Friday, April 6, 2012

Palms to Passion Sunday 2012


There are some days that start as if the universe has stripped a gear. Like you are out of sync with the cosmos in some way. Or maybe it’s just April Fools’ Day.  85Copy’s closed when I go to get the bulletins. There’s no one around when I first get to the church. Wesley and Antonia are still on the steps and it’s after 10:30. Later, Rafael will help me move them, Andre looking on, shaking his head. I think thet're incapable of following the guidelines you've set up, he says.  I’ve left my cell phone at home and Dan has left for church already so I’ll have to cab home and back to get it. People are waiting and ready When I get back, Amy has just arrived. 

The service is a little shaky gettig underway. It’s an adaptation oif a sevice  Katherine and I came up with years ago in which the liturgy moves with Jesus thorug Holy Week with Stephen Mitchell’s telling of the Gospel as its text.
We read of the triumphant entry, singing Hosanna.  I remember other times, processing around the sanctuary follwoing Greg Beyer with the berimbau. Jed Distler’s amazing creation with Katherine of the Great Round Dance of the Cross. When in thr narrative Jesus prayas, we pray. When they sing a psalm, we singca psalm (118) When he breaks bread with hsi friends, we break bread. 
When we reach the time of  reflection, I’m starting to feel more at ease. I ask eveyone to raise their palms, wave them. I ask them  I ask what it feels like to be on a march? At a rally?  For Stephen, there’s the excitement of the crowd, the chanting. For Hope, the feeling of togetherness. And for Rafael, who works securirty, the stress that comes from having  to watch everything. That’s what the front end of this was all about. Palm Sunday was not a religious event. It’s not like Jesus said well next week is Easter so we need something to kick off the week....maybe something special for the children....
Check this out....Palm Sunday was primarily a political event.....what were the issues?
  • The Roman Empire occupying their country, back when occupy was only a negative word.
  • Taxation without representation, money going to support the Empire
  • Support of local leaders for the empire, the ethnarchs, the Herods, who ruled over their own people on behalf of the Romans.  
The event itself was many things...symbolically a mocking of a Roman victory parade, with #OWS cutting humor style. Imagine signs, chants, down with the empire, Rome go home..Some were hoping it was the start of the revolution...and Jesus was the guy who was going to be the leader...there bits of evidence  here and there in the Gospel that seem to indicate an underground movement with coded signs, this man with a colt, that one carrying a water jug.. why do we do it this way? How did Palm Sunday and Passion Sunday get mashed together? Palm Sunday used to stand on its own, then you woud have to go through a long week of church services. As more and moe people stopped doing that, those who set the liturgical calendar wanted to make sure that we don’t just jump from one high to another. Palm Sunday straight to Easter. Pablo Richard, a theologian from Costa Rica, says that his problem with North American  Chirstiansis that they  want to jump too quickly to the happy ending.  We need  to remind peopl that to get to Easter, you have to pass thru Good Friday, that there is  no resurection without crucixion .... so we jam it all up into one day, two liturgies, one of the Palms, one of the Passion. Can’t we have just one day to  enjoy the feeling that we might win? 
In the middle we find the story of the woman who shows uo and anoints Jesus’ head  with costly  oil. Though not named, from medieval pop culture to Jesus Christ Superstar she’s ben associated with  Mary Magdalene . The hardcore ideologues complain. Jesus is clear that the poor will be with us always. Not that they should be, but given human nature, they will be. There will always be ample opportunity to care for them. But Jesus will not be with us long. What she brings is extravagant loving....and that is to be honored...
Don’t follow leaders
Watch the parkin’ meters
said Dylan..long before #ows. When did Jesus get that he  wasn’t  going to be the new Che Guevara? Last Thursday night, here, Cornel West said that  No one should want to be a leader, leader’s get killed...instead we should be lovers...who love the people relentlessly...
People aren’t necesarily ready for that kind of leadership. look how fast people get pulled dowh by their own..Jesus gets himself betrayed by one of his own. And yet he embraces the moment and goes with it. 
This week is a journey yourself to it...pass through the valley..see what might be on the other side..We finish with these words from the Gospel of Thomas:
The disciples of Jesus said to him, "When is the kingdom going to come?" Jesus said, "It is not by being waited for that it is going to come. They are not going to say, 'Here it is' or 'There it is," Rather, the kingdom is spread out over the earth, and people do not see it."

Jesus said, “I stood at rest in the midst of the world. And to them I was shown forth incarnate. I found them all intoxicated. And I found none of them thirsty. And my soul ached for the children of humankind, for in their hearts, they do not see. Empty did they enter the world, and again empty they seek to leave the world. Now they are intoxicated. When they shake off their wine, then they will have a change of heart.

This week as we gather in our circle there are no Alleluias, just a simple Amen. 
Hope and Ana teaching Sunday School. The Session meets to review the events of the week, discuss Melissa's proposal.

We leave palms on the steps. Across the course of the aftrnoon, they are all taken. 
The Thirteen Grandmothers
Late in the afternoon, I come back for  Jane’s showing of For the Next Seven Generations. It’s a film producedand directed  by Carol Hart (Sesame Street, Free to be You and Me...) about the 13 indigenous grandmothers who have come together to pray for eace, pray for the eath. The scenes shot at El Santuario de Chimayo bring me back to that special place where, as they say, the veil is thin. Two grandmothers form the Mohawk nation, Iroqouis Confederacy, sing native songs of blessing. 
Wesley has been listening. Now that’s interesting, he says.

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