Monday, March 25, 2013

Palm Sunday Creativity

Those of you who have been following this blog know that my church has been experimenting with a different kind of service, which grew out of experiments with Sunday School and family services and a yearning for more creativity.  We've been using resources from Faith Inkubators and creating our own. Along the way, we've taken turns leading.

Yesterday it was my turn to lead.  The resources that we planned to use were Good Friday resources.  But I wanted also to discuss Palm Sunday.  And as I started thinking about Palm Sunday palm branches and the crucified palms of Good Friday, I thought of that passage from Isaiah chapter 49:  16 "See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands."  I've spent weeks thinking about ways to tie it all together, giving just enough Holy Week story so that people don't arrive at Easter with none of it at all, but not so much so that people who come for Holy Week are bored.

We're lucky down here that we have real palms--REAL PALMS GROWING ON TREES--in our yards.  Every year, as Holy Week approaches, my spouse uses it as a reason to prune the palm trees.  Yesterday, we took a bucket of palm branches to church.

It was great to begin by waving palm branches and talking about the meaning of the Palm Sunday celebration.  We also talked about donkeys and the ways that rulers usually travelled.

Then we talked about crucifixion--with a great picture by He Qi (to see it, go here and scroll all the way down; I'm realizing our picture was cropped). 

I must confess that I didn't talk about the atonement theory of crucifixion.  I'm not going down the path of Jesus is up on the cross because I was mean to my sister--no way, no how.  I did talk about the kinds of executions that Rome administered, that crucifixion was reserved for people who threatened the state, as opposed to say, stoning.

Then we talked about the Isaiah passage and our names being written on God's palms.  We're always on the mind of God because our names are right there.

For our art project, I had drawn 2 giant hands.  Yes, they looked like Homer Simpson hands--or the hands of aliens.  And when I traced them with what I thought was a black marker, the ink had turned green through the years.   Still, it worked for our art purposes.

I had a huge mug of markers, and I asked people to put their names on the hands and the names of people whom they love.  It turned into a beautiful project.

I was pleased with how all the different strands wove together.  I was extra pleased with how everyone responded.  One smart ten year old asked me about the robbers that were crucified with Jesus--I tried to explain the vagaries of translation, while at the same time thinking, I did not see that coming.

It was one of those mornings that I felt a Holy Spirit nudge--but is it towards ordained ministry or Christian education?

Of course, our experiments show that we can be doing both--the divide between Christian Education and Word and Sacrament Ministry doesn't have to exist.

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