Laughter in the Last Days of Lent...

We're in the last few days of Lent, that seriously solemn season, with Holy Week its sombre culmination... Sadly, all too often for clerics the last few days before Easter is a frantic time of services, vigils and pastoral visits, including a few home communion services (or whatever the equivalent term is in different traditions). And sometimes that can transform something solemn into
something wearisome... So that the "Hallelujah!" of Easter day is in part, a thanksgiving that that's all over for another year!
This week however, I have shared in a couple of liturgical events that punctured the politeness that often attends Holy Week happenings, and brought a touch of joy into the midst of the solemnity...
The first was in a communion being shared with a lady who has dementia in a care home, together with another member of the congregation... I have previously said that home communions with small hygienic glasses of non-alcoholic wine and a tiny circle of bread on a miniature silver patten might sometimes seem like the spiritual equivalent of a Dollies tea-party... but I always find it a blessing to share in communion in this way... But this particular one was especially so as the person in question had their own liturgical responses to what was happening:
"Do-doot, de-doot!"
"Lovely jubbly!"
"Goody, goody, gumdrops!"
I doubt that these will ever make it into any written liturgy, but for me they represented the most spontaneous outpouring of thanks that I have ever experienced in communion... 

The second was in tonight's shared holy week service, where we were reflecting on Jesus' washing the disciples' feet and then commanding that they/we do likewise. The person conducting the service then suggested that we should do this, and myself and the other minister present took our places at two "stations" at either end of the church, ready to go, with me expecting that it might be something between a non-event and excruciatingly embarrassing. However, that was reckoning without the fact that the congregation hosting our Holy Week Services has over recent years had a large number of immigrants/refugees join them, primarily from the middle-east. The planned polite circle of people washing each-others feet, swiftly broke down into a rugby scrum of predominantly male immigrants competing for the honour of taking part in this infrequently observed ordinance... It was divine madness...

In both situations, for very different reasons, the polite, middle-class reserve that constrains much of our spiritual experience was ripped away... It was truly spontaneous, unlike what often passes for "spontaneous" worship, which is too frequently either down to lazy ill-preparedness or conscious manipulation... 
In both situations I wanted to laugh out loud (and I am loud when I laugh), because they were both ridiculous, but wonderfully so... I didn't laugh because it would have been misinterpreted, and even now, in writing this I don't want anyone to think I am laughing at those involved because that is the last thing I would want to do, because they taught me something... However, I do want to laugh with them...
You had to be there, because these were unrepeatable, one off experiences where God showed up in gloriously unexpected ways... and I am glad that I was there when he did...

Selah

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