The Good Friday Wake: Gathering with friends to talk about Jesus, the one who has died

The day after my grandmother died, my family gathered in from near and far. Late afternoon, into the evening, sitting in her kitchen and living room, we talked. Coffee was plenteous, a bottle of wine, one platter overflowing with cold cuts, and another with Entenmanns coffee cake. We planned for the funeral, started thinking about distribution of her worldly possessions. Mostly, we shared memories and stories. We laughed about her personality quirks, we sighed about our experiences of her support and care, and we reminded ourselves of the wisdom she had given us. The body of the deceased wasn’t with us in the house, but her spirit sure was there.

Decades later, I was priest of the Advocate when a beloved parishioner died on a Thursday afternoon. A meeting was scheduled at the Church that night. But we knew that our sorrow would prevail, so we announced that we would gather in the Chapel and hold vigil instead. We used Evening Prayer as our guide, read scripture, prayed the Litany at the Time of Death, and shared memories and stories of our friend who had died. We laughed at turns of phrase he had used, reminded ourselves of the ways he had inspired us. We mourned together, and were comforted by our shared memories and shared loss.

These gatherings are not all that unusual. They happen in every faith tradition, in families and households everywhere. The Jews have a custom of “sitting Shiva” for 7 days of mourning, praying and sharing. It is possible that Mary and her friends sat Shiva when Jesus died. (For a day or two anyway!).

In Holy Week, the week leading up to the celebration of Easter, Christians often keep Vigil through the night between the Maundy Thursday liturgy, when commemorates Jesus’ “last supper” with his disciples, and noon on Good Friday, when we remember Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. This custom of keeping vigil emerged out of the story Jesus’ response to his disciples when they fell asleep in the Garden of Gethsemane in the hours before his arrest. “So, you could not stay awake with me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40). The Maundy Thursday Vigil is traditionally held at an “Altar of Repose”, usually festooned with flowers, and attended by one or more of the faithful praying quietly at assigned hours through the night and early morning.

A Good Friday Wake is quite different. Sometime in the evening, most likely after dinner, “friends and family” of the deceased are invited to gather in the Chapel. The Wake can last as little as one hour or as many as three. Three hours allows for the symmetry of the three hours at mid-day, though 1.5 – 2 hours are more doable. People are invited to come for the whole time, or to drop in for a while when they can, just as they would for any wake.

And as with a wake, the atmosphere is a blend of somber and cheery, a blend of sacred Church and gentle fellowship as well. Chairs are set up around a table, or choir style, facing each other for ease of conversation. On a table or bench nearby, a burial icon of Jesus is laid. Votive candles, flowers and herbs surround the icon. Lights are dim and candles are burning. Devotional crosses, or images of the Pieta or the Harrowing of Hell can be set up at stations elsewhere in the room for individual contemplation. Unlit candles and flowers can be made available to be placed around the icon in acts of personal prayer and piety.

Within the room, or in a room nearby, hot tea and hot cross buns are provided, give a family home component to the atmosphere.

The time is roughly divided into half-hours. Each half-hour beginning with a bell toll, then followed by 10 minutes or so of readings (Scripture, poetry and prose), selected by the facilitators. The bell tolls again, and those gathered are invited to share memories or stories about Jesus. Some recount Jesus as he is revealed in Scripture, others as he has been revealed in sacrament or personal prayer. Some traditions might call this “testimony”. But it is more communal than individual. It allows for conversation, as one person’s favorite story is shared by another, or stimulates a different memory.

“Do you remember that time when he wanted us to try to feed that whole crowd of people who’d gathered to hear him preach?”

or

Reflecting on the feeding of the multitude, one person said, “He asked us, ‘What have you got?’”. And then added reflectively, “He used to ask us that a lot…”

or

One person said, “I guess the first time I met Jesus was as a kid in church camp. He singled me out to play throwing water balloons with. I always remember he was so kind…”

Some of these stories are prepared ahead of time by the leaders, but most emerge, organically. And we feel at once shy and bold, vulnerable and faithful.

