Monday, March 30, 2015

Palm Sunday Mash-Up



MASH-UP -  something created by combining elements from two or more sources: as
a :  a piece of music created by digitally overlaying an instrumental track with a vocal track from a different recording
b :  a movie or video having characters or situations from other sources
(from Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

There is something captivating about a good musical mash-up.  While both an "old favorite" and something "new and different" certainly have their appeals, a well done mash-up has the ability to tap into both currents - it makes us appreciate again the familiar songs while incorporating the rush of seeing them expressed in a fresh way.

The thing about a mash-up, though, is that you can't really appreciate it unless you're already familiar with both songs.

At the beginning of our work here in northern Mozambique we spent all our time with very young churches and people relatively new to the walk with Christ.  That fact combined with our limited language abilities, meant that everyone was best served by sticking to simple Bible stories.  Most of my sermons would be based out of only one passage and I couldn't assume that the group knew much (if any) of the background necessary to understand the story.  But in recent years, as the churches have grown in maturity and have had increased exposure to the biblical text, further pedagogical possibilities have opened up to us.   
Now Makua-Metto followers of Jesus are better able to appreciate a good mash-up. 

And mash-ups are fun.  It's been enjoyable to  reach the stage where we don't have to stick to a single, simple text but can help our friends connect scriptures in surprising ways.

Yesterday, in the village of Ncunama, I tried out a Palm Sunday mash-up.
We started in Luke 19 and read about Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (v. 35-40).  I told the story of how Jesus rode on the back of a young donkey and how his followers and many others in the capital gave him a welcome fit for a king.  People placed their cloaks and branches on the road and joyfully praised God for Jesus' miraculous works.  Not everyone, though, was pleased at this scene.  Some religious leaders were concerned that this celebration was getting out of hand and urged Jesus to put a stop to "all this nonsense."  But, Jesus refused, informing them that if the people were kept quiet, the rocks themselves would have to cry out.

After considering how this humble entry speaks volumes about Jesus' true identity as the promised Messiah and King, we turned to the second part of our mash-up.

We jumped to Revelation 19 and encountered a different vision of Jesus (v. 11-16).  In that text, he's the one called "Faithful and True" and rides in on a white horse.  His eyes are aflame and he's got a head full of crowns.  The armies of heaven follow him and he wields a powerful sword.  But, it's not some metal blade.  Instead, his sword is his tongue and with it he commands the nations.  And written on his clothing (and tattooed on his person) he wears this title - "King of Kings and Lord of Lords."

Good mash-ups luxuriate in the consistencies and inconsistencies between their different source materials.  They take common elements, words or themes and connect them together in surprising ways.

In both of these texts we see Jesus making a triumphal entry.  In Luke 19, he trots in on young donkey, whereas in Revelation 19 he thunders in on a mighty steed.  In both texts, Jesus encounters opposition from earthly rulers, and in both of them his words silence those who would oppose him.  We remember how in the beginning God created the universe with words, and in these stories we see how Christ's words display the same power to recreate.   He's able to redirect those who've gone wrong.

We talked about how the church in Ncunama has experienced persecution and pressure from religious leaders and I encouraged them to know that even though Christ body's entrance into that village seemed weak and humble, the reality is that the Rider on the White Horse stands in power with them.

Well, I hope you enjoyed listening in on our Palm Sunday mash-up of Luke 19/Revelation 19.        

It is fun to be in a stage of ministry where the church can appreciate it and make even more connections on their own.

May God's people grow in their ability to experience mash-ups of Scripture and may it serve to encourage them to follow the One who is Faithful and True!

Grace and Peace,
Alan

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