Monday, April 6, 2009

Lenten Music at the Mission

(Photo courtesy of
Yesterday afternoon I rode to the San Diego Mission with Linda, Guy, and Carter, and we met Bill and Joan there. The San Diego Mission is the first church in California, started in 1769 by Father Junipero Serra, the first of the long string of California Missions Fr. Serra and others opened up and down the state. Well before 3:00 we entered the wide wooden doors and walked up the unevenly-tiled aisle, choosing pews on the Gospel side. The mission church is very active with daily Mass morning and evening on weekdays and Saturdays and seven Sunday Masses, but only at the noon Mass does the choir sing. With the Lake Murray choir in transition, God worked His mysterious ways to open a door for Kitty to sing with the Mission choir during Lent.

The breeze from the open back doors was refreshing, and the church, shaped like a cross with side doors opening onto the aisle crossing perpendicular to the main aisle, is simple yet breathtaking. With white adobe walls soaring at least two stories high above our heads, the wooden beams were painted with designs that had a slight Native American flair. The wooden pews were far from roomy, seating five people comfortably on each side of the aisle; six were a bit of a crowd.

The program, "Music of the Lenten Season," was sung by the combined choirs of the Mission San Diego de Alcala and St. Michael's Parish, Poway (I was hoping to perhaps see you there, Carmen!). The choir entered in robes -- blue for the Mission choir and deep crimson for St. Michael's. Rather than sitting in the back choir loft, the choirs gathered in the front of the church along with an organ, piano, two violinists and a flutist. The music was gorgeous -- Mendelssohn, Mozart, Handel ("Worthy Is the Lamb" from the Messiah)as well as some gorgeous hymns such as "Come Thou Font of Every Blessing" and "Jesus, Lover of My Soul." The concert lasted about ninety minutes but seemed to fly by so much faster.

As the music whirled about me, my eyes and heart took their fill of the beautiful surroundings which all point to Jesus: the paintings of the Stations of the Cross lining the white adobe walls; kneelers before me, ready to be pulled out for prayer; the slight scent of incense from earlier Masses; candles lit and flickering in the breeze from the open doors; the palms I held in my hand, a remembrance of Jesus entering Jerusalem; the crucifix of Jesus on the cross, suffering for my sin and the sins of those I love along with the transgressions of every single human -- past, present, and future. I pondered these things, praying and worshiping as the music surrounded me, entered me. The Holy Spirit was at work.

So I very much enjoyed our afternoon of Lenten Music, a perfect way to start this Holy Week in which we have the opportunity to walk in Jesus' footsteps through His last week as a human on this earth. I'm very much looking forward in great anticipation the Holy Week activities with Blessed Trinity of Alpine: Wednesday's Seder meal, and then the Triduum services: Maundy Thursday's Communion and Footwashing, Good Friday's Ecumenical Stations of the Cross and Good Friday evening service, and Holy Saturday Vigil. As much as I would love to join them for Easter morning as well before going down to Lake Murray, we're going to only worship with Lake Murray on Easter morning. I also plan to be deep in the Word and prayer this week, fully praying the Morning and Evening Offices of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer as well as Morning, Midday, Vespers, and Compline in The Divine Hours.

Have you any plans for Holy Week? I'd love to read about them -- feel free to post here.

Wishing you all a blessed and deeply meaningful Holy Week as we walk in the final earthly footsteps of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God.

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