Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Palms and passion Sunday


It's Palm Sunday

It’s Palm Sunday. Dion has arrived early to help me separate the palms. Like shucking corn, he says as we strip the palms together.

In the sanctuary, Dzieci is going through one more rehearsal of their Passion. When they are finished, they will join Dion and I on the steps and begin to pass out palms to those entering the church and passersby. An Orthodox Jewish man stops and says, about the waving palms, we do that on sukkot…. And looks somewhat puzzled at the Dzieci dressed in 1930’s shtetl clothes.
We do that on sukkot

The Passion play is based on the gospel of Matthew, but with names and words put back into Hebrew. Jesus, eg, becomes Yeshua, Judas Yehuda, Mary Miriam and the disciples Talmudim. It begins in semi-darkness, the cast rising from the congregation and coming forward while singing Hinay ma tov umanayim, chevet achim gan yahad…How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in harmony (Psalm 133)….Jesus wears a white prayer shawl and throughout the telling of the story, the role of Jesus will shift and change. Men and women, young and old. As will the betrayer.(s). The one who was Judas will become Jesus and vice versa. When the Last Supper is shared, the cast moves through the congregation with matzoh and wine. (So fitting on the day before Passover…). And when the play is ended, when the tomb is left, there is a simple scroll of scripture, like  Torah, wrapped in the prayer shawl and left on the communion table.

It’s very much like a story told within a community. A story that has been told and experienced over and over again. Archetypal. And yet unique and particular to each community that has lived through it. Dzieci evokes a particular time and place. But by being specific, opens up the universal.

Leaving, palms still waving
As Hinay ma tov is sung once more, slowly, quietly, the Dzieci lead the  congregation out the doors and onto the steps and sidewalk. We make a circle. Palms once more waving. People stop, ask for the palms. When the Dzieci leave and go back inside and West-Park people gather for a meeting, we decide to leave the palms on the steps.

Our congregation meets to deal with the outcome of the big deal not going through. We have to vote to authorize expenditures from the manse sale for ongoing expenses, something we did not want to do. For a period of sixty days so that we can solidify the strategy for the congregation in terms of congregational revitalization and revenue enhancement. Two work groups will be formed. To report back in 2 to 3 weeks. We’ve got a heavy DIY load ahead. A season of rebirth to come. 
we made a circle

When I look outside after the meeting, all the palms are gone. I think of the circle that began back on Ash Wednesday, the people coming in form the streets for ashes from last year’s palms and now to receive plans that will become next year’s ashes. I love the people coming  up to take a palm, perhaps never  quite sure why themselves, but connecting to a need to connect to something.

It’s Palm Sunday.

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