Another ten minutes, and the facilitator tolls the bell again. Now there is a period of silent meditation until the next half-hour rolls around. People sit or stand, walk about, get some tea, visit one of the other icons, or leave. It is important that people feel they can freely come and go in that time, with as little awkwardness as possible. Though even in awkwardness, we experience a little more of what is happening, of what happened, in those hours.

In practice, some half hours have more silence than others. Sometimes the structure slides away, and there is simply silence and comment, silence and prayer. It’s possible to vary the focus or style of these half hours. One might have a good bit of singing, for example, and be announced ahead of time.

We often end the evening with the facilitator saying:
“I remember Jesus, who said, ‘Where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in the midst of them.’
Let’s pray together the prayer he taught us: Our Father in heaven…
I remember Jesus, who said, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.’ Let us share with each other a sign of Christ’s peace.”

The Peace is exchanged before and head out into the night.
__________

Not everyone will be comfortable with this Good Friday Wake, of course. Some will even find it kind of weird. It does require leadership and modeling by the facilitator(s), and also an ability to stay out of the way once others start to speak. It requires a certain imagination, and a willingness for some of those gathered to share of their own experience. It requires an overall spirit of acceptance and hospitality. No one should feel pressured to speak; there is a lot to be given just by being present, a lot to be gained just by listening. For many, the Wake helps to make the story and Jesus more vivid and more real. More incarnate. For many, the Wake helps to form us for the Resurrection, and for the life of faith.

“This was folk theology”, Miranda said, “a community of faith doing theology together, in the most amazing way. …. It’s been very hard for me to remember, all day, that it’s not Easter yet—not because, sitting around the icon, we forgot that we were grieving a departed friend, but because in our shared grieving and remembering, that friend became so real and present to me.”

The Rev. Lisa G. Fischbeck, Vicar

Link to Episcopal Church Vital Practices Blog.

What Happens Maundy Thursday?

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903630_10100328975028214_779556457_oOn the Thursday of Holy Week, also called Maundy Thursday, the Church universal remembers Jesus’ “last supper” with his disciples. Scripture tells us that they gathered in an “upper room” for the passover meal.  They feasted and enjoyed one another’s fellowship. The frescos of Da Vinci at the Vatican and of Ben Long in Glendale Spring, NC, capture the intimacy and the complexity of that night.
Jesus surprised them all, first by washing their feet, then by his strange words about the bread and the wine. The former practice is remembered with varying degrees of symbolism and formality by many congregations. The latter practice evolved quickly as the Eucharist, the Holy Communion, the Lord’s Supper. And on Maundy Thursday we re-member both events.
Another practice of Maundy Thursday is “the stripping of the altar”. In this, vessels and cloths, of books and of banners, are all removed from the altar and its surrounding space. And the processional cross is veiled in black. It is as though the resurrection never happened. Death is the end. We move toward Good Friday, woefully aware of the disciples’ abandonment, and even betrayal, of Jesus, saddened by our own “standing by” while that crucifixion continues in other forms today.
In the first ten years of the Advocate, we had neither land nor building of our own, and we developed our Holy Week liturgies in such a way as to allow us to enter into Jesus’ last week as a human being as best we could in our time and place. We said “Carrboro becomes Jerusalem”. And we rented the Fleming Lodge at Camp New Hope to be our “upper room”. Maundy Thursday at Camp New Hope quickly became a favorite event in the life of the Advocate.
Each year we gather in the lodge for a festive evening of Middle Eastern food. Fresh tulips on every table, with a chalice of wine. and a basket of pita. Vestry members and other lay leaders serve the tables, and after supper offer the foot washing. An acoustic band leads us in favorite songs: All Who Hunger Gather Gladly, The Servant Song, Ubi Caritas, and more. At the end of the evening we clear the table tops and then the room itself. The transition is made plain. And we gather in the dark on the porch to hear Psalm 22, stand in silence, then go our separate ways into the night.
It is a night of friendship and faith. It is also a night of hospitality. We encourage visitors and friends to come on over and join us.
6:30 – 8:30 PM. Fleming Lodge, Camp New Hope. (off highway 86, 3 miles north of the I40-86 interchange).
Please come and join us for an evening of food, song and prayer. All are welcome.

