Tuesday, 8 May 2012
Easter at St Michael and All Angels Episopal
As I mentioned in an earlier posting, Ric did convert to Roman Catholicism while at the University of Missouri so, when he arrived in Concord, California and into a house on Bonifacio, he walked down to the Roman Catholic Church to worship. However, as he found the theology there quite conservative, he moved a few blocks north (and closer to where he lived) to St Michael and All Angels Episcopal. That was where he worshiped until he moved down into Oakland. When I became a part of his life, I worshiped there as well.
In 2005 Ric had me fly down for Easter thus I experienced the ritual of that season with Ric and at a beautiful place. The weekend began with a service on Maundy Thursday a part of which is the intoning of the names of the recently departed (and Ric included the name of a mutual acquaintance here in Toronto who had passed a week or two before).
Concord is one of the many bedroom suburbs in the San Francisco Bay area. Much of it is upper middle class but there are pockets of the indigenous as well. St Michael and All Angels is a large church with nice facilities so it had been approached by the operators of a program which provided meals for the needy. Some of the neighbors were outraged (especially the people who lived immediately across Bonifacio from the church who erected a huge wooden fence in order to keep those 'unwanted' out).
On Good Friday the 'Stations of the Cross' was enacted on the spacious lawns. Fourteen symbols of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection were placed around the property and the congregation proceeded from one to the other while the celebrant (the Rev. Leslie Nipps) read the appropriate scriptural passage and somebody from among the gathered people carried the Cross. Before leaving a 'Station' the bearer passed on the burden to somebody else in the congregation. I had noticed a fellow - there initially for the 'soup kitchen' program - so, when my turn ended, I passed the cross to him. I could see that he was quite moved.
Saturday everybody gathered back at the church in order to decorate it for the Celebration of Easter. I have been involved in many 'work parties' in churches and have always found them to be fun events.
Waiting in the vestibule were the elements prepared for the congregation gathered on Easter.
As usual on Easter, the sanctuary was nearly full and the social hall quite crowded afterwards.
While the adults were sipping coffee/tea and munching on delicacies, the children were out on the back lawn searching for Easter eggs.
That Easter was - for me - one of the most memorable that I have experienced.