Thursday, March 18, 2010

We are Going Back to Occidental Square

This Easter we will not be gathering in a building to celebrate Jesus' Resurrection; we will be coming to banquet with the poor and disenfranchised in the center of the land where Seattle first began: Occidental Square.

To read about Laurie Bunnel's experience last year, read / communion in the city below:

Our second annual Missio Lux Easter in Occidental Square is coming up. We share a banquet in the park with anyone who comes to celebrate the Resurrection. One of the highlights for me last year was serving communion to the many homeless and disenfranchised individuals present, as well as some of the over 100 Missio Lux volunteers.

It is not the usual kind of place for communion; a concrete park surrounded by bars in the middle of the Pioneer Square district in downtown Seattle. As one of my friends commented, "Well it isn't exactly high mass." Yet for those who received it, especially those who have not felt welcome or empowered to step into a church, it was a Holy experience.

Naturally, the Holiness was lost on some people. A few thought we were handing out samples like CostCo. One woman walked by, grabbed the communion cup of grape juice before we could stop her to explain. She evidently thought it was some kind of shot glass of alcohol as she tipped her head back and said, "Thanks I really needed that."

However, most of our interactions were profound. Two men were talking among themselves and said, "I don't think that is for us." When we invited them to the table, they were incredibly moved that we would serve them communion as they had not had an opportunity to participate in the Eucharist for a long time. One was also thrilled to receive a free Bible we were passing out. He carefully tucked it into his worn backpack as he gave me his expert critique of recent Bible translations.

What became very clear after explaining communion many times, in the pouring rain by the way, was that communion tells the gospel story so simply and so well. God, out of love, coming to earth so we would know Him through Jesus. Jesus out of love offering himself (blood and body) on the cross in our place so that we could be in right relationship with God. And finally, what we were all there to celebrate that Easter morning, the Resurrection, Jesus raised from the dead - having overcome sin and death. Through communion we remember and celebrate Jesus until he comes again.

One Asian man I shared this with said in broken English that he understood, he believed and could he take communion? Some people just cried. My friend's dad, who is in his sixties, was there volunteering after making a decision to follow Christ just weeks before. It was an amazing privilege to serve and share in his first communion as this tough guy teared up as he grasped the meaning of the Eucharist.

We are looking forward to the surprises and blessings waiting for us this Easter! Hope you can join us!
(Photos are from last year's Easter Celebration.)

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