Will you spend an hour with me?
This will be something different in my blog, as I don’t think I’ve written about this subject matter before. Generally I write about TV, music, things that are irritating me, but today, I wanted to write a little about something that’s a little more serious; I’m writing about religion.
I don’t know who will be reading this, but I was raised (and still am) an Episcopalian. From talking to a few friends of mine, what I’m about to talk about isn’t a universal thing, as some people I talked to about it weren’t aware of it. I’m fairly sure it’s not just an Episcopal thing, but I am not sure of the scope. Anyway, what I’m speaking of is the Easter Vigil at my church that starts after the Maundy Thursday service and runs through to noon on Good Friday.
This is (as I understand it) based off the Mark 14:32-41 (it’s also in Matthew 26:36-41) passage in the Bible where Jesus talks about “spend an hour with me” in the garden of Gethsemane. What happens is that you sign up for an hour to “be with Jesus” and spend some time in quiet contemplation and prayer. It’s supposed to be symbolic of Jesus’ desire to have his disciples with him for an hour, as he knew he was about to be betrayed by Judas.
I’ve done this a few times in years gone by as a teenager, but this was the first time I had done it as an adult. My wife and I have recently become full members of the church we’ve been going to, and as I feel more at home in it, I wanted to start doing more than just showing up on Sunday for services. So I picked the 2AM-3AM slot for two reasons. First, it was open, and I wanted to make sure there weren’t any “holes” in the vigil. Second, I remembered that I wanted to pick times that were NOT convenient for me, as it made the vigil seem more real or important. If I had picked the 8PM Thu night slot, or say the 10AM Friday slot, it would be pretty easy to do, but 2AM-3AM is not terribly convenient.
I drove to the church pretty tired, as 2AM is about when I go to bed each night anyway. When I got there, I saw that the vestry and parishioners had done a fabulous job in making the designated room look pretty. There were plenty of candles and flowers all around the place, plus some nice quiet guitar music playing – a really serene nice place. It was also terribly dark, and I believe the room was set up to resemble a darkened garden which is what Gethsemane would have been had I been there. Anyway, I was already tired, and going to a room that was set up to resemble a darkened garden at 2AM is something one would think would be enough to make one sleepy. But that was NOT an issue for me. Once I sat there in the room looking at the makeshift altar, it was quite quite invigorating mentally. Sure, my body was tired, but there was no doubt in my mind I’d stay awake. Two of the other fellows who were on the same shift as me brought what I presume to be bibles, and read from them, but I brought nothing. My understanding of the service is that Jesus asked his disciples to stay with him, and not read, or listen to their iPods or something. I feel my attention should be focused on the vigil, not something else.
So I sat. And prayed. And thought. And remembered something our priest had said at some point in the previous couple of weeks. He said that a lot of folks wonder how God talks to people – it’s not like the clouds part, and you get a big booming voice talking to you – or even a silent one in your head. God doesn’t always speak in the classic, or even understandable sense of the term. But I believe he did last night. Towards the end of my hour vigil (which was more like an hour and twenty minutes, I didn’t really feel like going after I’d been there for 60 minutes), I had said my final prayer, and thought about the love of my wife and how that is a great gift to me, and the love of God. It was at that point that I got an overwhelming feeling of love wash over me, and I took it as God speaking to me saying “I love you”. It was quite a powerful feeling. This was just at 3AM and there was no way it was a drowsy sleepy dream thing, I was wide awake when this happened, and I almost busted out in tears when it happened. It was quite the powerful moment.
That’s what I took from this home with me. A renewed sense of God’s love, because I spent an hour in a church at 2AM being quiet and just “being with” Jesus. It was quite the event for me spiritually. I will definitely be back next year, as next year I will have a daughter, and I full well expect that everything will be different out of my eyes, and I’ll be interested to see how my spiritual side is changed being a father.
Oh, and one other cool thing my church is doing. At the end of the vigil today (as I write this, it’s slated to end in 40 minutes), some of the congregation will be taking the various plants that were used in dressing up the room and planting them around the church. There’s two huge piles of dirt out front there which I assume will be used in the event of planting. I thought it was a cool thing, that they’re not just going to toss all the plants in the trash.
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That’s an inspiring story. I understand exactly what you mean by God “talking” to you.
I used to go to church every week when i was young and then, once i stopped going i still said my prayers. I think i’ve lost my faith since then, a gradual thing. Partly due to my own development of beliefs that clashed with what the church teaches (i am/was Catholic) and also due to events in my life that lead to continued questioning of my faith.
I think i still believe, although i really am not sure anymore. If people ask me, i say i do. But, the overwhelming doubt is there and i know of nothing that anyone can say that will make that go away.
We’ve got an Easter Vigil at my Catholic church too, though I’ve never gone to it. What I do however is attend an hour of Eucharistic Adoration from 8-9 every Monday night. It is a good hour to pray and reflect on life. For more on Eucharistic Adoration:
Interesting! I’m happy for you, Joe!
Personally I’ve been raised without any religious traditions, whatsoever.
I’m not baptised, I’ve never been to church, except as a guest on weddings, funerals, baptising of friends’ children etc.
Despite this background (or perhaps because of it?) I was very interested in the studying of various religions, when I was at school. Not, that I couldn’t do this at home, on the contrary, my parents are very openminded and did never try to stop me from being interested in religions. They just weren’t interested themselves.
I’ve studied the bible a lot (I’ve studied other religions as well) and I think I know quite a lot about the theory of the christian faith.
But (and this is important for me!) the more I got to know about christian theory, the less I felt conserend about it. I truly believe there are questions that we (the human race) never will get a certain and exact answer to. We’ll never know for sure how big the Universe is, we’ll never know for sure how the first life on earth began, we’ll never know for sure what comes after death and I really don’t need to know those answers! I think many people are looking for hope and something to trust in, when they turn to God and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I just don’t need it. I felt the bible (and other religious books) was written to answer these questions for those of us, who couldn’t live with having them un-answered.
I’m happy for all people who find joy and happiness in their trust in God, just let me be happy without it!
I like the words of the bible. The christian theory is a lesson in love and respect. I dislike the way many so called christians live their lives. They’re just as greedy, backstabbing and intolerant as many others. This kind of hipocraty is the worst thing I know.
If there’s one thing Jesus teaches us, it’s to love and respect all people, never mind if they fit into the “general desciption” of a “good” christian.
I have many christian friends that’s trying hard to live their lives as good christians! I respect them and they do the best they can! But it’s hard! There is so much of greed, envy and intolerance in the human nature.
I have many non-believing friends that I consider to be “better” christians (in the spirit of Jesus) than those who claim to be christian.
Oh shit, I really can’t stop writing about this! Sorry! What I wanted to say with this very long comment is this: If we all respect each other we don’t have a problem. As it says in the bible (pardon if I make a bad translation from Swedish to English) “The one who is without any guilt, may throw the first rock” If we all thought about that, there wouldn’t be many rocks in the air!
If you find this hard to read, excuse my English! It’s kind of hard writing in a foreign language.
Thanks and God Bless to some of you and Take Care to all the others!