(NOTE: I wrote the first half of a great blog last week. I know this, because I remember saying, "This is going to be a great blog." I have no reason to think that the second half would not be equally great. Unfortunately, this all happened within a dream, and the text and subject matter of the blog vanished into the darkness when I awoke. Please offer a brief prayer for the literary brilliance we will never see.)
It is time to move onward.
This has already been, and will continue to be, a week of movement.
On Saturday there was the March For Our Lives, the latest in a growing list of marches. I'm not sure how much walking actually gets done when there are a couple hundred thousand people around, but it's a good image. I grew up in the era of civil rights marches, where the people did march, arm in arm. I also come from the era of anti-war protests, which could turn violent.
Today's marches seem to be a mixture of the two. The marchers are there because they are concerned about a particular issue, and they want to speak out and draw attention to it. But frequently there are counter-protests at the same time and the same place, and the two groups do not always play nicely together.
Marches, protests, counter-protests: they are all about wanting to be heard. They are about not wanting to be silent. They are about circumventing the common political and economic sources of power and using other means to be heard and trying to effect change.
On Sunday we observed the entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem. He was met by crowds of people crying "Hosanna." In the musical, Jesus Christ Superstar, this event also includes a dialogue between Jesus and Caiaphas (based on Biblical writings):
Caiaphas: Tell the rabble to be quiet, we anticipate a riot. This common crowd, is much too loud. Tell the mob who sing your song that they are fools and they are wrong. They are a curse. They should disperse.
Jesus: Why waste your breath, moaning at the crowd? Nothing can be done to stop the shouting. If ev'ry tongue was still the noise would still continue. The rocks and stones themselves would start to sing.
In the Bible, the people shouted “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 21:9) The rabble that Caiaphas didn’t like were the ones who saw the reality of Jesus. They recognized that Jesus was one who traveled the countryside offering words and actions of hope and healing. Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem was their chance to let their religious leaders know that they were looking for something different than what they were getting.
This was their chance to be heard.
At St. Stephen’s, we walked last Sunday morning to Luther Towers as part of our own Palm Sunday procession. We walked to joyfully proclaim our faith in a risen Lord. We walked to humbly proclaim that we are fickle people, shouting "Hosanna: Save us now!" on Sunday and "Crucify" on Friday. We walked to let the community hear that our God is a loving and forgiving God. We walked to be heard in the community.
On Sunday afternoon, 40 of us gathered for worship and a walk of reconciliation and social justice. We walked from St. Stephen’s to downtown Wilmington, stopping to pray at various locations. We gave palm branches to those on the streets. We prayed for organizations that support those in need. We prayed for our church brethren who do the work of the Lord in many ways and in many languages. We prayed for those who suffer physically and mentally at the hands of others. We prayed that the traumas of our past will never again happen in our future. We walked to be heard. We walked to let others hear of our fears and our concerns and our prayers.
We will continue to walk this week.
On Friday we will walk with the cross, and all of the horror and anguish and darkness that it portrays. We will walk with the cross to feel the gravity of Jesus' sacrifice, and God's gift to us. We will hear Jesus.
On Saturday we will walk through our history as God's people. We will walk with the light of Christ. We will walk to hear the stories of our history and our relationship with God. We will walk through a remembrance of our baptism. And finally, we will walk into the light of Easter celebration. We will walk to celebrate our history and our future, and our place in God's creation. We will hear the words of our history, we will hear the words of our baptism, we will hear the words of the communion meal. This is God’s time to be heard.
Our doors are open to all who wish to join us.
Thankfully, we won't be faced with lines of protesters across the street. We will, however, face a society ambivalent to many things religious. People who don't want to hear the message of the church. People who chose not to hear the word of God.
So we must take up the walk that Jesus leads us to in Mark’s Easter Gospel: "Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation." (Mark 16:15)
Walk to be heard. Walk to let others hear the good news that our God is a loving God. Walk to let others hear that we are called to care for those in need. Walk to let others hear the promise that with Christ at our side, all things are possible.
Have a joyous walk.
- Ann Warner
Please join us for Maundy Thursday and Good Friday worship at 7:15 pm, and the Easter Vigil on Saturday at 7:30 pm.
In addition, the sanctuary will be open on Friday, 12-3 pm for quiet meditation and prayer.
Easter worship will be on Sunday, 10 am, with a community breakfast beginning at 8:30 am.