Monday, April 1, 2013

From Procession to Resurrection. And LA.

Two weeks ago I was asked by the Anglican Chaplaincy to preach and lead the service for Palm Sunday/Passion Sunday (basically when we add the story of the Passion to Palm Sunday for all those people who can't make it to Maundy Thursday or Good Friday. They asked this because there was a last minute cancellation. Sure. Ok. Give me a week to do one of the biggest holidays in the Christian calendar (or 2 holidays depending on how you're counting). Yeah, that sounds good. As though I don't have work, or Daria wasn't coming back or anything.

Well, sure. Considering my theological training, it made sense they would ask me, and I couldn't really let the day pass without something proper so I agreed. Since I'm not ordained the Finnish Lutheran pastor who comes twice a month left reserve sacrament, I took the Church of England's Book of Common Prayer home and set to work.

Friends and family provided me with some helpful texts via pdf and some online resources (since all my books are back in the US). Anxiety and nerves settled in on me throughout the week. I even was scheduled to go with my students to the bar for dinner Saturday evening (which I did end up doing, but didn't stay out as late as I have in the past or as late as I did with my other class this week).

Despite all the stress leading up to the service, it went well. We had a full Palm Procession around our little space (not outside) which is housed upstairs above the main space of the Swedish Lutheran (gotta keep all of them straight) Church. We did both readings, I preached a solid sermon on Jesus's kingship, divine peace, how Luke's Gospel differed from the others and why what he said is important, some good ecumenical ties (thank you inaugurations of the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury for being the week before Palm Sunday - took a couple quotes from their homilies), and reminded people that this week was a busy week between a joyful procession to the death on the cross. Then I led the service with reserve sacrament of the body and blood and it was good.

Move on through the week. Monday we found out that Daria got placed at a site in Los Angeles so we know we're moving there come the summer. This point actually proved helpful teaching grammar. Future continuous: We will be moving to Los Angeles in July. Future perfect simple: We will have moved to Los Angeles by August. And upon a student's question of if there is a Future perfect continuous I gave the example: We will have been living in Los Angeles for 4 months by December. (Don't really use this though).

It is good that Daria got placed (relieved a lot of stress in this house) and while I'm not entirely excited about Los Angeles (ok, I really don't like the idea of living there for geographical and SoCal culture - to quote an old song, "SoCal is where my mind states, but it's not my state of mind"), it will be good for many things. The site is a good center, and we will live with my grandma which has many positive benefits for us and for her. This post could almost be "from grandparents to grandma."

On Wednesday a student of mine declared that it was the 55th day of February because this March has been so wintry and cold. I like the way he thinks. Today's snow storm proved that it's the 60th day when we got about 3-4 inches of snow.

Sadly I missed the Triduum of Holy Week (wasn't entirely pleased about that, but it is what it is) because of work. Daria participated at the Catholic Church for the both of us. I wonder what that would have been like experiencing it in Russian.

Saturday we went to Olya's sister Karina's house with her 3 kids, the twins Tonya and little Vova, and Panya (if you remember from the early posts and summertime). It was quite the delicious dinner of various salads, some fish, and what are called "Archbishop's Potatoes" and fun seeing where they live. One could say it's suburbia in an apartment building. Certainly much different from our apartment, it's quite far from the city (past the last metro stop) and doesn't have nearly as much activities to be done, but it's still lots of blocks of tall apartment buildings.

We went to the Easter Vigil at the Catholic Church, for a short while, but left during the baptisms because it had been a long day with little sleep.

Sunday morning Easter was held at the original Anglican Church on the English Embankment. The building hasn't been used since 1917 except for the choral and Christmas services this past year (aka Easter was the 3 time there in almost 100 years). Despite needing repair it's a beautiful space. Stunning mosaics (including an appropriate Easter themed one), some marble columns with gold capitals. However, it did not feel gaudy or overly opulent, but was quite comfortable. If only we could meet there more often, both for the space (seriously the mosaics - I'd do it all for the mosaics), and to claim our original building back. Alas. (I must admit I forgot the camera so I hope to go back and get pictures, but I don't have any for now).

The service itself was nice and felt very paschal, but truth be told because the hymns and the community. A priest was flown in from the UK and I would have expected him to do the specific parts of the service that say "FOR EASTER AND EASTER SEASON." Nope, he did the things for "regular church season" (ordinary time for those in the know). His sermon also left something to be desired for. Short paraphrase of the gospel (yeah thanks even the non- theologically trained people can grasp the basic meaning of what John wrote), followed by a brief encounter of his experience in 1961 of visiting Lenin's Mausoleum and how people felt like Lenin still lived (but no he doesn't, especially compared to Jesus' resurrection). A few other people and I discussed how we wanted more as we walked home. But somehow despite his poor leading, it felt like Easter, which I think there is something to be said for that. Oh, can we say Alleluia!!!

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