Thursday, April 13, 2006

Letter to the Editor

I was going to send this to my campus newspaper, but I've decided not to. Mostly because my teacher is letting me do a Maundy Thursday liturgy in class tonight, so I don't feel like I need to complain. However, I will happily post it here, since this is where I vent.

Starting now...
Reading the SEMI articles on the many traditions associated with Holy Week made me realize just how empty our Holy Week is at Fuller. The fact that we have to look to Jewish, Orthodox and Roman Catholic traditions for some kind of ritual surrounding the most important event in history is pretty pathetic. Yet it is not surprising. I will spend Maundy Thursday evening in class, when I should be in church remembering Jesus' last supper with his disciples, his new commandment of love, and his radical action of footwashing. This particular class had a extra amount of homework due in honor of the passion of our Lord.

Thanks to seminary piety, there were no classes on Friday (normally I would have one - althought this professor would have cancelled regardless). But the rest of the weekend not spent in church will be necessarily taken up with assignments due on Easter Monday. I do not even work for a church - I cannot imagine how busy I'd be in that case - I just like going to the various services that lead me through the passion of Christ (more effectively than any film could do).

The opening story of Greg Hall's piece - "Who died?" - could easily happen here at Fuller. The awareness of Holy Week (and Lent leading up to it) is abysmal, considering we are supposed to be followers of Jesus. We are training to lead people into deeper discipleship, stronger awareness of Jesus' life and what he did for them, and yet we almost completely ignore the week of the year that allows us to most fully enter into his suffering and death on our behalf. If the resurrection hadn't happened on a Sunday, I wonder if we would have class on Easter!

Do we care about Holy Saturday, Good Friday, and Maundy Thursday (a season known as Triduum) beyond the opportunity for sales on Cadbury eggs and Peeps? Do we celebrate Easter beyond ham glaze, egg hunts, and snarky comments about the "tourists" at worship? How can we, as a seminary, not be ashamed of ourselves for ignoring this most important and formative opportunity for entering into the story of our faith?

Prof. Todd Johnson calls Triduum the most intense days of the Christian year. He probably doesn't mean they are intense because of classes to attend and papers to write.

I challenge Fuller to follow the footsteps of many other theological schools and close from noon on Maundy Thursday until noon on Easter Monday. There is simply no excuse to deny Holy Week to students by holding classes when we should be in church. I suppose those of us who care could request excused absences for religious observance, like at secular universities, but that seems a little ridiculous when we're all supposed to have the same religious holidays. Maybe not everyone recognizes the Triduum, but it wouldn't hurt to try it out (seminary is a most opportune time to learn about the traditions of Christianity), and certainly it would be respectful of traditions - which are represented at Fuller - that do fully enter into Holy Week as part of their yearly observance.

It is truly depressing that Holy Week has been diminished instead of enhanced by my being in seminary. Fuller should recognize that Holy Week applies to its students, too - not just those wacky Jews, Orthodox, and Catholics. Then in the future, the SEMI can be full of stories of our own students' Holy Week experiences!


Marshall Scott said...

Sibling, you have a point in general, and for a seminary in particular. Too many folks want to go from the Procession of the Palms to the Empty Tomb with no experiences in between.

I have my own reflections on that at my own blog. If you were inclined to read and comment, I'd be honored.

Caelius said...

I think you still should send the letter. I mentioned to a friend of mine today this situation. (We just had turned off Union...). He said, "Fuller? Fuller?!!"

Christians generally need to spend some time in the Upper Room, at the foot of the Cross, and by the Tomb. But seminarians especially need this time. It's sad that many of your fellow students are torn in this way. A gentle reproof seems necessary.

e. said...

I say we all band together and create a walk through Stations of the Cross experience held on Fuller campus and open to the public Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

That would be fun, involve a lot of artists, reach out to the community, and bring some solemnity and ritual to Fuller's Holy week (or lack thereof).

We've got a year to plan it, let's go!

Delia Christina said...

i'm not in seminary but speaking as one who didn't grow up with this Holy Week tradition, i think you're right.

for the first time, i've attended Holy Week services at my church and i was stunned at how meaningful those services were. i found myself crying (the first time ever!) during our Maundy Thursday service and made the time to attend Good Friday service during my lunch hour.

the opportunity to be humbled by the sacrifice made for us is one that shouldn't be missed or crowded in between appointments or assignments. send the letter!

Stasi said...

Eric, that is AWESOME, and we should do that. Oops, I mean "e". :)

Okay, I sent the letter. We'll see if they ignore me!