Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Palms to Passion Sunday

Liturgy. From laiturgia...the work of the people. So on this Sunday, Palm Sunday, we begin our liturgy with work. I carry garbage bags out to the street. And the girls start placing the hymn books and Bibles we have  brought back from SPSA in the pews. Everyone is picking up old papers, empty coffee cups. Hope is running the vacuum. And Arcadia  and I sweep up under the balcony where the new plaster has fallen after the rains. If we love this place as we say, want others to know it, we must care for it. Be ready for Easter. 
After cleaning, the next part of worship begins. I recall other Palms to Passion Sundays we have celebrated here. Greg playing his berimbau as we chanted Hosanna. The liturgy that Katherine and Jed and  I created basing the order on the Gospel story itself as told  by Stephen Mitchell. As referenced by Barbara Lundblad in her lecture at Union last Thursday. Today Katherine and Andre are at the Chelsea Church. Philip is at work at Michalski. And Amy is on spring break. We will make our own music. I lead us in a chant  of Hosanna. We pass out palms that Ray Bagnuolo of Jan Hus has given to us. 
Our table today has palms, ashes from Ash Wednesday from Advent Lutheran’s palms, and pieces of our building. 

Instead of preaching, I lead the congregation in a kind of lectio divina, a guided reflection through the Palm  Sunday story. What do we see? Hope, the crowds in Egypt, in Libya and beyond gathering, yearning for freedom. Hugo, the dusty small town where he grew up.  What does he feel? Hot. Arcadia, the processions in Granada. Ana, a small Puerto Rican town.  
The words that captured me were humble, prophet, city, turmoil. I saw a celebratory  parade down Broadway, the canyon of heroes, ticker tape, Jesus in the back of a convertible. The crowds reaching out. And a few blocks away, no one knowing. The pain,the anguish, the turmoil of the city. 
I reminded the people that when Matthew was first read, Jerusalem lie in ruins. People read of this triumphant entry in a city in ruins. All its riches, treasures, sacked and taken to Rome. I lift up pieces of our building. remind the congregation that we returned not to a magnificent restored sanctuary but to ruins. That many of us bear hurts, disappointments, frustrations. And it is into this turmoil that we welcome Jesus in this year. 
We take up our offering. I read the Passion story. Remind them, as if they need to be, that there is no resurrection without crucifixion.  Holy Week has begun. Our session gathers to discuss our concerns. Ana shares her cafe con leche. As we close up the church, lock the doors, we place a cup of coffee and a palm on the steps of the church. 

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