 

ALS walk April 22! CROP Walk on April 23! Please Support as You Can!

The 2017 CROP walk to raise funds and awareness for hunger in our community and our world is scheduled for Sunday, April 23. As usual, the Advocate is rallying a team and seeks donations of support. See here, to sign up or to support. If you have questions or want to connect with the Advocate Team, contactSallie Moore <sallie305@gmail.com>

This year, we are also rallying to support our sister of The Advocate, Katheryn Manginelli, in the ALS walk in Raleigh on Saturday, April 22. See more about that here.
CROP Hunger Walks supported more than 2,400 food banks, soup kitchen, homeless shelters and other local anti-hunger agencies last year.
The ALS walk is an important means of raising funds and awareness for ALS research. It’s also an important way to support one of our own.
Please walk and/or support the CROP walk and/or the ALS walk as you are able.
Thanks!
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Holy Week and Easter at the Advocate

April 8                     Cultivating the Garden                   The Saturday before Palm Sunday
Gather at the Advocate Garden at 10 AM to tend to the existing patch and to begin to prepare the bed for expansion for future Pee Wee Homes residents. As you are able, bring newspapers, old leaves, and/or kitchen (vegetable or fruit) scraps.

IMG_3789 (1)Palm Sunday, April 9
+ Procession with Palms and Holy Eucharist. Gather at the Advocate Pond at 10:00 AM for the blessing of the palms, and flowers or branches brought from home. Procession followed by Holy Eucharist in the Chapel.

+ Tenebrae at 7 PM. We move into Holy Week with this service of growing darkness, readings and song. Music led by a visiting schola from Raleigh.

Monday of Holy Week, April 10
+ Holy Eucharist at 5:30 PM

Tuesday of Holy Week, April 11
+ Holy Eucharist at 5:30 PM

Wednesday of Holy Week, April 12
+ Holy Eucharist at 5:30 PM

IMG_0753Maundy Thursday, April 13
+ Dinner fellowship (food provided), Foot-washing and Table Eucharist. In the Fleming Lodge at Camp New Hope. 6:30 PM. (Camp New Hope is on NC86, 3 miles north of the I40 – NC86 interchange)

Good Friday, April 14
+ The Way of the Cross/ Via Dolorosa. In Spanish and English. Beginning at 12 noon. Acompáñenos en peregrinaje desde la Alcaldia de Carrboro hasta el Cementerio Viejo (Beginning at Carrboro Town Hall, winding through Carrboro, and ending at the Old Cemetery. Through downtown Carrboro. Meet at Carrboro Town Hall. (no dogs, please).
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+ The Good Friday Liturgy, with hymns, prayers, and the Passion from the Gospel of John. 6 PM in the Advocate Chapel.

+ The Wake. 7 PM – 9 PM. Gather with other friends of Jesus for a simple supper and to reminisce about his life and the experiences you have shared with him. Supper 7-7:30 PM. Each half hour, 7:30 – 9 PM will include readings, contemplative prayer, and shared reflection. Come on the hour or on the half hour and stay for any, or all, of the Wake.

Holy Saturday, April 15
+The Holy Saturday Liturgy at 10AM in the Advocate Chapel. Gather in the Chapel for this brief liturgy of readings, reflection and prayers.

IMG_4811Saturday Night, April 15
+ The Great Vigil of Easter with Renewal of Baptismal Vows. This is our first liturgy of Easter, when we celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord in the darkness of night. (As you are able, please bring a bell, horn or whistle to accompany the Paschal Shout). In the Advocate Chapel. Starting at 8 PM.

Easter Day, April 16
+ 9 AM          Holy Eucharist in the Chapel.

+ 10 AM        Festival Brunch (As you are able, bring a festive dish to share. Kids bring a basket for an Easter Egg hunt).

+ 11 AM        Holy Eucharist with Baptism, by the Pond. Bring your own chairs or blanket to sit upon.

