Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Jewish carpenter and a cross

I have attended quite a few religious services in this past week - my first Good Friday morning and afternoon services, my first Tenebrae service and my first Saturday night Easter Vigil, complete with bonfire, drum, candles and procession. They were all deeply moving and for varied reasons.

At the church where I presently worship, there is a day program for stroke survivors. It is a place for stroke survivors to fellowship and socialize, spending time with friends and making new ones. Father Joe, the priest in charge of St. Andrew's Episcopal church asked one of the participants - a carpenter who is also Jewish - to make a cross for the parish to celebrate Good Friday.

The wood was chosen - then lovingly fashioned into a cross - for religious services in a religion with which the carpenter likely had/has significant differences of opinion. The deep stain was applied and buffed to a high polish. It stood in the Narthex (entry to the church) complete with a crown of thorns. The sight was indeed moving.

When the Father explained the origin of the cross, I began to weep openly - the significance of it was so very real.

At one point during the service, we were advised by the priest that we could go forward and show a sign of respect - he went out of his way to explain to the congregants that a sign of respect could be anything from kissing, to kneeling, to genuflecting etc. There were a few Catholics at the service that night, and as is traditional at Easter - a few people who come to service once a year to show their love for the Saviour. He was explaining various modes of worship/respect in order to make them feel at ease. Feeling at ease is not something we all are able to do in church, particularly during High Holidays or Holy Week and even more so if we are not regular attendees.

I touched the cross and said a prayer and went back to my seat - a changed person - after all these years of calling myself a saint - as in a Latter Day Saint - one who follows the Saviour, I finally understood the crucifixion and suffering, as well as the Easter season.

On Saturday, I reaffirmed my Christian faith - helped along by a very dear friend. My mother sang a beautiful solo and many friends were in attendance. It has been a long path - this journey that I am on - the story is not finished - I continue to walk with God and remember that he loves all of his children - regardless and in spite of their religions.

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