A week and two days of gathering the faithful: Holy Week and Easter 2014

We in church understand the intensity of the preparation for Holy Week and the Feast of the Resurrection. It is the most intense time in our year. We ride along the crest of a wave like a surfer and hope we land in one piece. Take your naps where you can get them and be sure to eat balanced meals and save the partying until Easter Sunday at 4 p.m. It’s my best advice.

Last year, I made the commitment not to enter a parish church during Holy Week, to experience this time among the folks I minister to. For the first time in nine years I missed singing the Exultet at the Vigil. I really missed it. This year, I decided I would try to weave both experiences. On the street, in the community, and processing down the aisle for the Vigil. Here’s how it rolled:

Saturday, April 12, 6 p.m.
At the MCC-SF church on Eureka Street for the amazing memorial service for Sister Barbi Mitzvah of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. The procession of 30+ Sisters wearing veils of Sister Barbie’s signature black polka dots on hot pink was an amazing sight. The processional hymn was “I’m a Barbie Girl, in a Barbie World.” The love and celebration of a life of service was truly holy ground. It was followed by a procession through the Castro and a party at a local bar. The Sisters have lovingly gathered around Sisters Barbie’s husband as he grieves and works on a life without his husband.

Sunday, April 13, 2 p.m.
The 5th (or 6th) Palm Sunday procession through the Castro. We gathered at the corner of Castro and 18th Street to bless our 300+ palm fronds. We were four Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, The Ducal Council’s Royal Bunny, one Episcopal priest, and two Franciscan friars. Oh, and me. We were streaming up and down the streets, running into bars, restaurants and stores, and being called to from cars and doorways. One of the shop clerks came out and gave lessons on making palm crosses. Many folks said “thank you, I haven’t been to church today” or “ is it okay? I haven’t been to church in years.” Yeah, it’s okay. Hosanna!

Wednesday, April 16, 3 p.m.
Made my yearly required confession. It’s part of my Rule. I live in a friary so it’s really easy. There is no excuse to miss it.

6 p.m.
Tenebrae service at Grace Cathedral with two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. It gets you ready for what is to come Sister says.

Thursday, April 17, 7:45 p.m.
Sister Maejoy B Withu’s 7th Annual Maundy Thursday Procession through the Castro. Joining us were many Sisters and a Lutheran seminarian. Sister teaches about the history of Maundy Thursday practices throughout history. Passersby join us along the way. And the foot washing on the curb was amazing. I wish a had a video of it.

Good Friday, April 18, 7 p.m.
The Sing-a-Long Jesus Christ Superstar at the Victoria Theatre hosted by … (you guessed it) the Sisters! It was a fundraiser for the Transmarch. I took the senior night minister with me, a Lutheran pastor originally from Nebraska. It’s walking the Way of the Cross San Francisco style for sure. So wild and reverent at the same time.

Holy Saturday, April 19, 11 a.m.
Rehearsal for the Vigil at Church of the Advent of Christ the King. A cast of, if not thousands, at least many. Three deacons on board. I was deacon of the Exultet. The candle was a hundred foot tall and weighed 500 pounds ( I know, I exaggerate), so the big, tall deacon carried it. The MC called us the “deacon unit.” 
Out on the street the Sisters were having their rosary procession of queer history. The pictures were amazing. Then they had their 35th anniversary convocation, but I had not factored in the friary Vigil rehearsal. So I was rehearsing and couldn’t join them this year.

6 p.m.
Friary Vigil Rehearsal (after brass and silver polishing and cooking and cleaning).

10:30 p.m.
Easter Vigil at Church of the Advent of Christ the King. Walk “deacon unit.” Sing deacon. Then I got to discreetly slip into the vestry, undress, and leave so I could get a little nap before —

Sunday, April 20, 5:30 a.m.
Easter Vigil at the friary for the Franciscans. Only this time I carried the candle up the rickety back stairs through the kitchen into the chapel. Sing deacon. Then ... naptime. Just a power nap, mind you. Save me some bacon thank you.

9 a.m.
Tenderloin Tessie’s holiday dinner. I help set up tables and decorate and intervene when there needs to be a level head and the fear of a collar.

11:30 a.m.
Hop in the car and head out the Golden Gate Park to the Sister’s 35th Anniversary Easter Celebration. I visited with so many people who are so amazing doing good works for the community. Right before the Hunky Jesus I was awarded a grant toward the pastoral ministry to the LGBTQ community from Sister Roma and Sister Rose Mary Chicken. The Sisters help support a lot of important non-profit work.

3:30 p.m.
Off to the Cafe Flore for the After Birth Block Party put on by the San Francisco Ducal Council to benefit San Francisco Night Ministry, to crown the Royal Bunnies and to help the Sisters decompress. A lot of clergy were decompressing too. I would have danced, but I couldn’t feel my feet by then.

9 p.m.
I was home in my bed. I still can’t feel my feet. The odd thing is, a few people asked if they could follow me around next year. I had better start working out and taking vitamins. And thanking God for for holy people.