We have been celebrating spring in La Misión, in our own inimitable fashion of course!
Our first La Misión Passover Seder was a big hit and our 5th Annual Easter Celebration and 1st community baptism were inspiring. Below are Erin’s comments on both events along with a gallery of photos.
Easter – March 31, 2013
Christ is risen – but what does that look like?
I wasn’t exactly sure what she was referring to – I could see that her eyes had been teary during our eucharistic service. But when Steve, my co-conspirator (those who breathe together, as in the Holy Spirit breathing and living through us all) answered by talking about the pollen really getting to his allergies, I figured maybe I had misunderstood. “Look at all that yellow, in blossom, over on the hillside,” I chimed in.
“No,” she said, fairly firmly. “Spiritual blossoming.”
Oh. Of course. Of course she, the former Christian who has followed in a Buddhist path because of her frustration with the institutional church, of course she was talking about spiritual blossoming while the two of us ministers were busy talking about the pollen and the wildflowers. Of course.
It’s amazing, really, this blossoming, this new life that is in bloom, that is beginning to take over, like mustard in a field.
We had our first baptism yesterday, at Not Church – well, Easter Not Church, which, as Tom pointed out, is sort of Not Not Church, which actually makes it quite positive. The Easter baptism, during the service, was my idea – well, perhaps not mine entirely, as the idea of course was planted in me at some point along the way when I learned that baptisms at Easter were actually a part of the tradition for centuries. But when Carol came to me to ask if Angelina could be baptized at Not Church my immediate response was, “Yes! We will do it during our Easter service!”
But as quick as I was on the response, and as convinced as I was about it, I also wondered – will this be too religious for people? Will this push them over the edge of some institutional religious cliff from which there will be no return? I did not want to be the cause of this, after so much good journeying together has been happening through this thing, this way, that we call Not Church. So I asked a few of the others, those who have been part of this movement from the beginning, what they thought about the idea. “What a beautiful way to celebrate the day together,” was one response. “I’m nervous about having such a religious rite within the context of Not Church,” was another. “How cool!” was a third. So, we proceeded forward. I trusted that we would be able to do it well – to honor the historical Christian tradition of this fundamental sacrament, while at the same time living it out in the context of Not Church. I hoped that trust was not in vain. But I also knew that for the parents, for the child, and for the community gathered, this was the perfect way for us to celebrate together.
After the service yesterday one of the members of the community, Jewish in background, came up to me. “I just want to tell you how beautiful the baptism was – I got teary, and wondered if I was the only one. It was my first baptism. It was wonderful.” Amazing! What gift. What joy. What grace we have received that this is what is happening in our midst.
Another member of the community approached me. “I have to tell you, what you did here, it was really great. You didn’t come on too strong, but you really struck exactly the right balance. Thank you.”
No, thank you. That is my overwhelming response to the events that unfolded yesterday – thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
What better way to celebrate Easter than that? What better way to celebrate resurrection than to live it out, in community, amongst neighbors, alive to what is unfolding, awake, open, receiving and willing to be changed, challenged, transformed. What beautiful gift. What pure joy. What delight.
The traditional refrain, in Christian churches, on Easter morn is practically shouted – Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed! But I wonder, what does that refrain look like, when lived outside that particular liturgical context of Easter worship? Of course, Christ is risen – this is the truth, the reality, that on which we base our very beings. But what does it mean? What does it look like? How does it take shape?
I wonder if it doesn’t look like the baptism of a young girl, in the midst of her community – a community that has vowed, pledged, to uphold and support her in her journey of faith? If it doesn’t look like those folks getting teary eyed at that which is unfolding around them? If it doesn’t look like a sort of blossoming, a spiritual blossoming, that is so fragrant, so beautiful, so spreading itself all over, that it doesn’t bring a bit of mist to the eyes, or a welling up of the heart full of the beauty all around?
Christ is risen. For real. It’s true. I can tell you – I saw him yesterday, eating, drinking, laughing, blessing, playing, serving, feeding, sharing, living and breathing.
Christ is risen indeed.
Read Erin’s Easter Sermon
Passover – March 26, 2013
on passover, equality and jesus
I know my parents read me bedtime stories when I was a kid – but, truth be told, what I remember most were certain tapes I had (yes, they were tapes) each with a particular story on it. My favorite? The story of the exodus from Egypt, led by Moses, on that first passover.
