love for the church has been the dismantling of my belief system.  As uncomfortable as is the process of questioning everything, it has been vital and freeing and life-giving as well.

I'll be honest: Systematic theology is very, very attractive to me.  "A place for everything, and everything in its place" seems like a beautiful, orderly, peaceful goal.  And because I had devoted myself to understanding Southern Baptist doctrine and scripture interpretation, I very nearly had such a theology in place.  The problem was that it brought me neither beauty nor peace. My neat-and-tidy system of belief left me with very little to believe in.

My first Holy Week experience in 2008 was about fitting all those pieces together.  During the following two years' Holy Weeks, I was very aware that the pieces in my hands didn't fit together in any sort of coherent shape, and so I was at a loss.

And so last night, as I gathered with my beloved church family to commemorate Maundy Thursday, to walk through the steps of Christ's last supper, the institution of the new covenant, his agonized prayer in the garden, and the arrest of the Messiah, I resisted my need to measure and dissect and understand, and I just embraced the mystery.  I made myself sit in the tension rather than search for intellectual answers to the deep questions of my soul.

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