The past three evenings Reconciler has had Passion Masses, led also by the The Community of St Francis. The one of the three synoptic passion naratives were read each night. (For my thoughts on why do this and have services every day of Holy Week see this post.)
On one level nothing extraordinary happened. I didn't find them particularly moving services. We kept things fairly simple, one hymn, and only one reading (besides the Gospel) and the Psalm. We did not preach. Yet focused in this way and in simplicity I heard the passion narratives differently. Knowing I was hearing all three at once I was hearing the points of connection, the divergences , and the idiosyncrasies of each Evangelist. Hearing all three passion narratives in succession of three days in the context of the Eucharist without a sermon, connected up the Eucharist to the Passion in a subtly profound way.
As I here attempt to give some account of my experience of these three services I am finding it difficult to put into words what happened within me. I feel closer to the passion of Christ. Closer to the apostles as they were puzzled, then bewildered and then frightened. Jesus appeared to me both as more human and more divine than I had heard before in my reading of the Gospels. Jesus when put the question directly about his being the Messiah, neither deny's it, nor will he himself say that he is the Messiah. All three Evangelist have Jesus say something like "You say so." in answer to that question. This seems so human and yet a resolve and calm that has different quality to it.
The other significant part of the services was that two of the priests of the community of St Francis and I con-celebrated at the altar. I had never done something like this, at first I felt a little out of my element. But it was cool leading a service with those who don't share and having differing liturgical actions from what I am use to.