Monday, March 29, 2010

Here We Go...

...plunged into Holy Week. Last night's first Bridegroom Service, always hard-hitting, struck me especially in a few places we sing all the time, not only in Holy Week.

From Psalm 87:

Will You work wonders for the dead? Will the shades arise to give You thanks? Do they declare Your mercy in the grave, and Your truth among those who have perished? Are Your wonders made known in the darkness, or Your justice in the land of oblivion?

And Holy Week made me realize that, although the Psalmist intended these as rhetorical questions, we now know that the answer to each one is, "YES!" Yes! Yes, You work wonders for the dead! Yes, the shades arise to give You thanks! Yes, Your mercy has been declared in the grave, and Your truth among those who have perished! Yes, your wonders are made known in the darkness, and Yor justice in the land of oblivion! Alleluia!

From Psalm 102: "Not according to our sins does He deal with us, nor does He requite us according to our crimes." No, that ugly thing is not what Holy Week is all about, not about Divine Revenge, displaced upon Christ. No. He knows how we were formed; He remembers that we are dust. His compassion is boundless - bounded not even by any need to requite evil with punishment.

"Hear another parable. There was a man, a householder, who planted a vineyard, and put a hedge about it, and dug a wine vat in it, and built a tower, and he let it out to husbandmen, and wend abroad. But when the fruit season drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, to receive his fruits..." And the husbandmen killed the servants, and eventually the son and heir. The husbandmen, not the son's father. Not the householder.

And then there's one of my favorite prayers, for years now, sung in the grim fourth plagal tone: "Bring more evils upon them, O Lord, bring more evils upon those who are glorious upon earth. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia." This one scandalized me the first time I ever heard it. But of course it means, "Do not let the elites [continue to] oppress us. Foil their plots, thwart their schemes, overthrow their tyranny, save us from them.


margaret said...

Shall thy wonders be known in the dark? And thy righteousness in a land that is forgotten?

Ps 87 is one of my favourites for the reasons you list. I do love this Week very, very much.

Steve Robinson said...

The Psalter continually astounds me. I'm glad I'm a chanter.