A Letter for Holy Week and Easter To the Beloved in Christ at Ashmont Dear Friends, Here we are late in Lent. It is nearly time to stop and contemplate the conclusion of our Lenten pilgrimage: the Triduum – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Easter Vigil, when we gather at church all three nights at 7. Our purpose in gathering on those three nights is to “survey the wondrous Cross on which the Prince of Glory died.” To “survey” means to gaze - to focus – on the Cross. We put our normal busy lives on “pause” for these three nights. We put the usual things aside and deliberately and consciously take the time to quiet down and contemplate the Cross, in order to focus our hearts and minds on the final hours of Jesus’ life. The early Christians did not have crosses in their churches. To them, the Cross represented the defeat of Jesus by the forces of evil. Only gradually did they come to see the Cross as a symbol of victory. They came to realize that when evil seemed to defeat Jesus, he did not retaliate or change: he continued quietly and steadfastly to love, to forgive (“they know not what they do”), to reassure (“Today,” he said to the penitent thief, “you will be with me in paradise”). Two thousand years later, the so-called powerful people of Jesus’ time are gone and forgotten, but the Cross continues “towering o’er the wrecks of time.” On the Cross, we see God’s love as utterly defenseless and vulnerable, but, at the same time, as invincibly powerful through all of time. In our three Triduum nights at the foot of the Cross, we stop to contemplate that love, to gaze upon it, to survey its defenseless vulnerability and its invincible power. That is why we need to “be there.” We need to hear Jesus cry aloud his final words: “It is finished.” We need to focus on those final moments when what he came to do - to love, forgive, heal, even in the darkest hours - is completed before our eyes. And when, at the foot of the Cross, we look upon that amazing love, when we contemplate what it means for us, we shall be moved to conclude: Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were an offering far too small, Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all. A columnist in the London Daily Telegraph recently quoted The Rev. Lucy Winkett, vicar of St. James’s Church, Piccadilly, as saying that the British look on church-going as they look on going to the bathroom: “It’s good manners not to say where they’ve been, and never mention what happened there.” I sometimes feel that we at All Saints’ are like the British in that regard. We keep our parish – and our faith – a secret. The Triduum offers each of us the opportunity to bring someone with us to church. The Triduum invites us to share our faith. F.W.J.