I was impressed with the participation of our church people in some new offerings for the Easter Triduum this past week. When one takes intentional preparation for the message of Easter, I believe the “Christ is Risen” takes root much deeper in the soul. In my view, it’s like tilling the soil for the Gospel seed.
There were some very particular concepts I wanted the Maundy Thursday Car Washing, Cross Pilgrimage, Tenebrae, and Communion Food Truck to instill in the hearts of participants and those reached by the activities. If you did participate in them, I hope you’ve reflected on them a bit, and I’d be interested in hearing your impressions. Here’s what I took away from them:
At the car wash, yeah: what I hoped would be an updated and enjoyable opportunity to show loving service to one another and to the community was indeed that. Buster at the Clear Water car wash was something like the owner of the inn with an Upper Room, and made preparations for us beautifully. Clear Water even sponsored our venture, with around 20-30 tokens that gave us 15 minutes of car washing power. With this generous gift, we washed one another’s cars, enjoyed fellowship, and real communion. It is something simple and gratifying to do something kind for another—and even if the action is mundane, like washing cars or feet, it is sacred. I drove this point home as I walked through the stalls with frankinscence smoking, which I jokingly referred to as “air freshener.” In my view an action can be humorous and profound at the same time—as I hope we all agree this coming Sunday on “Holy Humor Sunday” this first Sunday after Easter. I took mental pictures of church people swarming around cars with beach towels, giving a shiny washed car a nice drying. Everyone was served. Everyone served. Just in case you wonder what the Kingdom of God is like, you got a little glimpse of it at the car wash on the mother road.
Our Cross Pilgrimage was designed (both of these new offerings were designed) to affirm the kinesthetic element of our learning and spirituality that needs all the opportunities it can get in our heady Protestantism. I had hoped this would provide an opportunity for participants to get a taste of pilgrimage and secondarily a taste of making a silent and symbolic witness to the busy streets we walked along. Campus was buzzing on Friday night, and I’d estimate 500-1000 people took notice of what we were doing. At least one didn’t seem to appreciate it (a person in a muscle car at the intersection of Delaware and 11th gunned his engine and accelerated to 60-70mph on a city street as we passed—and though I’m not sure it was “aimed at us,” it seemed to be.) Others received the sight with gratitude. I saw several pointing to us and nodding , and a couple friendly honks and thumbs up. To me, though, this was an exercise in balancing a devotion between inner spirituality and outward witness. Obviously it was both, and for my part, I thought it was poignant to read and hear the narratives of the stations of the cross while we read, as well as the experience of feeling the weight of the cross on my shoulders and carrying it with my son. The metaphorical meaning that that act of devotion can take on is limitless—and for me the experience of the weight on my shoulders called to mind personal struggles with which I am dealing. This kinesthetic act of devotion seemed to exercise my body such that I had no jitters or excess energy to release during the Tenebrae service, and my mind could focus in on the story in a way that I’m usually too wrapped up in mental orchestration of the service to enjoy. I found that when the end of the service came and I led the congregation in “Were You There” I was able to fairly effortlessly hit all the notes—I think the physical activity of the evening had something to do with that. I was “stretched out” and that is a good thing to be on Good Friday, when we call to mind the fact that our savior was also “stretched out.”
For the second year in a row, we also had a presence at the K-Dub food truck festival, but this year it obviously fell on Holy Saturday. Once again, a small group of us gathered and enjoyed the sunshine and experience of “putting ourselves out there” as we offered communion to passers by. The responses varied from complete apathetic refusal to perplexity to surprised gratitude. Carole gave communion to someone for the first time. Many were drawn to the opportunity to give something back in our basket that we had prepared to receive offerings toward the Kendall-Whittier Food Pantry. Though our “reach” is fairly limited (I think we served around 10-15 people besides ourselves) the impact is unknown and given over to God. As John Wesley thought of communion, so does our church: it is a “converting ordinance,” that has the potential to hold Prevenient Grace, or “all the drawings unto the Father, that if we yield to them, increase more and more.” It was a good end to the preparations for Easter. Thanks to those who made it all happen.