Weather updates will be posted as needed.

$30,000 Challenge to Friends of the Advocate for Debt Relief

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In 2013, The Advocate was at the peak of our campaign to worship on the land. We had raised the funds to buy the land and to move what would become The Advocate Chapel, and we still needed to restore the chapel and to get the site up to code for use by a church (parking lot, sewer, pond repair, etc. etc.). We had raised a bunch of money (over $1.5 million), but not enough. So we took out two loans:

  • A $150,000 loan from the North Carolina Episcopal Church Foundation. This loan is being paid at 2% interest over 10 years. The 10% payment and the 2% interest are both budgeted in the Advocate’s Annual Budget. About $90,000 remains to be paid on this loan.
  • A $180,000 loan from an anonymous individual loaner. This loan was without interest for one year, then a 1.5% interest rate and interest-only payments for 4 years. After five years, the entire $180,000 is due. This is what could be called “a balloon loan”. It comes due early in 2018.

In 2016, the people of the Advocate received a challenge to raise $40,000 toward the retirement of this second debt. With significant stretch, Advocates stepped up. In November 2016 our $40,000 plus the challenge gift allowed us to pay of $80,000 of that $180,000 loan. $100,000 remains.

We have now been offered a generous $30,000 match for any gifts given by friends of the Advocate in 2017.  

Any gift given by a friend of the Advocate – or by a friend or family member of a member of the Advocate — towards the Advocate’s debt retirement in 2016 will be matched up to $30,000 this year.

If we can meet this challenge, we will reduce the $100,000 remaining on this debt by $60,000.

That’s huge for us.

Checks should be designated for “Debt Relief” and written to The Episcopal Church of the Advocate (or ECOTA) and sent to 8410 Merin Road, Chapel Hill, NC, 27516.

Thank you!

Music That Makes Community Workshop Ahead

Music That Makes Community is excited to make our first visit to Chapel Hill, North Carolina, sharing paperless music and leadership practices! Join presenters Marilyn Haskel and Paul Vasile for a one-day paperless music workshop at The Episcopal Church of the Advocate on Saturday, November 11 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Explore the basics of paperless music, learn new songs to enrich your community’s worship life, and reflect on strategies for cultivating participatory singing and liturgy.

We’ll gather in the historic, carpenter gothic Episcopal church building that was moved, lovingly restored, and repurposed by the congregation in 2012. The acoustics inside the nave have been described as being “like in the inside of a guitar,” perfect for unplugged instruments and a cappella singing.

Register HERE!

Registration Fee: $25
Refreshments, a light lunch, and workshop materials are included.

MMC will also host a free Community SING at the church on Friday, November 10 at 7 p.m. Singers of all ages and abilities are invited to learn paperless songs from diverse spiritual traditions, languages and cultures, led by a dynamic team of Music That Makes Community presenters.

Discounts are available for students, seminarians and seniors. Contact Paul Vasile in the MMC office to learn more.

WHEN
November 11, 2017 at 9:30am – 4pm
WHERE
The Episcopal Church of the Advocate
8410 Merin Rd
Chapel Hill, NC 27516
United States

Owning Up. Lent One Sermon by Nathan Kirkpatrick

OWNING UP
A sermon preached at the Episcopal Church of the Advocate | Lent One 2017

 One of the strangest realities about our life together as church
is the way we come together and say the hardest things to each other.
And then, somehow, when we have, we walk away a bit lighter.

It happened on Wednesday.
At noon and at 7, groups of us gathered in this place.
With ashes on our foreheads,
We looked at each other and said,
“remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.”
Lisa put it as bluntly as possible in her sermon, we. Will. die.
And yet, on Wednesday evening, after the service,
I, for one, walked out into the rain and felt vibrantly alive.

It’s one of the strangest realities about church —
We come together and say the hardest things to each other,
And yet, there is in the saying of it some measure of liberation.

