One of the Church’s processional days beckons. It’s Palm Sunday and we’re on our way to Jerusalem. My parish invites people outside, weather permitting, and maybe yours does too.
We also field the occasional protest that if the weather’s too nice, there’s no coat to mark our early seat. You know the problem, right? Some faithful Massgoer has a favored spot, but when invited they obediently trudge outside into the sun and warm wind. When they’ve waved their palm leaf in the walk back into the building, they discover some latecomer has snapped up their place. Maybe even someone who bypassed the procession.
What do you do? What do you say?
Before you sit in the purple seat of liturgical judgment, I’ll mention what one pastor proposed long ago: invite early birds to sit in all but one section of chairs, and then when people attempted to bypass the walk around the church, the ushers would urge them into a segregated chunk of seating.
Do you suppose that worked?
I would imagine it would not in my section of the States, where docility perhaps does not run as deep. The dreams of liturgists to inspire and choreograph the movement of members of the congregation beyond their personal inclinations tend to wither quickly after germination in these parts. Congregants can be quite sensible in accommodating actual needs on the ground, but more resistant to choreography that is perceived as a want rather than a need. Ministers may be fortunate to avoid beholding eye-rolling.