Vision: COME THE NEW JERUSALEM! by Howard Hanger

July 31, 2019 |

Let all the dreamers wake the nations!  – Carly Simon

Not sure at all where I stumbled onto this little life-changer. May have been seminary. I actually did learn a few things in that religious bumble-stumble. But when I discovered that the traditional title for a priest leading a Eucharistic (aka communion) Mass was “Celebrant,” my brain’s religious synapses got a wake-up jolt.  Celebrant! A Friggin’ Celebrant! Not ritual leader. Not minister. Not clergy or reverend. No. When you are leading a service of Eucharist or communion, your title is “Celebrant.”   As in merrymaker, partier, reveler.

Now keep in mind that the Eucharist – the sharing of Christ’ body and blood – is the most sacred ceremony in all of Christian tradition. And the leader of this holiest-of-holies is called a Celebrant whose task is to celebrate the Mass.  As if to not just imply, but clearly affirm that the sharing of Jesus’ body and blood is party time… a time of joy… a time for giggles and grins and exultant hoo-hahs.

Sacrilegious?  I think not. Anne Lamott calls laughter “carbonated holiness;” and it may well be that dancing, music and laughter are the most appropriate responses to being offered a bread and wine taste of the holy.  To realize that Jesus freely offers himself to be part of you… part of your flesh and blood… part of your mind and heart… if that isn’t a reason to sing and dance, not sure what it would be.

That little “Celebrant” nugget of discovery scraped whatever barnacles of piety had been clinging to my holiness hull and set me sailing as I never had before – enabling me to truly catch the wind and scoot across the waters as never before. That little celebrant gem helped me realize that prayer can be kneeling at an altar or dancing the Macarena. You can pray while crying with a friend or laughing till the tears run down your leg. You  can pray while singing, “Nearer My God to Thee” or “Margaritaville.” You can pray with a lighted candle or a full moon or a reading lamp. You can pray while making a mandala or making love. If God is, indeed, everywhere, than wouldn’t it seem that almost anything can help us make the connection?

That is what Jubilee! has been about in many ways. For 30 years we have celebrated. Yes, CELEBRATED that life is a blessing and we are blessed and blessing as we enjoy and share that holy gift. It hasn’t been all fun and games. There are sorrows enough to keep you busy every day of your life. Weeping is integral to the story. But there are also incalculable joys. And delectable passion. And gob-smacking goofiness.  And in the midst of it all, we are fed the body and blood of the Holy.  The Jesus Holy. The Buddha Holy. The Taoist Holy. The Lost-in-Wonder Holy.

Jubilee! began, in part, with a wish and a dream that church didn’t have to be so damn churchy. So pompous and full of itself. I think we have successfully danced around the pomposity, but we are pretty full of ourselves: full of our delight in delight, full of our commitment to share that delight in the form of food and shelter and protection of the earth, full of our delight in exploring the unknown and welcoming the outrageous and full of the delight in knowing that Jubilee! is far too important to ever take seriously.

And now, with my retirement and with Celebrant Amy, we are about to open a whole new gaggle of wonder.  My prayer for you – which often comes with a little Eucharistic ice cream or whiskey – is that we will allow our dreams to expand and our celebrations to blow off the roof.  Let all the dreamers wake the nations!