Sunday Amens had a long run here on PJ; but because God is laughing on high apparently according to the Psalmist, I thought it would be a good idea to take the Sabbath to do some humor.
Dan Thompson inspired me to change the title of this post. While we no longer can find the heart of Wal-Mart like those South Park kids, I thought it would be fun to do a re-make of some classic 1990’s commercials.
From the makers of Hatorade, we have a campaign for N T Wright, rather than “Like Mike,” how about “Sometimes I dream that he is me, I dream preach, I dream reach, Like Wright, if I could be like Wright, if I could be like Wright. I dream I preach, I dream I reach, Like Wright, I could be like Wright.”
So, the first Sunday of each month is Communion Sunday at the local United Methodist congregation where I work. Nothing out of the ordinary usually happens. Well, this week, something extraordinary did happen.
So, normally there are two lower elementary aged (kindergarten to second grade) children [a brother and sister] who attend Sunday School, but are unable to attend worship. The last time we had communion Sunday, however, they partook in the Eucharist for the first time. It was a heartening thing to witness, and a moment to be proud. Today, they slipped in early enough that I decided to abandon my duties on the projector slides for a second to encourage them to take Communion again, by going in the sanctuary before going to their classroom where they usually play games. The Brother, M1 was more than eager to take communion, as he skipped his way in through the hallways and into the sanctuary. The sister, the youngest of the two, however, was quite reluctant, and at first I did not know why. Then, as I watched her reactions as the pastor was addressing the church, I noticed something. The pastor said, this is Jesus’ body, broken for us. The sister gave a squeamish look, closing her eyes and twisting her mouth in disgust. Then, the pastor said, this is Jesus’ blood, shed for us. Again, she gave a look in horror, and then I realized why she did not want to join us in the sanctuary. As we were in line for communion, she whispered to me, “I do not want to drink anyone’s blood.”
There you have it. A reminder from a five year-old child. Sometimes, we as Christians like to forget how horrendous our Lord’s being tortured and executed was. In the mind of a child so young, the taking of the pastor’s words literally may seem funny to adults, but on another level, the girl’s comment may represent a few questions that normally go unasked by your average congregant. Does salvation have to be so violent and bloody? Is the death of anyone necessary so that others may live? What does our partaking of the Lord’s Supper mean for those who suffer torment in the here and now, anyways?
I think this girl raises some good concerns, concerns that many feminist and womanist theologians have been asking for years, pertaining to the violent nature of atonement. What would a liturgy look like that included a nonviolent approach to the crucifixion (the cross as an anti-torture/anti-terror event)?
The last Sunday in the liturgical year is what Christianity refers to as Christ the King Sunday. The Gospel text this week in the lectionary was Luke 23:33-43. It is actually a perfect fit, if one sees the death of Jesus on the Cross as an enthronement, the penultimate example of how the Triune God reigns in the concrete history of this world (the ultimate demonstration lies in the subsequent resurrection of Christ).
In order to emphasize the importance of this day, I decided to get a little creative after an inspirational trip to a comic book store. Thanks to my awesome blogging partner in crime, Optimistic Chad, whose actual super power is to be more optimistic than any person in the history of the world.
Amen! I believe in you! I really couldn’t tell if Chad was really a youth pastor in that video, could you? [insert: witty sarcasm, but out of love]
Early in the week , I had decided the children’s sermon I was going to give was going to be about hats. That’s right. Hats. As usual however, I made some change ups to children’s sermons provided by my resources, out of necessity and creative difference. First I showed the kids a bike helmet, and asked, who would wear one of these? Is it safe to ride your bike without a helmet? The correct answer would be no. Second, I showed them a camouflage cap (which could be used for hunters as well). I explained that soldiers were called upon in times of emergency (ideally), such as to engineer reconstruction efforts after a natural disaster like an earthquake or a tornado, or to defend the country when it is attacked. Then, lastly, I took out of my bag the last “hat” I had, which was the crown of thorns (from the altar). I explained Jesus did not have a bicycle or chariot awaiting for him. He did not have an army to lead, a crown made of jewelry, or the best robes money could buy. All he had was the Word of God. His crown is made of thorns because it was his job to suffer and die on the cross for us so that he may reign as one king of all. Then I ended it with prayer.
Perhaps my coup de main of the day was the idea of Superhero Sunday for the kids. First of all, understand there has been a self-imposed moratorium on using the DVR. We had begun to be to rely way to heavily on it. So this was the second week of not using any of the DVR players. The first part of my lesson plan included explaining that it was Christ the King Sunday, and also Superhero Sunday [works perfectly for me since, Clement and Athanasius see the Logos as some sorta alien power manifesting itself into a Clark Kent-like human appearance ;-)]. Next, I informed the class that we would be playing a game of Green Lantern outside, but first they had to learn to find the Bible passages they were going to use as oaths. I, of course, had the Black ring, since I was going to be the villain. The class was evenly divided into two teams, since they chose the same colors, one team green, the other blue. But here is the kicker; after they listened to the Dark Knight soundtrack (Hans Zimmer classical music which rocks!), I explained to them the idea of power rings and the colors associated with them. Blue was for hope, and the team who had blue rings learned three passages about hope. I told them but without action/doing something, hope was nothing. This was where the Green rings came in, and I said that taking action without any hope (like having our hope in Christ the King) was useless as well.
The game was like a modified version of t.v. tag, only we pretended to fly and had rings to tag people. Once a person was tagged, they had to find one of the three Scriptures related to the ring oath, and read it aloud, and then subsequently, the Lantern and his/her teammate were “it.” and we would start the process over again. The game ended in a tie, and I, the Black Lantern of Deconstruction lost.
To conclude the service, we went back inside, and each of the kids prayed and made sure to mention the Thanksgiving holiday coming up.
All in all, a great day.
In ode to Superhero Sunday, Pillar’s Original Superman