Thursday, April 17, 2014

Communion on BART

(left to right) Intern Lacey Hunter, Elder Tom Pack, Rev. Dawn Hyde

Things that were awkward about this morning:

- an incredibly tight clerical collar
- standing on the steps of BART holding elements (bread and juice)
- the eyes that stared at us

You see, today is Maundy Thursday. It is the day when we remember Jesus' final meal with his disciples right before he was betrayed, beaten and crucified on a cross.

At Mission Bay Community Church, we celebrate the sacrament of communion every Sunday because we view it as a vital part of our identity. We are fed so that we can feed the world. We extend the fellowship of communion after worship during dinner. Breaking bread with one another provides the space through which we get to see and know each other as children of God.

Per my post on Ash Wednesday, I feel pretty convicted to be in public space more as a pastor and to hold space as holy. So today, Lacey and I broke bread in the very public space of a BART station (Bay Area Rapid Transit) and offered God's love through this sacrament to those on their morning commute.

What we realized is that there is a lot of baggage around communion. People were much more willing to come forward and receive ashes (symbolizing their mortality) than they are to to come for communion (symbolizing new life). Interesting...

As Lacey and I reflected afterwards, we recognized the church's responsibility for creating a lot of baggage around communion. Centuries of rules dictating who is allowed to receive communion and who can bless and give it. The long stares of people passing by made me wonder how many were considering if they were really welcome to partake in the feast. Shouldn't this happen in church? Have I confessed recently? Can females do this?

I stand by the importance of us holding sacred space and pointing people back to God. I realize many people don't know what this day means or why it would even matter, but perhaps having two women in clerical collars holding the symbols of bread and cup sparks some interest. I like to think there will be a (small) bump in google searches for "communion," "bread and wine," or "who were those crazy women outside of Powell St. BART holding bread?" One can only hope :)

Communion is meant to be powerful. Jesus shared this meal right before he suffered and died. But, I don't think it is meant to portray power plays. I get communion and you don't. Or I can serve it and you can't. Pretty sure when we play that game we are missing Jesus' point.

Jesus charges us in his words at the table to love one another. "As I have loved you," Jesus says, "love one another." (John 13:34-35)

It can be uncomfortable to spread God's love out in public. But it can be pretty awesome and faithful, too.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Lenten Prayer Station

Lent is the 40 day period leading up to Easter when we consider the passion story of Jesus. It is a contemplative time when we yearn for God. 

In worship at Mission Bay Community Church we are participating in a lenten prayer station. 

During our time of confession, we consider the ways we have intentionally or unintentionally wronged each other or God. We write down those confessions and our burdens on a piece of paper and then bring them forward to the communion table to nail them to the cross.

The nailing is symbolic. The sound poignant. Nails going into wood reminds us of the violent truth that Jesus was nailed to the cross - crucified - by the brokenness and sin of the world. 

Each Sunday, we will nail our prayers of confession to the cross and then on Easter we will let go of those confessions and the cross will be cleaned and covered with flowers. 

Life, death and resurrection frame the rhythm of our lives and our faith journeys. By participating in this lenten prayer station, we are remembering how Jesus takes our burdens from us and washes us clean. We practice dying to our sin (to the burdens that we carry) and rising to new life in Christ. 

Side story:

I often have these creative ideas, but then have no clue how to actually make them happen. This idea in particular came in conversation with our intern Lacey as we considered what to do in worship to liturgically and physically process Lent. 

I admit I thought it would be easy. Grab two pieces of wood, put them together and wa-la! Creative prayer station.

Well..let’s just say it’s not that easy. This is where my husband Tim really becomes my knight in shining armor. He listened patiently to my idea and then asked a few questions:

(1) How do you plan to attach the two pieces of wood into a cross?
( 2) Do you want it to stand upright?

As soon as he started talking about circular saws and a special rod to create the perfect stand I knew I was way out of my league. He then took the lead. 

We went to an awesome recycling store and recovered wood:

Tim cut the wood, sanded it, and made the two pieces fit perfectly. 

He created a stand so this hefty cross stands on it’s own. 

He even helped me think through the types of nails we would need and how and where to hammer in the sanctuary so we didn’t harm anything or anyone :)

This lenten station has been really cool because it has brought in more of our senses. 

We use our minds and hearts to write down our burdens and sins.
Our hands to nail.
And our ears to take in the sound.

It's one way we are making our invisible faith more visible. One way we are making our faith particular, concrete, involving us in our physical world here and now.