Monday, October 1, 2012

Park(ing) Day Eucharist

Note: So, this happened on Sept. 21 and I'm just now getting around to writing about it, many apologies for people who were curious about it.  
Free Jesus in a parking space!    ||    Photo courtesy of Rick Strandlof

Every September 21, an event takes place simultaneously around the world, throwing pedestrians off, and confusing drivers everywhere.  This day is called Park(ing) Day and is a moment to recognize and reframe what public land looks like.  Since parking meters are technically public property, the organization says, then anyone should be able to meter out a space and do what they want there, not just park cars.  The initiative started with turning a parking space into a public park (complete with sod and park benches) and has grown to metering out spaces and doing all sorts of things in them, to raise awareness for...well...anything.

One of my parishioners, Rick, found out about this and said "lets do a Eucharist in a parking space!"  Naturally, we said yes.  So, I was in charge of getting all the supplies from church and hauling them around to 3 different parking spaces in downtown Denver throughout the day.  Each spot, we fed the meter (one of them was only $.20/hour!) and set up an altar, a prayer station, and gathered with HFASS people and some passersby and celebrated the Eucharist.  "Free Jesus (for all sinners and saints)" got some looks, and some questions, and some ignoring, but all in all it was a really great experience and opened some conversation about what church can and could look like.

Pastor Nadia posted about this on her blog in about 4 sentences and it sparked a ton of debate.  One of the critics said that the Eucharist should only be celebrated where there is a community of baptized believers, and should be done reverently instead of in a parking space.  We at House have no membership, and what that means to us is that whoever the Spirit brings to worship is the Church, regardless if it is in our worship space or in a parking spot.  We also practice radical Eucharistic hospitality at House meaning that everyone, without exception, is invited to have the body and blood of Christ.

Ultimately the rules we have around something that is not rightfully ours to make rules about are about preserving 'us' and keeping out 'them' when we should be called to embrace the 'we' as the body of Christ. know...HFASS tries to show people that Church doesn't always have to be something so inaccessible, that's why we bring it to the streets in a parking space.


  1. "Ultimately the rules we have around something that is not rightfully ours to make rules about are about preserving 'us' and keeping out 'them' when we should be called to embrace the 'we' as the body of Christ."

    This sounds to me like the intern is making up rules of his own. Are you saying that you get to make rules but the rules the church has made for centuries were not theirs to make? Eucharistic hospitality is a huge conversation that cannot be summed up in a blog. Not a rule, but a fact.

  2. Rev. Jonathon MoyersOctober 3, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Rev. or Mr. Satterlee (as the case may be),

    I find your comments to Alex to be rather unnecessarily harsh. He is not making up his own rules, but is rather setting upon a course of action that is A) grounded in consistent principle and B) already the ethos of the community to which he has been called for internship. So, if you know anything of his pastor, which I am assuming you do, this is probably an area of exploration that she not only encouraged, but approved in her role as pastor. Look at the pictures from the event and you'll see that Nadia was there as proper celebrant of the Eucharist.

    Do I agree with Alex in the question of communicating those who are not yet baptized? No. Not at all. I wish we lived in a church that was so anxious to give away the Sacrament of Holy Baptism as it was to give away the Sacrament of Holy Communion. Free Baptisms for all! See what happens there (I may have just started something...).

    I'd like you and I to pay special attention to the spirit behind what Alex has tried to communicate to us in this blog. I'll point it out for you. A lot of what HFASS does seems to make me a bit uncomfortable. But then, I'm a stuffy evangelical catholic who pulls out the SB & H for fun. While sometimes I think they absolutely push the limits of being faithful to tradition, I really admire in them that which makes me uncomfortable. The whole goal of what they did in the parking spot is to try to find a visible and tangible way of literally bringing Christ into the lives and senses of people going about their days in Denver. Would that the rest of the church be so daring! If that were the case, then we'd probably not be in the shape we're in.

    So, Alex, Nadia, HFASS, and anyone presumptuous enough to try these things, thanks for making me uncomfortable. I needed that.

  3. Craig,

    I don't think you read the post at all accurately. This is NOT about an intern making up rules. This about an intern/supervisor ministerial team embarking on a project for the Eucharistic community which they serve. And this blog post is merely a descriptor of the thoughts surrounding that act. They may be making up "being church" as they go, challenging church rules and policy, but an autonomous and rogue intern this is not.

    To a much bigger point, I question the wisdom of posting this unnecessarily pointed (and unfair) public shaming of a student in your position as a faculty member and as someone involved in field education at LSTC. A total breech of boundaries in my estimation. (Matt. 18:15)

  4. Thanks, Pastor Moyors and Annonymous, for your responses.

    Perhaps I did misread the post. I certainly didn't see the picture. I admire what House of All Sinners and Saints is doing. They push the envelop and, indeed, make me uncomfortable, which is good for me. I read the "we" in the sentence "Ultimately the rules we have around something that is not rightfully ours to make rules about are about preserving 'us' and keeping out 'them' when we should be called to embrace the 'we' as the body of Christ" as embracing a community beyond this single congregation, namely the church. And, indeed, the church rightfully does have the responsibility to make "rules" about the Eucharist, and those rules are not always ultimately about preserving "us" and keeping out "them." So the sentence struck me as dismissing the church. Since this blog is about sharing life at LSTC, and not a personal blog, I am unsettled by any inkling that LSTC students dismiss the church. If the "we" was meant to communicate a single congregation, then I am mistaken.

    As for the total breach of boundaries, perhaps you are right. My intent was not to shame. And boundary violations are not measured by intent. I am not involved in field ed,

    I trust Scott Chalmers, with whom I discussed my previous post before it was approved,to decide whether this post should be approved. Scott helped me to better understand the nature of this blog and I am pondering whether I, as a faculty member, should comment on these posts.

    As for Matt. 18:5, I am sorry you felt it necessary to remain anonymous. I suspect we all do our best.

  5. One unfortunate thing about the public perception of HFASS is that it is based on the crazier stuff we do - like this and the blessing of the bicycles and Beer & Hymns etc. While that is part of the culture of HFASS it is not the center. The center is very traditional (dare I say, confessional) Lutheranism in the form of Law & Gospel preaching and liturgical practice. For instance, we sing the old hymns of the church and we would not dream of removing the confession and absolution from our liturgy. Nor the Psalm, which we know is a WILL rubric and not a MAY rubric. The most common setting of the liturgy that we use is setting 3 from the LBW...and when we are getting really crazy, our "contemporary" liturgy is Schubert's Deutsch Mass :) People at HFASS avail themselves not only of the means of grace in the Eucharist but in the rite of private confession and absolution. We pray for each other anointing with oil and at the Easter vigil we had 8 baptisms. And I have been know when preaching about baptism to remind people that if they have not received this sacrament that it is FOR THEM and that indeed, "here is water, what is to keep us?" which comes off as an altar call, but I'm ok with that!

    So while, yes, the pastor has tattoos and we are RIC and have an open table and we engage in some creative ways to be church, we are more traditionally Lutheran than not. And none of the creative stuff happens apart from catechesis. That is a critical point. We just don't believe people have to be catechized BEFORE they are handed the goods. Several of the unchurched people who have been baptized at HFASS never would have gone through with the catechumenal process were they not called into it by receiving the gifts of God which are free and for all.

    I'm grateful for the amazing Lutheran theological education that Alex has clearly received at LSTC and for their willingness to send him our way. He is a gift.

    ps- am a bit of a Craig Satterlee fan and hopes he can visit us sometime :)