It happens here on Sunday mornings, too.
We gather together.
And we, perfectly lovely, perfectly nice people,
Come together and reveal the reality about our lives.
We come together and we pierce all our illusions and facades that we spend so much of the rest of our time constructing or protecting,
to acknowledge who we have become
and how we are and how we live in the world;
what we really hope for and what we really fear;
and whether it’s a simple or sprawling prayer of confession,
we acknowledge the evil we have done
and the evil done on our behalf.
We gather and sit with sin, our own and our own.
We say the hardest things about how our lives have gone.
And then we hear a word of liberation –
That the Lord has put away our sin,
that our transgressions have been forgiven,
that mercy embraces those who trust in God.
It’s one of the strangest realities of our life together as church –
We come together and say the hardest things to each other,
And find, when we do so, there is some measure of freedom.

This telling the truth is the hardest part of Lent.
As a child, I thought that the hardest part of Lent
was the giving up — the no chocolate, no candy, no cookies,
the no peanuts, pretzels or cracker jacks.
The no television, no video games, the no internet
(not that we had the internet when I was a kid,
Al Gore had not invented it yet; but you get the idea).
I thought the hardest part was the giving up.
But, what I’ve come to realize is
that the hardest part of Lent is
not the giving up but the owning up. 

It’s not that the giving up is easy,
but the owning up is so much harder —
it’s hard to tell the truth about ourselves,
not just because telling the truth, in and of itself, is hard,
but because we confront this tension
between who we were created to be and who we so often are.
We confront the truth that it’s easy to forget who we are created to be.

It’s why we begin our readings this morning in a garden,
Soon after the birth of all things.
You remember that, in the beginning of Genesis,
We hear of a God who creates everything that is
Not because God had to
but because God – in God’s own life –
Was overflowing with love.
And God births the universe out of love,
To share love, for the sake of love.
And the clearest way we know that?
Genesis tells us that we are created in the image of God,
as reflections of God in the world, to love –
To care for one another, to care for creation,
To walk humbly and justly before God.
That’s why we’re here.
It’s why we were made in the beginning.
It’s why creation carries on;
Love is why creation carries on.

But, we are told just a few verses in that this love gets sullied.
We heard the story this morning.
Now, I don’t want us to get hung up on the talking snake;
Whether or not there was a loquacious reptile is beside the point,
the story points to something profoundly true about the spiritual life:
the temptation for Eve and for Adam is to forget who they are.
The serpent – the craftiest of creatures –
whispers in the young woman’s ear –
“God knows that if you eat of this tree
your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.”
The problem with this reasoning is
That just a few short verses earlier
We are told that Eve and Adam
already were like God
In every way that mattered.
They were made from God’s love for God’s love to be love.
Their temptation is to forget.

The temptation is always to forget.
In the Gospel reading, we find Jesus, moments after his baptism,
Perhaps still a little damp from the full immersion in the river,
still reflecting on the dove and the voice from heaven,
Jesus is driven into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.
(My favorite cartoon of this scene shows Jesus strapped into the passenger seat of a Jeep with a ghost-like driver saying to him, “just two more hours.”)
Not what it means driven.
Jesus is moved, propelled into the wilderness by the Spirit of God.
There, after forty days of fasting and prayer,
Jesus meets the tempter,
The nagging voice, the shadow side, the adversary, Satan,
However you want to narrate it.
But there, in the wilderness, as the voice had whispered in the garden,
The tempter whispers to Jesus – “forget, forget, forget.”
The voice that whispers you are not enough and who do you think you are – what Brene Brown calls the twin tapes of shame. Forget. Forget. Forget.
“If you are the Son of God … turn these stones into bread.”
Forget that the Son of God came not to be served but to serve.
“If you are the Son of God … throw yourself down and let angels catch you.”
Forget that the Son of God came not for signs and wonders, for show and splash.
“If you are the Son of God … worship me and I will give you all the kingdoms of the earth.”
Forget that the Son of God came to announce a new kingdom that exists by God’s priorities and passions and not to lead the old ones.
Forget, forget, forget…

But we notice here the difference between Adam and Eve and Jesus;
It’s the difference Paul is calling our attention to in Romans –
If the temptation is always to forget; then the grace that is found in Jesus
is that he remembered.
He didn’t forget that love is the way, the calling, the reality of our lives.
And so, when the tempter, the nagging voice, the shadow side, the adversary, Satan – however you narrate it – comes and says “forget,”
Jesus says, “remember.”

