Partners in Mission:
In the worship I attended on Sunday the congregation, like many across NT-NL, participated in a palm procession and then, at the close of the service, listened as the passion story according to St. Matthew was read. As those appointed to read the story did so, I must admit my mind wandered for a moment thinking of how countercultural this experience was. To sit, in community, attending to the reading of scripture.
Our world today prides itself on instant and deeply visual entertainment. Just this weekend in Arlington, Taylor Swift drew over 200,000 people to three sold out concerts. Swift is an amazing artist, songwriter, and performer. And while I have never attended one of her shows, I have seen enough to know they are well crafted and intended to keep the audience engaged in our TikTok world. And many churches have learned from this and have worship experiences that, while not achieving the level of a Swift concert, approximate the experience of a rock concert.
My point in this isn’t to say that one way of engaging is necessarily better than another. Both have their place, and — and this is the important point — both are needed and valid. And frankly Easter is a great time to pull out the stops of music and worship. But before we get there, we need to take time to listen to the story again. To sit quietly with these words, passed on to us through millennia, that tell us of our God doing the exact opposite of what the world would expect. Our God, who could call down legions of angels, instead suffering as a thief on a cross. The victim of the empire desiring to maintain power and control. Ultimately going to the one place we all will go, death.
Then, having taken all that in, we can rejoice because we know that death is not the last word. I encourage you to engage the liturgies of the church this week. To volunteer to help, and to pray for your leaders and actively encourage and support them. For all who will lead the church this week I give thanks, and you are in my prayers. A blessed Holy Week to you all.
In Mission Together: