|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. And...you 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.