And so, the hardest part of Lent is to remember, to own up
To who we are,
to who we are made to be,
and why we are here.
To remember that we are made from love,
for love,
to be God’s love in the world.
The hardest part of Lent is to remember that sin isn’t the truth
of who we are, but is what happens when we forget who we are.

And let’s not overlook the fact that some of us
Grew up in homes and with families that help us forget;
The language was of love but the acts were of harm.
Forget…
Some of us – many of us – still live and move in systems and structures
That enable us and encourage us to forget.
We live in systems and structures that
Reward the degrading of creation instead of the care for it,
And when we do, we pillage and pollute our own homes.
Forget…

We live in systems and structures that tell
persons of color and the poor and the prisoner
that they are less than,
and when we believe it or act from it, we are all diminished.
Forget…

We live in systems and structures that
Encourage us to seek our own welfare before the welfare of the city, the common good,
That make apathy an easier choice than love.
Apathy is the great challenge of our day, not hate.
And when we believe it, we lose.
Forget…

It’s a curious thing about our life together —
How we come together and say the hardest things to each another.
We do it so we don’t forget. It’s so we remember.

Lenten Quiet Day April 1

The Church of the Advocate contemplative prayer group invites you to share in a Lenten Quiet Day out at Megan and Jonathan Leiss’ farm, Spring Forth Farm, in Hurdle Mills on Saturday April 1st from 9:30-4pm.

The day will largely be self-guided quiet time with opportunities to engage in light meditative garden work and fellowship.  A noon meal is provided and will be a plain Lenten meal of soup and bread. 

Registration required as we can only host 20 folks.  Please register by Sunday March 26th.  

Suggested donation of $5 to cover supplies and tea and coffee, etc. 

Please come and join us in the quiet and beauty of Spring Forth Farm during this Lenten season.  

For more information or to register email Megan Leiss at leiss.megan@gmail.com or Paul Marvin at pmarvin@nc.rr.com.  

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HONOR Your Life Through Journal Writing

imagesSundays at 1PM March 12, 19, and 26.

HONOR your life through journal writing. Journal writing is not so much about writing as it is about self-understanding and self-discovery. If you’ve never kept a personal journal, join us and learn ways to dip into the wellspring of your inner thoughts. Discover your voice, even when you think you have nothing to say. Experience how journal writing can bring clarity to your thinking. If you’ve already discovered the life-enriching gifts of journal writing, join us and share your experience, knowledge, and wisdom. We will meet around 1:00, following the noon meal, on March 12, 19, and 26. Journals will be provided. Contact:  Hilda Bukowski at hldscll2@gmail.com or 919-904-7007.

Stations of the Cross Around the Advocate Pond

IMG_9692This Lent, The Episcopal Church of the Advocate invites our neighbors and friends, known and unknown, to participate in the ancient practice of prayer and reflection called the Stations of the Cross, around the Advocate Pond. Traditionally, the fourteen stations mark different events on the path that Jesus walked through the city of Jerusalem on the day of his death, from the house of the Roman governor, Pontius Pilate, where he was condemned to die, to the hill at Golgatha, where he was crucified. At each station, participants pause for a reading from scripture, a prayer, and a time of meditation.

From early times, each of the fourteen stations has been marked by a Roman numeral. At The Advocate, we have localized the stations by using discarded railroad spikes from the nearby tracks for the numerals, and affixing them to reclaimed local barn boards.

A booklet of the fourteen stations, with prayer and scripture readings, is available in a box by the outdoor altar. The first station is just to the east of the altar (towards the railroad tracks), and the stations proceed counterclockwise around the pond, ending with the fourteenth station just to the west of the altar.

The Stations may be walked and prayed at any time by any one. On Fridays in Lent, at 5:30 PM, someone from the Advocate will lead the way for any who wish to gather and participate in  the Stations together.

All are welcome.