Should we talk about the weather?
My wife kids me that I write about the weather too often in my “Ponderings.” I’ve grown a little self-conscious about it over the years and have worked hard to ensure she has little ammo to rib me with on this score.
But the winter we’ve had—not just here in Bethlehem, but in other Moravian centers like North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin and the mid-Atlantic—merits a few good words and a solid “good riddance.”
As I write this in early March, there are still piles of snow on the ground. On a trip to Winston-Salem last week (where I figured the weather would be warmer and I’d escape winter for a bit), we were greeted with a serious ice storm. The term “Polar Vortex” entered our everyday lexicon as the upper mid-West was plunged into sub-zero temperatures on what seemed like a weekly basis.
The depths of this winter—and its determination to stick around well past its calendar ending on March 21—makes me welcome any sign of spring with open arms and a gladdened heart. And while the weather may not be cooperating, the church calendar and a recent IBOC project lead me to believe we’re getting closer.
With Ash Wednesday right behind us, we’re in Lent—that holiest of seasons in the church year. For the next six and a half weeks, we prepare for the resurrection of the Lord. We prepare for the day (hopefully a sunny Sunday) when we can proclaim “The Lord is risen. The Lord is risen indeed!”
Between now and then, congregations meet for special services, join in additional devotions and Bible study and reach out to their communities. One church has developed a Lent-long devotional based on the Moravian Daily Texts. Others bring in special music, songs of atonement and hope and finally celebration.
For Moravians across the Northern and Southern Provinces, services for Holy Week hold special meaning and importance in their faith. From Palm Sunday to Good Friday (and sometimes even into Saturday), congregations follow the final days of Jesus through the words of the Gospel writers and the songs of the church.
Readings for Holy Week guides those services. Readings collects passages from Matthew, Mark, Luke and John and combines them with pieces of hymns to punctuate the words. (For more on Readings for Holy Week, see page 31.)
In late December, we at the IBOC began running low on the most popular edition of Readings. We currently offer three editions—the “regular” edition, with the readings and the words to the hymns; a large print edition of that; and an edition with the readings and the actual music for the hymns. Needless to say, the edition with the music in it is by far our best seller.
So when we realized we were almost out (despite having tons of the other editions in stock), we needed to reprint. We were able to resurrect the computer files for the core design; however, the music was a different story. As often happens with archived computer files, the music image files were in a format that none of our machines could still read.
Fortunately, in addition to being a church communicator, I am a computer pack rat. My basement is home to nearly a dozen old Apple Macintoshes from the past 20-plus years. And wouldn’t you know it, one of them still had a program that could read and convert the files!
The reprints arrived successfully last week. We did make a few tweaks—fixed some graphics and an error in the pagination of the initial printing—but these new copies should feel right at home with their earlier printings.
As we worked on the reprint, I had the opportunity to read through the whole book. Despite my best efforts, I have so far been unable to attend an entire week’s Holy Week services, so this was my first time all the way through.
To me, it is a wonderful way to read about Jesus’s last days before his death and resurrection. The story comes alive in a spiritual way; the hymns interspersed with the readings give additional meaning and life to the words of the Gospel writers. Reading through it made me look forward to Holy Week services and Easter. And it made me realize that even in the depths of winter, the promise of Easter outlined in this book provides a ray of hope for spring and new life.
As you travel the path of Lent this year, I invite you to read a copy of Readings for Holy Week even before Holy Week gets here. I think you’ll find inspiration and peace in the way the book guides us from Palm Sunday to the Resurrection.
And reading it early is a reminder that spring—and new life—is on the way!
From the April 2014 Moravian Magazine