Readings: Genesis 43:1-15; Psalm 73; 1 Corinthians 7:1-9; Mark 4:35-41
Tonight we had what the seminary calls a Community Eucharist, where the entire community (faculty, students, staff) are invited to attend a worship service, usually followed by a community dinner. Tonight's Community Eucharist was hosted by the Missionary Society. Everyone was invited to dress in outfits from their native country or from countries where they had been on mission or immersion trips. I wore my longyi (pronounced lunj-ee), a traditional skirt that I received from the Diocese of Hpa-an (in Myanmar). The people who dressed up were invited to be a part of the procession. The entire service was student-led, and the international students played a huge part in it. We had readings in Haitian Creole and German, prayers in Creole, Filipino, Spanish, and French, and we sang a song in Swahili (I think), Spanish, and English. It was also fun to see the many kids, some of them who had dressed for the occasion. The service was full of energy and joyful noise :o)
My friend Sara, a fellow senior, gave an awesome sermon, and I got to take part in it! It was an interactive sermon on Mark's Gospel. She had everyone close their eyes as they listened to her read the Gospel again. While this was happening, 13 of us got into position. When she finished reading, the 13 of us froze where we were; we had recreated the scene where the disciples were waking up Jesus in the boat! Then Sara invited people to come up and look at us while we remained in our positions. This process is called tableau, "a pause during or at the end of a scene on stage when all the performers briefly freeze in position." I didn't get to see what everyone did, but some of us were despairing, some were bailing out the boat, and some were trying to steer the boat while Jesus looked calm. I wore my yellow galoshes and leaned over the edge of the boat like I was sick. After we unfroze, we returned to our seats and Sara invited the kids to come sit up front (so, naturally, I joined them). I don't know how she managed to focus on her sermon--there was so much going on!--but she did a great job. She told the kids (and us) that when things get difficult we need to remember that it's okay because Jesus is in the boat with us; when things get rough we are not alone! I found this really comforting. At the end of the sermon Sara prayed while the 13 of us got into position again. When everyone opened their eyes again, they saw us positioned how we imagined it would be if we knew that Jesus was in the boat with us. I don't know what the others did, but Amy, a fellow seminarian, and I had our arms around each other. It might sound a little cheesy, but people seemed to like it. I'll have to keep this technique in mind for future sermons. Part of me wishes I could have seen the tableau, but I'm glad I had the chance to be a part of the scene--it made it more real for me.
me in my longyi (picture taken in Myanmar in 2011, when I had long hair)