Well, the word was just delivered that tonight’s Tenebrae Good Friday service has been cancelled because of the blizzard. It’s not a huge surprise except that I know how much Pastor Jeff HATES to cancel church. He was especially anxious not to cancel Good Friday because we had to cancel Ash Wednesday – and losing both ends of Lent feels just awful. But the snow is still falling, the wind is blowing harder than ever, and almost everyone finds themselves snowed in and facing a huge challenge in digging themselves out. And after a dozen inches of snow, we are looking for at least four more inches tonight plus blowing and drifting. So Jeff’s decision was a wise one.
What breaks my heart more than anything is that the music we were going to share at tonight’s Tenebrae service will go unsung and unplayed. Ann LeMar Heide, Holy Communion’s magnificent violinist, was set to play a Sarabande by J. S. Bach (and today is Bach’s birthday) – as well as Spiegel am Spiegel by Arvo Part, which has become a Good Friday tradition at Holy Communion for the last several years. Also becoming a tradition is Tom Hagemann singing my song “The Tears of Mother Mary,” and he was set to sing it again. And the choir was set to sing both Hassler’s “Agnus Dei” as well as music for the last words which I wrote based on “Jesus loves me.” It especially grieves me that this won’t be sung tonight because I wrote it in memory of Marge Anderson, a beloved pillar of our congregation whose funeral was this past Monday. (Jesus loves me was the closing hymn for the funeral.) And of course, beyond the music is everything else that makes the Tenebrae service so beautiful and meaningful – the scripture readings, the sermon (which was to be given this year by Pastor Steve Wohfeil, who is a brilliant preacher) – and the darkness. Without it, Easter is sure to feel very different this year.
I’m reminded of Easter 1986- when I was at the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. I had to miss Good Friday that year because the Opera Center was performing Rossini’s Barber of Seville down in Normal, Illinois. The performance was actually Saturday night (Easter Eve) and the dress rehearsal was Friday night. It was SO weird to be performing opera on such a sacred occasion, and to be with people who did not seem to think that it was the least bit strange. And speaking of strange, going to church Easter morning at my church in Chicago felt SO strange- like dessert without dinner. Follow that with my Easter dinner- which was eaten by myself at the Melrose Diner, a half block from my apartment, and there you have it: the strangest Easter of my whole life. This one shapes up to be perhaps the second weirdest of them all – but at least there was the Tre Ore service this afternoon which helps paint the dark background against which Easter joy will be especially bright come Sunday. And it is now confirmed- that Mr. Noble will be there Sunday morning at the 10:30 service- and that’s enough, in and of itself, to make it an exciting day indeed. (And of course, a bit terrifying as well.)
pictured: This is actually Michael Burkhardt rehearsing for the 25th anniversary concert for Holy Communion’s Casavent Pipe Organ. It turned out to be a wonderful program, highlighted by an organ duet played by Michael and Holy Communion’s own organist, Randy Fischer. Unfortunately, by that point in the afternoon I was already on my way to Rockford for that evening’s Carthage Choir concert . . . and getting a speeding ticket along the way.