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Saturday, April 12, 2014

What to say about Holy Week?

Easter Morning - Reverently Processing

How do you coach your Passion Gospel readers for Palm Sunday? What do you say to your Lectors and Eucharistic Ministers about the many services during Holy Week? Is there a Holy Week State of Mind?

Our Rector, Father Stuart Shelby, sent this paragraph to all St. Richard’s Holy Week liturgy participants this morning:

“As we approach Holy Week, let me express my deep appreciation for each of you and the ministry we share. Thank you for the preparation and time you put into this work as Lectors and Lay Eucharistic Ministers; and thank you for being fellow intercessors for all who would be drawn to be comforted by the Gospel and our Lord's Presence when they gather to worship with us. Last year, eight hundred of us and many we don't know gathered at St. Richard's on Saturday evening and Sunday morning to celebrate our Lord's Resurrection. No matter the count, I am confident we will do our various parts with excellence, joy and gratitude.”

After our rehearsal of the Passion Gospel Reading this morning I sent this to our Lectors:

Please remember that the Gospel reading tells a story, in this case the VERY SIGNIFICANT STORY of Christ's death and the events surrounding it. To that end, please reconsider your parts and rehearse them aloud at a moderate rate of speech, using the punctuation and within the following context:

"Make the music of the voice match or move with the content being read." If you were a musical composer putting music to a lyric, you'd have to match the lyrics with your music. If you were a lyricist writing the words to go with a melody, your words would need to follow the music. Likewise, we're reading with emotion to help tell a story to the congregation. Don't hold back your emotions. (Don't over-do either. This is not Shakespearean Theater.)

So I am saying that anyone can read words from a page, but sincere oral interpretation of the written scriptural word demands that the audience receives the intended content of the writing in a way that requires the least decoding possible (or none at all) on their part. Make it easy for our parish family to "get it".

Notice that Father Shelby pays special attention to that notion in his preaching style every time he preaches, and even when he is making announcements. He really cares that the congregation has a more than even chance of really receiving ("getting it") the message. Let’s follow his excellent lead and honor the Gospel reading tomorrow morning, keeping our individual spoken efforts centered in our hearts.

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