Friday, April 06, 2012

Another man done gone

Trayvon was all over the Good Friday service for me today, and not just because I attended the Good Friday Blues at St. Mark in the Bowery - though I'm sure that helped. As the rector told me a few weeks ago, a blues service is a tradition at St. Mark's; nobody makes an explicit connection of the passion story with the history of African American suffering and survival. Nobody has to. But it gives the story a powerful, powerful reality. Recognizing how common unjust death is, one felt its ubiquity, and the power of the passion. In one of the meditations, someone spoke of the Afghan family murdered by that American staff sergeant, mostly women and children. As never before I understood a way of seeing the story of the betrayal and crucifixion of Jesus not as an exceptional event, a hierophany, but as yet another example of the sad norm of human history, God taking human form, and suffering human horror. I remembered reading that the Roman roads of occupied Palestine were lined with crosses.

I can't describe the service to you, with a retelling of the passion mixed with song and three meditations, followed by a long veneration of the cross and Eucharist and ending with a spirited "When the saints go marching in." But I can tell you of some of the music, blues and gospel, spirituals and more. "Were you there when they crucified my Lord," came of course. "I've been 'buked and I've been scorned." "Sometimes I feel like a motherless child." But also "No trouble at the river." "Weepin' Mary." "Another man done gone." "Chain of fools." "Everybody's cryin' mercy." Also a jazz setting of "O sacred head sore wounded" and a choral setting of the Albinoni Adagio. And much more, including this:

Jesus just left Chicago and he's bound for New Orleans.
Well now, Jesus just left Chicago and he's bound for New Orleans.
Yeah, yeah.
Workin' from one end to the other and all points in between.

Took a jump through Mississippi, well, muddy water turned to wine.

Took a jump through Mississippi, muddy water turned to wine.
Yeah, yeah.
Then out to California through the forests and the pines.
Ah, take me with you, Jesus.

You might not see him in person but he'll see you just the same.

You might not see him in person but he'll see you just the same.
Yeah, yeah.
You don't have to worry 'cause takin' care of business is his name.

As the bell tolled thirty-three times at the end of service, once for each year of Jesus' life, I thought of all the people who never made it to thirty-three, or even halfway. All those lives cut short. The thought was awful, but by that time there was comfort, too. Earlier I had a vision of Trayvon joining a long line of people snaking its way towards the heavenly gates, a long line of martrys and victims, many of them young. It was a strangely comforting sight, even joyful. They rest from their labors. Nearer the front of the line - not at the start of it - someone turned his head back slightly; I recognized him. It was Jesus.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thanks for that meditation Mark.