We do not want to be arrested
There is, we discover late and often,
an arresting quality about your word to us.
We do not want to be arrested or even pause,
for our days are planned out.
And certainly we do not want to be arrested
by the authorities,
not for speeding,.
not for trespassing,
not for shop-lifting,
Surely not for truth-telling.
Minister to us in our cowardice and timidity,
Set us to be as bold as you are true,
to meet the authorities who resist and arrest . . .
our ancient mothers,
our old convictions
powerful ordaining committees,
and last, even, city hall.
We bid mercy for those of our faith
who this day are arrested for truth-telling;
Your word is truth, and we live by it,
frightened or bold,
free or not,
in the manner of His own life among us.
On reading Jeremiah 26
March 7, 2000
from Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann, ed. Edwin Searcy, p. 92
This past week has been more upbeat poems, in anticipation of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. I was having difficulty finding a triumphal poem to use for Palm Sunday itself, however. So in part by necessity, I started thinking about having a more emotionally ambivalent poem. I held off posting until after church, though, in case I got inspired by a hymn or anything. Interestingly, at the opening of the service today, Pastor Hamilton talked about how we would be going through a lot of different emotions during the course of the day's service.
So why are Christians so often so joyless? I think, because too often Christians have only enough
-William Sloane Coffin, Credo
I walked into church right around start time (well, nearly 10:00; we seem to usually start a few minutes late, and today was no exception) and the (admittedly not large) sanctuary was almost full. This was particularly striking because last Sunday (beautiful weather + DST time change) there was almost no one in attendance. Apparently Palm Sunday is a big deal here. Mrs. Macleay said the kids process and stuff.
A big deal member of the church died last Tuesday, and Pastor Hamilton did the first verse + refrain of "It is Well In My Soul" on the piano. I don't have the musical terminology, but I felt like we was doing a weird vibrato thing with his voice when he was singing and I wasn't a big fan.
During the Prayer of Invocation he talked about how we are a journeying congregation, and we're all in different places. I liked that.
Before the Prayer of Confession, he said that one thing he had particularly noticed this Lent was the abundance of times Jesus commands "awake."
Unison Prayer of Confession:
Father forgive us, for more often than not, we know not what we do. Amen.
There was a Baptism today, the first I've been to at FCCN, and it actually wasn't an infant baptism. David, Anthony, and Sandra. Pastor Hamilton asked them their ages (because usually they do infant baptism) and David's 34 and Anthony's 14 and he guessed that Sandra was 10 and she said 7 and he said "You will be 10 shortly" and then she said 8 and he said, "If you don't know how old you are, how can I know?"
When he did the actual baptism, he wiped water on their foreheads (center, left, right) for "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
Then they did the Baptismal Prayer in what looked like a big huddle; the pastor called it "laying on of hands," which struck me as an odd phrasing (since I've only ever heard that in a faith-healing context).
After it was all over the pastor said, "I'm not going to carry all three of you" (and earlier he mentioned "the baby walk" that usually happens after a baptism) but that they would process up and down the aisle.
Hymn: "Come Be Baptized"
Complete with handsigns for the refrain -- "come be baptized in the name of the Father...come be baptized in the name of the Son...come be baptized in the name of the Spirit...come be baptized in love"
Message: The Trial of Jesus of Nazareth, based on the four Gospel accounts
They did a lot of it by playing a pre-recorded tape.
Jerusalem: pop. 40thou, 5x as many during the Holy Days, crammed into 1 square mile
Jesus entered through the Lion's Gate on a donkey, to the delight of the crowd. Cue: ho-sana hey zana ho . . . Oh, JCS :)
A number of witnesses were called up, to verify the Gospel accounts.
centurion: I don't do physical pain well, so I definitely squirmed during a lot of the opening of this, as the centurion described how he had expected that they would just lash the skin off his back and send him home to die, as per usual, and how he nailed him to the cross to speed things up -- either you lash them to the cross or you nail them, whatever.
We go Exhibits 1, 2, etc. -- dramatic readings (complete with somewhat over-the-top music) of assorted Bible passages.
Mark and John, despairing versus peaceful, which one is accurate? Centurion says he isn't really sure, wasn't paying all that close attention.
Then we get testimony from Matthew. ‘Does that describe what you saw?" "No. Nothing can describe what I saw." // "Who do you say Jesus is?" "Truly?" "Truly." "The Son of God." // This felt a bit quick to me.
[Sidenote: The version they use consistently uses the phrase "gave up the ghost," which is jarringly anachronistic to me, though it is admittedly interesting to be reminded of just what "give up the ghost" means in its original meaning.]
Pontius Pilate's wife: She opened with bitching about Jersusalem, but then we get into the dream we had. "You don't want to know." "On the contrary, I would very much like to know." After that intro I was a bit disappointed that the dream was just: I saw it all happen. After they get through the questions of what all happened, the questioner assumes she returned to Cesaria (pron. Sez-uh-REE-uh, unlike my usual Suh-ZAR-ee-a). "I never saw Cesaria again," sje said. She had yet another dream, telling her to go to Galilee. "Who do you say Jesus is?" "I went to Galilee, didn't I?" Very nice line.
Joseph of Arimathea: Follower of Jesus, and yet a Sadducee. Why? Inclusion of dramatic reading of the Jesus and the moneychangers scene. Joseph says that the Sadducees taught retribution (an eye for an eye, etc.) and that the soul dies when you die; when I heard Jesus preach about forgiveness and the soul becoming one with God for eternity, I knew there was a better way.
Q&A about Joseph arranging for Jesus' burial, ending with: "What is the disposition of the tomb now?" [An oddly phrased question, I thought, btw.] "The tomb is empty." Again, very nice line.
Pontius Pilate: I honestly don't remember where in sequence he came as I didn't take notes on him. He was all, "I work for Rome, keep the Jews in line, nobody cares about them, Jesus who?" The guy did a fair job of conveying that Pilate's facade was faltering as the questioning went on
Mary Magdalene: Linda Carlson did this one and did a fine job. She also probably had the best script. She was very firm in her answers, but not over-the-top. She says she was there when Jesus died and that the disciples ran away. "And you did not fear for your life?" "He was my life."
She said it took 6 or 8 soldiers and 2 horses to move the stone into place on Jesus' tomb.
Each narrative that was quoted at her she affirmed was true. When questioned as to how they could all be true she said, "Trust not the storyteller; trust the story." Which, okay, I'm not entirely on board with, but I get what they're getting at.
Recessional Hymn: Were You There (an African-American spiritual, adapted and arranged by the United Methodist Publishing House)
Passing of the Peace again!
The receiving line took forever. Pastor Hamilton shook hands with some of the people in front of me, but hugged me. He said that I and a minister were in the audience, so he sure hoped he got his facts right -- but that he had done quite a bit of research to ensure that they were. I heart my rep.