In Lay Terms

Random Ramblings From a Church Nerd

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Flaming Pants

I could share several stories about my trip to Toronto...however, I'm going to focus on one. This story is both very moving and quite funny at the same time. It's also very providential, as I have mentioned the background in a previous post.

Two posts below this, I pasted an article about an attempted gay pride event in Latvia. Several GLBT folks and allies were in a church, when anti-gay protesters stormed the church. When people attempted to leave, the crowd threw rotten fruit and shit at them. In the article, they mention Pastor Maris Sants. I did not realize when I posted this story, that Pastor Maris was going to be attending the Together in Toronto Assembly I was at this weekend. I have met him, and he is a lovely person.

However, he had packed the same clothes he had worn the day of the protest. When he was talking to people, he smelled shit. He then thought the smell was coming from his clothes (he had cleaned them). He asked others if they thought that he stank, and they said they couldn't smell anything. His memory was triggering within his nose.

His hosts decided that they needed to do something to help Pastor Maris out. They went out and bought him some new clothes. Then, they planned a ceremonious "pants burning". Of course, we couldn't start a fire on the college campus where we were staying, so we traveled to a nearby church courtyard. We prayed. Some GLBT clergy read scripture. Maris shared his story and some thoughts with the group. Then, we were all handed lighters. They put the pants and jacket in a little grill-type thing, doused it with lighter fluid, and set it on fire. While it burned, we sang a hymn. It was a very moving and powerful experience. I dare say that it was the best worship of the weekend, and it was very spontaneous.

Of course, it you think about it, a "pants burning" is not a common ceremony. It is not listed in the Occasional Services book given to Lutheran Pastors. I joked all weekend that the pants burning was the highlight of the weekend. I just enjoyed saying "pants burning" over and over again. Some folks said they would go, as long as he wasn't wearing the pants when they were set on fire. My favorite joke was when one of the pastors turned to me (holding the ashes of the pants in a cookie tin) and said, "Mr. Poopy Pants". I lost it right then.

Just so you don't think that I'm completely irreverent, these jokes were not shared during the pants burning. They were all within a small company of friends.

Toronto brought me all sorts of new a pants burning ceremony.


Blogger Melissa said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Melissa said...

Ummm...that's Reverend Poopy Pants to you.

Seriously, amazing story Ross, with permission I'd like to add it to my sermon illustration list?

12:45 PM  
Blogger Ross said...

Please use it. It's not really my story, anyway. It was very powerful to be there, though.

7:07 PM  

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