It's time to come clean. We are responsible for the secret ninjas. I know you have been wondering and wondering who unleashed them into the world. It all started with Ash Wednesday. Which is where all good things begin, amIright? The text for Ash Wednesday is from Matthew 6--where we are told not to be like the hypocrites who pray in public and make a show of it. Well...as it turns out...we are a pretty public church. Years prior, we offered the imposition of ashes at the bus stop. In 2013, we smashed tiles out front on the sidewalk (narthex) on W 7th street before entering worship on Ash Wednesday.
So, what does this Gospel have to say to a church that lives in public? Leading up to Ash Wednesday, the entire polar vortex winter felt penitential. We felt like we had already been living lent. So, what might connect with our community and this text and is actually just a bit playful? Which, I concur, is not our normal tone for lent. But we dared to ask it and that's where the idea for secret ninja was born.
We began Ash Wednesday service with a hot baked potato bar and then spent a good amount of time painting little peg people. As we moved into the liturgy, we offered some guidelines for secret ninjas.
Every Sunday, our prelude, prayer time and postlude included time for painting secret ninjas. At the end of worship, people were invited to take one (and a guidelines card) and then find a way to send it off into the world. Hundreds were painted and loosed.
A delightful embodiment of the season and the Gospel ensued. Because guess what? We were instructed to tell no one. No one! But most of us just couldn't contain it. "I felt like I was bursting. So, I just told my sister. Just one person. And then I felt better." "I can't help it--it's just too fun to keep in." We began worship each week with secret ninja news--so that people had a place to share sightings of ninjas.
We invited people to tell the stories for the Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday with secret ninja dioramas. And they did.
Then it was Easter and our time with Lenten secret ninjas was over. Except, it wasn't. Or isn't because it just keeps going...secret ninja sightings and rumblings are still occurring.