Monday, August 25, 2014

Congregations That Worship in Glass Houses . . .

(Photo: Rev. Erik Christensen)

We busted out of our big Neo-Gothic church building on Sunday and gathered for worship on the Boulevard. (Or, to be more precise, beneath the trees on the median alongside Logan Boulevard in Chicago, during the weekend-long "Boulevard Fest" sponsored by our congregation.)

I've pulled out my guitar to play with the choir at a lot of church services at St. Luke's Lutheran Church of Logan Square, but I have to admit that it was a slightly different feeling to be outside of the familiar cocoon and out in front of the crowds of people heading to the farmer's market.

Running through the music before worship, arousing the interest of
 a passerby. Who are these cool people? (Photo: Lora Salley)

I've decided to embrace this new feeling of exposure and try to learn some lessons. I put them under the rubric "Congregations that worship in glass houses . . . (complete the sentence) . . . . "

(Thanks to Rev. Erik Christensen and Lora Salley for the accompanying photos.)

"Congregations that worship in glass houses . . . 

(Photo: Rev. Erik Christensen)
(1)  . . . get a whole new feeling for the basics.

There's nothing like celebrating communion out under the trees.

(Unless it's feeling the drops of water during the Remembrance of Baptism.)

I wonder if this isn't the way it was meant to feel.

(2)  . . . find a new kind of intimacy.

(Photo: Lora Salley)
I somehow had thought that being out in the open would make us feel very isolated as individuals.

But the feeling in that little grove was actually one of a new kind of intimacy.

St. Luke's is a place that is known for friendliness; many people remark on the way everyone hugs everyone else during the passing of the peace.

Who knew that being out in nature would help us feel even closer to each other?

(3)  . . . find out just how cool their musicians really are.

(Photo: Lora Salley)
St. Luke's is known for some amazing musical performances.

But when you're out in the open air, it's a lot harder to produce that "wall of sound."

Luckily, we have a band that was up to the task.

(Watch out for the kid playing the red guitar -- he's going places!)

(Photo: Lora Salley)
(4)  . . . get to show off their pastor.

It's always fun hearing Pastor Erik's great sermons when there are new listeners.  It kind of allows a vicarious enjoyment, as if one is hearing him preach again for the first time.

On Sunday, we had a lot of new listeners!

I'd like to know what they were thinking.

(Photo: Lora Salley)
(5)  . . . are exhibitionists (of a good kind)!

The most fun part of Sunday was the sensation of being very public about our shared faith.

Someone once said to me, "It may seem like you are doing other people -- people you don't go to church with -- a favor by keeping your own church-going behind closed doors. But if it's something that's positive for you in your life, why wouldn't you want others to have a chance to know about it?"

 So . . .
Stepping out and worshiping on the Boulevard? 

Any time. 

Sign me up!

(Photo: Rev. Erik Christensen)

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For the members of this congregation,
who will continue gathering as a people of God in a new place,
that today will mark not only the end of an era
but also the beginning of new opportunities for worship and service.

(See A Prayer for St. Luke's (Annotated and Illustrated) )

On Palm Sunday (April 13, 2014) the Logan Square Ecumenical Alliance (LSEA) hosted its 3rd annual public witness at the Logan Square monument from 12pm—1pm. As in previous years, we gathered to celebrate the very public and political nature of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem and his call to people of faith to resist the values of empire and seek instead “the kingdom of heaven.”

(See What do we want? SALVATION! When do we want it? NOW! )

I believe when Jesus broke the bread and poured the wine and said "Remember me this way," he was much more interested in encouraging us to keep having conversations -- conversations that really matter -- with others . . . and finding ways to be in relationship with our neighbors  . . . all the while reminding us "never underestimate the power of food"  . . .

(See Get Outside Your Comfort Zone and Have A Conversation Today (Welcome to the Ministry))

 An important part of spreading the good news, I believe, lies in suggesting how it might be possible that this universal, un-grasp-able power that we call "God" may actually find its expression in the midst of our lives through plumb lines, flies, and prophets like Ron and Occupy Chicago.

(See Flies in the Ointment and Plumb Lines for Israel)