April 15, 2011

Is This Some Kind of Joke?

An Asian-American, Native-American, African-American, two white women and I, all Episcopalian, walked into a bar.

What is this, some kind of joke?

No, just the end of our Lenten series at our church.

We spent Lent exploring the connection between social justice and spiritual practice and it was a rich season. One week, someone who has worked for 25 years at a Food Bank founded by Episcopalians shared his daily practice of prayer and action. Another week someone else showed us how the Book of Common Prayer can provide a guide to a life of balance, engagement, and reflection.

The title of our series was “Wine Into Water, Water Into Wine” and in our fourth week a parishioner shared her specific journey of feeling, called out of a guest sermon to take on a project sponsored by Episcopal Relief and Development to raise $5000 for a fresh water well. This project carries the name of Wine Into Water and gave the inspiration for our whole Lenten series.

But it was the last night of our class that led to the set up that started this blog. It was just last night that after church a group of us went out for a beer. We were the rainbow church walking into the Green Lake Bar and Grill.

Elsie Dennis, co-chair of the First Nations Committee for the Diocese of Olympia had led the class that night, introducing 20 of us to a practice of Episcopal and Native American spirituality. She was aided by Jerry Shigaki, recently retired as the Canon for Multicultural Ministry for the diocese. We enacted the four directions prayer. We offered up totems of our life to a central altar. We shared a circular bible study that is now claimed as African, Native-American, and liberation based but grows out of the ancient practice of Lectio Divina.

Afterwards, my pastoral counselor, intern, and the program director for our education center joined Jerry and Elsie at our local pub. By no design and just because it was what it was, I sat back and noticed who made up the crowd who went out for a beer after class. There we were, God’s rainbow people. By no great design or intentionality, here were three women and three men, three whites and three people of color, just enjoying one another’s company. No joke, the face of our church is changing.