Now that I think back it’s a bit scary, actually – plagues of locusts and frogs, rivers turning to blood, and then, to cap it all off, the death of the first born child of every Egyptian household. It’s not, now that I think about it, really the stuff of children’s bedtime stories.
Except that it was. For me at least.
Perhaps kids are more able to absorb and integrate these things than we adults give them credit for. I do distinctly remember the wailing of the cries as the firstborn of Pharaoh and his kingdom were found dead. But I knew that the ‘good guys’ – in this case the People of Israel – were okay, safe and sound, because they had received the secret code from God before the night fell – to put the blood of a lamb on the doorpost so that the angel of death would know to pass them by, to pass over – not to kill them.
It was the horror of the tragedy that had befallen the Egyptians – even their ruler the Pharaoh – that gave cover and excuse for this exodus led by Moses, the reluctant spokesperson. Moses, who had been encountered by God in the burning bush, and who was now leading the people out of slavery, and toward a new life, a free life, in the promised land. The promised land that was reported to flow with milk and honey, as opposed to the land they had been living in, the land of their captivity which flowed not with milk and honey, but with difficulty, with hard and oppressive labor.
Last night (March 26th) here in our community of La Misión, we celebrated, remembered, this exodus event. I had been looking forward to it since last year when some of us spoke of sharing a seder meal together. For me, it’s something I’ve wanted to participate in for as long as I can remember – this passover meal that I learned of on those childhood tapes, and that I later learned was the basis for the meal that Jesus, a Jew, celebrated with his friends, his disciples, the night he was arrested, the night before he was crucified. This meal that in the Christian church has now come to be called Communion, Eucharist, or the Lord’s Supper.
It was on his final night walking this earth that Jesus of Nazareth took bread, took wine, as he blessed them and shared them with his disciples, and told them to do this in remembrance of him. The meal that was meant to remember a release from slavery, a liberation, a turning away from that which kept them in bondage and turning toward that which would offer them life, new life, new beginnings and a release from all that which enslaved them. This meal that was a celebration of the exodus – an exodus he was inviting them to find not just in remembering the past, but as Ron reminded us last night before we began our seder meal, it is a call for us to live this story ourselves – we are the ones who have been brought out of slavery, we are the ones who have been set free, and we are the ones to continue to work for the Jewish idea of the tikkun olam, the repairing of the world. Jesus often referred to it as the ‘kingdom of God’ – an inbreaking reign where those who were sick were being healed, those who were blind were beginning to see, those who were deaf were beginning to hear, and those who were dead were being given new life.
How sad and very ironic that it is this very meal, done in memory of liberation, that has often been the cause of so much exclusion rather than inclusion, has focused on keeping out those deemed unworthy (who of us is ever worthy?) rather than welcoming all in our worthiness and unworthiness. In our seder last night we included two additional items on our table as reminders of this continued need for liberation – an orange, representing our gay and lesbian friends and neighbors who have struggled for so long to find equality at the table, and an olive, on behalf of our Palestinian brothers and sisters who still live with the dream, but not the reality, of homeland and of freedom.
It is said, in the story of the exodus, that Moses held up his arms and the sea parted to allow the people of Israel to cross through to the other side, to freedom. As a young girl who had listened to this story countless time on my storybook tape, I tried repeatedly, when going to the beach, to hold up my arms and see if it might cause the waves of the Pacific Ocean to part. Though I tried and tried, I never seemed to be able to quite master it. The waves just kept coming.
I live not far from a giant statue of Jesus. He too is standing, facing the waters of the ocean. He too has his hands raised up, as if in blessing.
But I’ve begun to wonder if maybe he is holding his arms up, parting a way through, a way of liberation, a way of freedom from slavery.
And I wonder if he might be inviting those of us who claim to follow him to join him in that act, to raise our hands, even when the waves keep coming. To join in the invitation to be repairers of the world, in helping to usher in the reign of God – where there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free, straight or gay, Palestinian or Israeli, but where all people are welcomed to the table, all people are invited to share in the meal, the feast, this great banquet that is set before us.
Passover and Easter Photos