Monday, April 18, 2011

Field Trip to Safeway

"What? This is a joke, right?" But, Pastor Megan was not joking. Tonight, at Community of Travelers, we were going to walk to the Safeway across the street and hand out palm leaves for Palm Sunday. Safeway. A place where I regularly shop for groceries. A place where non-church people were.

The concept was this: we would explore what it may have been like for Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem (which was today's gospel). To be honest, I always pictured his ride on Palm Sunday to be one of triumph. I thought he was welcomed by huge crowds, cheering, singing, and waving. I also thought his followers proudly stood by his side (except at the crucifixion, when they backed away). I didn't really consider these folks to have the same human fears and concerns that I have.

So, we headed out into the cold San Francisco fog with a collection of palm leaves and a cross, and we walked across the street to the Safeway. The big turning point was when we got to the entrance. I assumed that we would stand near the door and offer a palm leaf to anybody that approached. Instead, we walked through the entryway and wondered throughout the store. A place where, I expected, we wouldn't be very welcomed.

In that same way, Jesus rode into town through a gold entryway reserved for royalty. I'm sure there were folks who were upset he had the gall to do that. Although he had followers that greeted him, there were a bunch of people who didn't like him, and they wouldn't have been very happy to see him show up. There were also probably a bunch of people on the streets of Jerusalem who were going about their normal routine- shopping, working, etc- who were interrupted when this guy rode through the street.

With that in mind, it's likely that he encountered some of the same stuff we did. Some people looked at us and wondered what we were doing. Some people frowned at us- we were bothering their normal Sunday shopping routine, or maybe they didn't like us flaunting our beliefs. Some people thought it was neat and gladly accepted palm leaves. Some just ignored us or stayed away.

As a follower in the group, I had a mix of emotions. What if the manager (an authority figure) came over and was angry? Who would stand up to him or soothe him? I hoped that Pastor Megan had a plan and had thought long and hard about what we were doing. What if people around us got upset? Who would calm the crowd?

It makes me wonder about the followers of Jesus. Surely my concern about the authority figures isn't unique, except the punishment back then would have probably been physical harm rather than just being asked to leave a store. Did that stop people from following Jesus? Or did they believe so strongly that they overcame their fear? There were a few in our group who didn't want to be seen by somebody they knew. Jesus's followers were human, too- I bet there were a few who worried about being judged by their peers if they were seen. Some in the group were excited to be sharing Palm Sunday with folks at the store. Something tells me there were a bunch in Jesus's group that fell into this category.

This was Pastor Tommy's last CoT service before his sabbatical. We'll miss you, Tommy!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Easter Vigil April 23 at 7:30 pm

The Community of Travelers will celebrate Easter with the Great Easter Vigil on April 23 at 7:30 pm at St Aidan's- There will be NO service the afternoon of April 24.

Monday, April 11, 2011

"Unloose Him"

By Connie Thomas

Tonight's Community of Travelers service focused on the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. We sang the Sarah Mclachlan version:

If you're unfamiliar (like I most certainly was), here are the words:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.

Where there is injury, pardon.

Where there is doubt, faith.

Where there is despair, hope.

Where there is darkness, light.

Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much
seek to be consoled, as to console;

to be understood, as to understand;

to be loved, as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,

and it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life.


What a simple, yet perfect and beautiful prayer. We were each given the opportunity to write this prayer, or the most meaningful parts of this prayer for us, on a strip of cloth. It may look short, but let me tell you- when you're trying to write this with a pen on cloth, it takes way longer than you think it will. I went into the activity thinking that every word was precious, so of course I would write every word. But, by the end, I had written a shorthand version of the prayer that an outsider may think is just a stream of unrelated words after each other.

The coolest part was we then tied the cloth to a part of ourselves, and had others in the community untie them. The idea is that, in tonight's gospel, Jesus says "unloose him" when he asks his followers to untie a man Jesus had just risen from the dead. Yeah, you heard that right- risen from the dead. It was a crazy story. Anyways, my favorite part was that, apparently, the verb "unloose" in Greek is the same for having your sins forgiven. So, we were given the opportunity to be "unloosed" by our fellow church family members. Or, we could choose to untie ourselves. I preferred the symbolism of asking somebody else for help. Now that the activity is over, I kind of wish I had written the prayer in a prettier way so I could hang it up in my apartment...

It's also worth mentioning that Beamer was back with us again tonight. We missed you, Beamer!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Can You Do That In Church?

By Connie Thomas

Tonight at Community of Travelers, we had a new voice- Pastor Gary led the service. He is a retired Episcopal minister who has been working to further deepen his faith since his retirement.

The gospel tonight was about the man that was blind and Jesus gave sight. We explored the gospel in a brand new way, though- we read the passage 3 times from 3 different translations. Between each reading, we discussed what we each picked up from the passage and what we thought about it. It was pretty neat- the idea is for us to personally explore the gospel, rather than have somebody tell us what to think about it. What I loved most about it was, for the most part, each person naturally focused on a different aspect of the story. It helped me open my mind to the perspective of others in the room.

What totally threw me off tonight was when Pastor Gary offered up a Buddhist prayer during the service.

*record screech*

What? Isn't that, like, against the rules? I was taken aback until I remembered that the whole point of Community of Travelers is to not have rules. Of course, there are basic traditions we must follow, otherwise it's not really a church service. Aside from that, though, anything goes- we welcome different viewpoints and ways to think about things. So, Pastor Gary took his experience of exploring his faith, and brought it into our hearts. It was both intense and wonderful. It was a good reminder of the gifts that being open to new experiences can bring.