Now that Holy Week has passed a few notes regarding future Holy Week celebrations: Things to do and things not to do ever again.
(i) Palm Sunday: Make it Palm Sunday, as we did this time at St. Peter's, by having the entry be the primary reading and a long crucifixion narrative a "last gospel," read following the post communion prayer and after which the congregation leaves in silence. (about its content see below.)
(2) Try to keep the "insider" language to a minimum... words like Exultet, Triduum and Tenebrae are perfectly fine, but anyone outside the small circle of friends will not get it. The song of joyful liberation, the Three Days, and A Service of Worship in the darkest hour, or something like that at least tells the reader something of what is going on. Every time we give a new secret handshake sort of word to things we make it clear... this is for the insiders.
(3) We have to do something with the texts that are read, rightly or wrongly, that it is the Jews who collectively were responsible for Jesus' death. The fact is they are understood that way. It does no good to have the congregation, playing the part of a Jewish crowd, cry out "crucify him!" The more pious in the congregation will see themselves as culpable, but many will see themselves acting the part of a Jewish crowd.
But more importantly - and let's get this straight - the responsibility for Jesus' execution lies at the hands of particular political and religious leaders who (as often happens) are afraid of any challenge to their power. The Jews did not kill Jesus, the Romans (as a people) did not kill Jesus, not even the politicians and religious leaders as a lump of people killed Jesus. Those are classes of people, and accusing a class of people of deicide is a sure path to the condemnation of a whole group who become scapegoats for the responsible. So we need to stop glossing over the reality that our Good Friday liturgy damns the Jews. Whatever was meant by the text, the reading of the text by Western Christians has added fuel to the fire that leads to Holocaust.
So who is responsible? Well, it turns out specific people following up on assumed responsibilities are. And, strangely, given the possibility that God might require something like this sort of end and death, God has some responsibility in the matter. We are mostly sure that just because something is fulfilling the ends put in place by God's wisdom, the persons directly responsible are still responsible. Pilot can not just wash his hands of the matter. Neither God nor the crowd clear him of some responsibility. As for the Jews, some Jews thought Jesus was the Messiah, others did not. So some Jews were glad to see him go, I suspect. And others became his followers. That is a very far cry from saying the Jews are responsible for Jesus' death.
I have a friend who is convinced that the reason why Jews are accused of killing Jesus is because when Christianity became the state religion of the Roman Empire it was an embarrassment to think that the Roman authorities killed Jesus, so the whole responsibility was put on the Jews as a people. He may be right.
But right or wrong, the point is taken: Whatever the blame at the outset, it is not the Jews as a people who are at fault.
So, this is the last time I will participate in Holy Week Services that intimate otherwise. I will not read, "may his blood be upon us and our children," and I won't read "for fear of the Jews" and I won't say "crucify him" with the weasel out that after all I am playing the part of a Jewish crowd.
I will perhaps be unemployed next Holy Week. That's OK. There are better things to do. We can push the Church to get beyond the early skirmishes with the community out of which we came. Just because the memories of that struggle make it into the writings doesn't mean they have merit as enduring claims.