Keawalaʻi Congregational Church
United Church of Christ (USA)
Second Sunday of Lent
Sunday, March 11, 2012
The Rev. Kealahou C. Alika
One wonders what Jesus would have said to us if he came to our lūʻau yesterday.
First, he would have found himself at the ticket table needing $35.00
(U.S.) to get in.
Then he would have found himself walking in along the sidewalk entrance where Kate and her crew were selling tee shirts and polo shirts, DVDs and CDs, hats and caps, postcards and notecards, books and artwork, and other things. He may have found himself temporarily surprised by the pleasant fragrance of flowers for sale at the lei table.
At the close of the lūʻau he may have wondered
if the announcement of the sale of kalua pig and chicken long
rice was a good deal at $5.00 a container. And I am not certain what
he would have thought of the oli or chant that was offered before
we sang “Hawaiʻi Aloha.”
Whether or not he would have gotten huhū or angry we do not know. But would he have made a whip out of the branches of the kiawe tree and driven Kate and her crew out into the parking lot?
Would he have overturned their tables and told John and his crew of lei sellers to take their lei away? Would he have said, “This lūʻau has turned this church into a marketplace.”
The questions are intriguing. The questions may cause us to become uneasy - “seeing Jesus with the whip of cords in his hands and hearing him with the righteous judgments of God on his lips – knowing that he speaks for us, yes, and with us, but also to us and even against us.” (Feasting on the Word, Year B, Volume 2, Bartlett & Taylor, Westminster/John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 2008, page 96)
But in this season of Lent, we would be wise to imagine
what Jesus would have seen and heard. Would he have understood the significance
of the lūʻau in the way he understood the significance of the
If the Passover was a religious festival commemorating God’s deliverance of the Jews from slavery, would he have understood that the lūʻau was an ‘aha ‘aina or feast to celebrate the music and dance of our ancestors and its place in our life as a community of faith? I hope so.
Would he have noticed the spontaneity that comes for us when we gather for such a feast – of an 11 year old girl being join by a tūtū – and dancing “Puamana” while the two musicians from the first set remained to back them up? None of it rehearsed. All of it being shared because of our love for Hawaiian music and dance.
I hope so and I would have told him the girl’s family was from Hana and tūtū was from Olowalu; that it may have been the first time they met and that their hug, their embrace at the end their hula was the respect our kupuna, our elders and our ‘ōpio or young people have for one another.
Would Jesus have noticed Auntie Lani and Uncle John Hoʻomana shed a tear and more as kumu Uluwehi sang the passionate love song we know as “Ahi Wela” in celebration of their 40th wedding anniversary? I hope so.
Would he have noticed the young woman from Canada who was overcome with joy because she was able to be among the many volunteers who helped with the preparations on Friday and discovered on the day of lūʻau why all that work was done? I hope so.
Would he have understood how grateful we all were that ke Akua provided us with a beautiful Mākena day – just the right amount of sunshine, cloud cover and afternoon breeze? I hope so.
Would he have noticed those who worked so hard, without complaining – Scott working the parking lot; Lei and Barbara working diligently and with great calm through the onslaught of requests for tickets that came during the week; Fred and others serving as our security at the gates; Ann and Paul directing the kitchen crew; Cindy and Auntie Norma Lei guiding the many volunteers with all of the decorations; Auntie Fran organizing the meals for the volunteers with the kōkua of the Docherty, Perkins and Rowehl families; Karen spending time with the children under the Keiki Tree; Bruce making certain the cleanup went smoothly and Jim keeping an eye out of the trash receptacles? Would he have noticed so many others doing their share of work? I hope so.
Our Board of Trustees would have been the first to tell him that the lūʻau is a fundraiser. It allows us to share with others the joy that comes from such a feast of music, dance and food and at the same time raises funds for the mission and ministry of this church to “share God’s aloha from generation to generation.” (‘Ōlelo Mikiona: Mission Statement, Keawalaʻi Congregational Church).
That aloha was in ample display yesterday.
Our reading from The Book of Exodus focuses on what we have commonly come to know as the Ten Commandments. I have never been too fond of the “ten commandments” if only because they spend an inordinate amount of time telling us what we cannot do.
I understand the value of setting boundaries. God knows we need them and for that reason keeping the commandments has value. But Jesus reminds us that all of the commandments and all of what the prophets have said rest on two commandments. “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor and yourself.’” (Matthew 22:37-40).
I would venture to say that in the end the lūʻau is about our aloha for God, for others and for ourselves. I know our trustees are concerned about how much money is raised but I also know they understand the value of what it means for us to work together as a community of faith.
I was standing over the side of pavilion taking in the view of the vast expanse of those gathered underneath and beside the tent watching the hula on the outdoor mound. One of our trustees was standing next to me and I remember making a remark about the work that everyone did together in making the lūʻau.
“It takes a village to do this,” he said. “And we have a village.”
We, indeed, have a village.
The God we have come to know in this village, we know as a Loving Creator. It is through that love that our “Aloha ‘Āina” – our love for the land, the earth, the sky, the sea, for one another and for all living creatures - remains.
In the midst of the pain and suffering of this season of Lent, we give thanks for the healing and comfort of a Loving Creator. Thanks be to God. Amen.