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Saturday, April 8, 2000


Isle Christians nourish
their souls during
Lenten pauses
at lunchtime

Seders mark Passover
Donkey wanted for Palm Sunday parade

By Mary Adamski


It was Wednesday noon, and as nearby restaurants filled with lunch seekers, a small group gathered in downtown Honolulu to feed their souls.

The midday pause for meditation and prayer on the grounds of Harris United Methodist Church is one of the ways Honolulu Christians are observing Lent, the 40-day period of spiritual self-examination preceding the church's greatest holiday, Easter.

"How can we sing the Lord's song? We live in a land whose religion puts comfort before conscience," chanted the Rev. Sam Domingo.

"Jesus lived in such a land, yet he sang the Lord's song," responded the dozen believers. Their session was an island of quiet surrounded by the surf-sounding swoosh of passing traffic, the squeal of a siren, the crescendo of organ music for a Japanese wedding in the sanctuary next door.

The litany continued. "... A land whose business puts success before service ... a land whose politics puts power before principle ... a land whose culture puts ease before ethics."

Sachi Taketa, a state Department of Health administrator, used her lunch hour for the hymns, prayers and Scriptural readings.

"It is a good break to reflect on what Lent is about, to get refocused," she said. "When I go back to work, I feel refreshed."

Tiyana Fao, 12, on spring break from Cathedral School, came after basketball practice to report in to her grandmother, so church secretary Nina Afalava brought her along. She said it wasn't anything remarkable: "I go every Sunday with my mom and grandma.

"I gave up skateboarding for Lent because it's my favorite thing to do," said Tiyana. "If Jesus can give up his life, I can give up something worthwhile."

The idea of giving up something for Lent is a longstanding exercise "to clear the things away in our lives, to focus on God," said the Rev. Donna Faith Eldredge, coordinator of education ministries. She said the modern trend is "to give instead of give up," such as performing a service for the poor or donating to a good cause what you would have spent on chocolate.

Service to the poor goes beyond the limited period of Lent, said Kitty Robertson, who coordinates the church's longstanding commitment to make soup for the Institute for Human Services.

Week in, week out for 21 years, volunteers have gathered Monday mornings to make the hamburger-potato-vegetable soup and deliver it by the tubful to the homeless shelter, which has moved from their neighborhood to Iwilei.

Like many other churches, Harris United also holds a Wednesday evening soup supper for its members during Lent, combining worship with a simple monastic meal.

"My thing is to add some extra worship during Lent," said Mona Bomgaars, a state administrator, as the evening group convened. "I put the Bible next to where I eat my breakfast."

John Wenzel, a retired airline security officer, said: "I feel very sensitive to the Lenten season. As I grew and identified with my spiritual side, I had some guilt I had to resolve, and I had to learn to accept forgiveness. I'm still working on it. On Good Friday, I feel very uncomfortable with what the Lord went through."

Domingo said: "People want to find ways to be spiritual but not put in the time. I think that's the struggle."

Time-saving is cranked into the congregation's Lenten finale, a prayer vigil that starts after the Good Friday service and continues day and night until sunrise Easter Sunday.

"A vigil is a part of the Christian heritage," said Domingo. "We want people to be more introspective," and the time spent in silent reflection "is a deeper way to understand the meaning of how Christ died and God raised him up."

Church members may sign up for 15-minute segments of the 34-hour vigil.

But, recognizing that his is a commuter congregation, Domingo does not expect people to do their time at the church. Their vigil time can be spent in whatever quiet space they choose.

"There is a cumulative effect" in observing Lent, said the pastor. "By the end of your life's journey, you come closer to understanding the depth of God's love."

Seders to mark
onset of Passover

Oahu's Jewish congregations will gather April 19 for a traditional ritual meal, or Seder, to begin the observance of Passover.

Seder arrangements include the following:

Bullet Temple Emanu-El: Monday is the deadline for reservations for the event at Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki. Dinner at 7:30 p.m. will follow a 6:30 p.m. service. Tickets for nonmembers are $65 for adults and $35 for children 4 to 10. For information call Kathryn Serikaku, 239-1090, or the temple, 595-7521.
Bullet Chabad of Hawaii: Reservation deadline Thursday for banquet at Hilton Hawaiian Village. Call 735-8161.
Bullet Kahilat Ha Melech Messianic Congregation: The celebration will be at 6:30 p.m. at Pacific Beach Hotel. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for children under 10. Friday is the deadline. Call 236-0440.

Anyone there
have a donkey?

An early egg hunt and a search for a donkey are among the previews of Easter next week.

A good-natured donkey or pony is sought by the Kalihi-Palama Interfaith Council for its Palm Sunday parade through Palama. A youth designated to portray Jesus will ride the animal on April 16 in the re-enactment of Christ's entry into Jerusalem before his death. Caroline Malani at Kaumakapili Church, 845-0908, hopes to hear from a donkey owner.

A Kaimuki egg hunt is planned for next Saturday by the Lifespring Christian Fellowship. There will be candy and door prizes for youngsters through grade 6 at the 10 a.m. event at Liholiho Elementary School, 3430 Maunaloa Ave.

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