Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts: A Long Obedience in the Same Direction

As I have my face to the ground during this Lenten service, the thought crosses my mind, just as you can vaguely hear the priest’s footsteps as he carries the holy gifts: “how beautiful are the feet of him who brings Good News.”

At my first Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, at St. Peter the Aleut, ten years ago this year, I wondered, "how long can I last without peeking?" It's probably only 30 seconds or something, but it seems like a long time. As we were talking about it last week, Krista admitted she always used to peak. Very cute. Even this reminds me that the Apostles were those who had "seen with their eyes." (1 John 1.1) As the Lord said to Thomas, "Blessed are those who have not seen, and have yet believed" (John 20.29).

It is somehow in the singing of the Psalms of Ascent at the Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts that I remember who I am. Each year reminds me that I am a member of the sojourning people of God, at search for our Promised Land in God. I grew to love these Psalms first through Eugene Peterson's fine book, A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.

I don’t know if it is the same melody in all places, but it is that melody which strangely welcomes me to the Lenten pilgrimage in earnest. We are “going up” in the same way Israel's pilgrims ascended up to Jerusalem for the great festivals of salvation. But, even more, “God is the Lord and has revealed Himself.” We are members of his very Body. The fact that our liturgical journey in this particular Liturgy brings us up to partake of the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ reveals that He is the ‘end’ of all our searching.



Blogger Benjamin said...

Amen. The melody of those psalms (be it the same melody or a different melody than your parish) stays with me throughout the year. We were not able to have this liturgy this week, as a snow-storm cancelled our Sunday liturgy and we had no pre-sanctified gifts to partake of, but next week will come. Thanks for writing this.

8:44 AM  
Blogger Rachel said...

I know the melody used at both St. Peter's in Calgary and Holy Res. in S'toon are very similar (just a bit of elaboration to what's done at St. Herman's), but the feel is very much the same. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

P.S. I used to peek too...wonder if there's a kid somewhere who COULD resist :P

12:22 PM  
Blogger The Pleasant Peasant said...

I just saw your E.J. Hughes post. I remember the last time I saw him he was sitting on a bus heading down one of the main streets in Duncan (he's our most famous Duncanite). He died about a week after that. I mentioned his passing to many people, but no one knew who I was talking about. Its nice to see someone else recognize good ol' E.J.

9:24 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

What a lovely reflection - I'm not sure I've ever peeked - but I love the image of you and Krista doing so.

And, what a powerful thought to reflect upon tonight, God willing.

3:54 PM  

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