Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Guerrilla Gardening/Church & Palm Sunday

Saturday, April 4 from 10 am to 2 pm we sponsored a Garden and Community Event at O'Brien Park, 6147 N. Lewis Ave., with a special focus at 11 am on the birth of our community gardens, our ongoing Let Turley Bloom projects at the local school and in other places in our area, and we conducted some "guerrilla gardening" raids off and on during the day on Saturday. More on that below. We were joined by graduate social work students from the Univ. of Oklahoma who will be talking with area residents about how to take "A Third Place" to their street and immediate neighborhood. There was seed sharing, flower swapping, plant exchanging, and more.

Sunday, April 5, Palm Sunday, 10 am worship and we watched a selection of clips about Jesus' entry into Jerusalem from films over the years, seeing how the depiction of Jesus changed over time to become more human, more insurgent, and more about a choice to take a kind of street justice action in the face of Empire. See above for the action we took on Palm Sunday morning as our kind of procession into the community to change its understanding of itself.

Our church is a guerrilla church, in the sense of a revolutionary understanding of what church is; revolutionary in the sense of having "revolved" back to the more organic expression of church when the followers of Jesus were seeking to experience his spirit still by following his Way still; when it was about living out God's mission to those outcast by Empire and gathering for worship in celebration of that mission and for sustaining the spirit to continue being engaged in that subversive mission, sowing seeds of love and justice.

It is no surprise then that we often express our church through what has come to be called "guerrilla gardening." See There are a lot of lessons in this movement for the church being called into being now. Consider these quotes from the new book Guerrilla Gardening: A Handbook For Gardening Without Boundaries by Richard Reynolds...It also contains good spiritual reminders for lives and families as well.

"Take a public place of wasted opportunity and turn it into a garden." That is the mission; one in which we often find ourselves "at odds" with powers to be, and the attitudes of the culture around us.

"The challenge of fighting scarcity and neglect on a global scale seems distant and insurmountable as you dig away trying to transform a tatty tree pit. Even if you bring the challenge down in size, your triumphant garden does not stand beautifully to attention for long. Battles are not predictable as exciting new opportunities and disappointing diversions blow you off course....The first step is making the most of any triumph. Look for little victories....Enjoy your plants. Lyla 1046 (screen name for one guerrilla gardener on the website) savors triumph every day as she walks past her sunflower seedlings sprouting in a planter on a north London industrial estate...Enjoy positive reactions...Put changing people's perceptions of their community on your list of little victories; after a resident of Regan Way, Hackney, told me our guerrilla gardening in his area "would be destroyed by the morning" it was indeed a victory two months later to see his pleasure that the garden was still largely intact....Share victories by helping someone else guerrilla-garden in their area....Many thriving community gardens that began as guerrilla activity are now microcosms of a different kind of society, one that is happier, more sociable and sustainable. Even a transformed roadside verge (intersection) signals the potential for change."

Microcosms of a different kind of society---not mirrors of the dominant society---that is the mark of Jesus' gathering called a church. Join in freely as we go and do likewise, with no creeds attached.

Now that is a Palm Sunday kind of experience, just as when Jesus entered the occupied city of Jerusalem with crosses lining the roads, entered it as if the world truly was a different kind of world than the one people saw and lived in daily, entered it on a donkey to mock the arrival of the Caesers with their warhorses, entered it with a group of outcasts who'd been out on the road, reminding the Temple authorities of God's presence in the wilderness, entered it to announce the beloved community was possible and was here and open to all to participate in. Every time we plant a tree, seedbomb a roadside neglected, clear trash, remove graffiti or pick up from the mud an old television set that has been out on the side of the road by the welcome sign to Turley for months and months as a sign of one kind of community, welcome someone new to A Third Place Center, and pay the bills that allow the center to keep the clinic open and the free clothes room and food pantry open, every time we fix a meal and offer it to strangers on Sunday, pause by the prayer table and light a candle and leave a prayer for someone or for ourselves, each and every time we do something like that we enter Jerusalem with Jesus. Alleluia!