I've often wondered if church should look more like a 12 step meeting. I've wondered what would happen if, like addicts at an AA meeting, we started our services by confirming that we don't know everything. I've wondered what would happen if instead of ironing out all the wrinkles for Sunday morning we began showing up as our naked broken selves. (Quick note: I don't endorse naked churchgoing. . . that's just gross. . . I do, however, endorse the shedding of pretense.)

Anyway, these thoughts, and others like them, have been bouncing around in my head for the better part of the last 15 years. It's part of why I feel closer to God in the ocean than in a church pew. It's part of why I feel closer to God when I'm talking to cussing teenagers on the streets of San Francisco than when I am talking to most Christians about salvation. Maybe I'm just a little too California to feel comfortable in churches of cold stone, or too postmodern to believe in a single theory of atonement; maybe it's because my role models wore flip-flops instead of long, flowing robes. . . I don't know!

I usually feel quite happy living in the in-between spaces. . . finding both beauty and struggle everywhere. In the run-up to Easter, however, I began to notice something new in this process: a distance. In this case, my philosophizing was creating an emotional wall. Instead of contemplating the meaning of Easter, and participating in the celebration it represents, I was gearing up to play the passive observer of my own faith journey. Ever the sociologist, I was keeping my critical eyes on the social dynamics, the pomp and pageantry, but neglecting the heart of the experience.

Everything changed on the Mount of Olives. Surrounded by trumpets blaring, guitars strumming, drummers drumming and voices singing, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Hosanna in the Highest!” I was overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. I had to set down the clip board in my heart and take it all in. I had to become a participant, opening myself up to the life, music, and movement of Easter here in the Holy Land.

I am grateful to say that in the end this video was taken by a pilgrim in Jerusalem - a pilgrim with with a critical eye, an open heart, and very few answers - a pilgrim singing "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest!"

Enjoy. . .

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