Good Friday With the Methodists

I estimate forty of us—
spread like thin gravy
over the dim sanctuary.

"Ecce Homo" by Benjamin Lopez

“Ecce Homo” by Benjamin Lopez

My own Baptist flock
honors the noontime
crucifixion, so tonight
my son and I are free
to join these Methodists
who have hired four
Gregorian chanters from
the Catholics up the road.

My son was attentive
at first, but is now
rifling through items
in the pew rack:
offering envelopes
prayer request cards
“What Methodists Believe”.

The tiny choir is giving it
their all with Dubois’
Christ, We Do All Adore Thee
but are hobbled
by a soprano whose high G
doesn’t quite clear the bar.

The man across the aisle
is fighting to keep awake,
his head swinging
like a censer.

What a pitiful clot
we are, curdling
beneath the cross.
We chant our confession:
We love darkness rather than light
and I reckon
my own brambly heart
as exhibit-A.

For on this night of nights,
as sorrow and love
flow mingled down,
I’m still fuming
at the seminarian who,
just yesterday,
misspelled “Maundy”
on our church marquee
and whom I (rightly)
castigated just before
the foot-washing.

Yet now,
in the cover
of this half-light,
the memory
of his wounded face
pierces me.

The choir is lumbering
through the Palestrina
Kyrie while the man
across the aisle
softly snores.

© Julie Pennington-Russell

5 thoughts on “Good Friday With the Methodists

  1. I left my comment previously; however, Holy Week has become an important part of my Christian journey. Several years ago I attended Holy Week services at an Episcopal church, and as I witnessed and participated in their services Easter became more meaningful to me as I walked with Jesus during His last days on earth leading up to His crucifixion.

    • Carol, I’m so glad you let yourself experience Holy Week in all its fullness each year. I agree–Easter becomes all the more meaningful when we’ve walked the steps of Christ in the week leading up to it. Blessings on you today, friend.

  2. So beautifully written Julie! I felt I was sitting in the pew curdling beside you, watching the nodding censor, holding my breath for the aspiring soprano, feeling the sting of conviction about hypocrisy … that wounded face a reflection of Christ’s. Thank you for this nudge about honesty at Easter.

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