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Sunday, April 5

Today’s Reading: Mark 14:1-Mark 15:47

This morning in our faith community we will be reading two entire chapters of the Gospel of Mark – chapters 14 and 15 – during worship. This will replace the sermon. Instead of reading Scripture in its usual manner, however, we are doing the lengthy passage using 14 readers to bring the passage alive. As I pulled together the dramatic reading this week and assigned roles to individuals ranging from Jesus to Pontius Pilate to Peter, something power happened inside of me. I was reminded of a story I heard told in seminary by one of my professors who had spent time in a Greek Orthodox faith community. A young person who had just arrived in the community came to the priest one day and said, “Father, I don’t know if I can stay in this faith community.” “Why?” the priest asked. “Because of those times during service when we say one of the creeds. Those creeds contain things that I personally don’t believe. So I’m thinking I should find a place to worship where I believe everything they ask me to say.” “My friend,” the priest said, “you’re confused. The creeds aren’t about you. They are about the community.” And a lengthy conversation ensued between the individual and priest that unpacked the priest’s assertion in a way that only folks from an Orthodox tradition can completely understand. So why am I talking about creeds this Palm/Passion Sunday morning? Well, the experience of hearing the Passion Story read - not by one voice but by many - reminds me that the Passion Story is not about us individually as well. The stories are narratives that make the most sense when they are connected to – and through – faith communities. And here’s why that’s important. Over the years I’ve seen so many folks wrestle with the Passion Story exclusively from an individual perspective. They spent their time deciding which parts work for them and which parts don’t. They hold onto those parts of the story that work and abandon those parts that don’t. Sadly, by reading the story in isolation, they make the Passion Story about themselves. I believe the Passion Story is much larger than any one person’s likes and dislikes. Experiencing that story in community reminds us of that. Today, instead of leaving you with a question like I often do, I think I’ll leave you with a challenge. And here that challenge is: this week fight the urge to make the Passion Story simply about you. Seek out a community experience of the story – a Palm/Passion Sunday service, a Maundy Thursday service, a Good Friday service, a Great Easter Vigil, or an Easter service - and be reminded of the larger dimensions of the story. It may lead you to uncomfortable places as you are forced to confront dimensions of the story with which you are uncomfortable. But correct me if I’m wrong here, I don’t believe our faith was meant to leave us in places of personal comfort. Til next time…

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