Sunday, April 12, 2009

Strange Things on Easter Sunday

Oh my Gosh! Ben wore a tie - no way! Yes it's true, and here is the evidence. Look how surprised everyone is!

Other things happened of course. Glen led the communion service at the end - that's him sitting with the pirate there. Does your church have a pirate? Every church should have a pirate.

After the service was over, a young guy who played the guitar, and was busking on the streets outside the church came in, and we asked him to play. He played, everyone clapped, and we had a good time overall.

Yes, of course there was a message, and it was centered on the story of Jesus walking the Emmaus road with His disciples. The focus was that Jesus rose for the purpose of relatioship, and this desire to relate with us on an intimate level was expressed in the Emmaus Road story.

We also decorated thee place up - banners, Easter Lilies, eggs all over the floor for the kids.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Pine Sunday at The Gathering

I've struggled with Palm Sunday since moving to Massachusetts almost 10 years ago. (June will mark 10 years, and the church will be having a 10 year celebration.) The reason for my struggle was based upon the lack of palm trees in Salem.

It is true that each year the Catholic, Episcopal and sundry other higher church traditions celebrate this holyday with far more specificity, and liturgical preparation than any of my fellow Californians ever did, but they bring in wimpy little leaf segments, which they call palms, and make crosses out of them. Then they typically save the those crosses to burn and make ashes for the following year.

Now this is all fine and dandy, but when we celebrated Palm Sunday in California it was that time of year when the large Mexican fan palms, which decorate the dry landscape of San Diego County are pruned. We would either precede the landscapers, and follow closely behind them, and make sure to gather up dozens of palm fronds. These fronds were often 5 feet across. We would carefully shave the large thorns off the branches, and children and adults would be waving them in the service. Now that's a Palm Sunday!

So this year I thought to myself, "Self." I asked, "If Jesus were to ride into to Salem on Palm Sunday what would we be doing to prepare the road for the triumphal entry of the King into our city?"

I walked through our neighborhood. I looked around as I drove through town practicing hypermiling I noticed that only green trees are the evergreens. I concluded that if Jesus were to ride humbly in on a donkey that we would probably keep our coats on, because it has been so cold, and we would cut down pine branches, because they are the only greenery we have for another month or so.

Well, it might seem a bit silly, but this is an example of contextualizing the Gospel to the times and places we live, and this last Sunday we celebrated Pine Sunday (NOT Palm Sunday!), because we ain't got no outdoor palms here in Salem, and I've not felt so good about celebrating this day for at least ten years.