Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church

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A HOLY CACOPHONY

Posted by Roger Hutchison on

I am the Director of Formation and Parish Life at Palmer and I always look forward to being at church on Sundays to greet parishioners and visitors as they arrive for Sunday worship. Before COVID, I would arrive at 7 AM to put snacks in our classrooms and test projectors and microphones in St. Bede’s Chapel where we would gather for our weekly Faith Forum. These days, I still arrive at 7, but to a very different routine.

I start by placing yellow flags into the South Lawn where we have been worshipping for the past eight or so months. It is a practice, meditative and prayerful, that I have come to enjoy.

I place the first flag into the soil. Walk six feet, then place the next flag. Walk six feet, set another. Then the next, and the next…, all the while, surrounded by the songs of early morning birds, traffic, the METRO train, ambulances, helicopters, and more. It is a holy cacophony of life in the big city.

And then, parishioners begin to arrive. They find a flag, set down their folding chairs. Prayers are said, bread is broken and shared, and the peace is offered with animated waves and winks.

“Through the spiritual practice of evangelism, we seek, name, and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people – then invite everyone to MORE.”

One of the most amazing and unexpected gifts of this time of worshipping outside has been the interaction and participation we have from the surrounding community. Joggers, dog walkers, bikers, skateboarders, medical center guests, and people who are homeless or displaced.

They are drawn in by the crowd of people gathered OUTSIDE of the building. The words of the Gospel customarily contained within the church’s walls are carried on the wind like seeds.

These seeds find fertile soil.

People stop and listen.

We invite them to join us with a kind greeting, the offer of a chair, and a bulletin. Some of them continue on their way, but many of them stay – receiving much more than the physical benefits of a good walk or  run. On this patch of green grass, they find community, hospitality, and Jesus’ love.

“Through the spiritual practice of evangelism, we seek, name, and celebrate Jesus’ loving presence in the stories of all people – then invite everyone to MORE.”

That “MORE” might just be a yellow flag, a folding chair on which to rest, a kind greeting, the palpable love of the One who gives us breath…, all the while, surrounded by the songs of early morning birds, traffic, blaring car radios, ambulances, and helicopters.

A holy cacophony of life in the big city.

An invitation to MORE.

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