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Omaha, Nebraska, United States
I am more and more convinced that most congregations die from a staggering lack of imagination. Let's change that. Let's imagine a creative future with God and each other together. Drop me a line on email or leave a comment if you have thoughts on God, Jesus, congregations, the church or whatever.... I look forward to our conversations.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Holiest of Weeks

When you're a mission developer, as opposed to a residential pastor in an established congregation, religious holidays are often weeks of less work, not more. This makes sense in one way, because as a mission developer I spend most of my time with people who are not Christian, or at least people not encumbered with Christian religious traditions, so any religious "holy-day" is for them--at best--a secular holiday.

As a mission developer no one asks me what kind of palms we have on Palm Sunday, what the worship "plan" is for Good Friday, or even who is going to be the volunteer to get their feet washed this year on Maundy Thursday. Rather, people are just going about their week, and they know they have some kind of family obligation on Sunday, but they hope it won't take too long because "I have so much to do before Monday." So for many of the people I deal with, Easter is a time to be with family for awhile before the regular pace of life creeps back in. The kids, of course, will find this a time of chocolate at grandma's house...but other than...not much to this holy week stuff.

Now, back when I was a residential pastor in an established congregation, this holy week stuff was crazy fun. Worship on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Big celebrations on Easter Sunday were being rehearsed and fine-tuned. We had special Bible studies, fasts from food, and times of prayer and spiritual direction. It seems like we saved up all our religiosity for the entire year to be spent on this one week. (One Monday after Easter, I actually admitted myself into a ministry mental health clinic...after I spent 24 hours immobilized from stress.)

The stress of Holy Week is way less as a mission developer, but I wonder...
if there is something to the idea that love is our mandate
if there is something to washing the feet of another in a world of shoes
if there is something in the purple that stands for the royalty of Christ
if there is something in the barrenness of an altar that is now a tomb
if there is something in the old, rugged cross
if we miss out on hearing "Father, forgive them, they don't have a clue."
if bury ourselves if we forget the darkness of Friday is God's promise to live
if we never hear of a God whose love is so deep, so wide, so free...
What might we have lost?

May your tables be full, and your conversations be true.

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