Today, I'm sharing an old post from last September. As of today, I'm 45% funded for my book project. Would you consider helping, even if for only a $1? We assemble in the small, stone chapel with the large wooden cross that hangs under the porthole window through which the afternoon sun pours through. There aren’t enough seats and more than twenty of us stand arrayed in the back, close enough to one another to feel the weights that each of us have carried the past week. Close enough to help shoulder them a bit too. We are all in a way foreigners here, attending a service instituted by an Anglican Communion mission being held in the chapel of a Baptist church, a patchwork congregation of Methodists, Presbyterians, a Pentecostal or two, Bapto-Anglicans, and everyone in between.
But we have come here to be united in this: the baptism of a child who has declared Christ to be her Lord and Saviour.
There aren’t enough printed booklets with the liturgy and the hymns printed on them, so we share. We share with strangers, but who are nonetheless familiar, for they are here with us for the same reason and this is our unity. This is the great mystery, that we are all brothers and sisters and each service, each time we gather together, we gather like a family having a reunion.
But it’s a big family and there are lots of people to meet.
And today, we’re all meeting someone new.
The priest explains the service: we read the Word, we share prayers of thanksgiving, the candidate for baptism is asked if she affirms those things common in our Faith, she is taken to the font to be fully immersed in the waters, we as a whole, as a family, with our new sister, share the Eucharist.
Some are familiar with these things, some find them strange and new. But together we fumble our way along the liturgy, some of us crossing ourselves, some of us bowing, some keeping silent, some repeating, and we find somewhere in the midst of these diverse responses that common note of prayer. This note that is part of making us into the notes of the Song.
We follow the priest and our sister-to-be out of the chapel and to the font. There the water is blessed, we too are reminded of the vows we have made to our Christ, we affirm them again, we affirm that we shall, diverse as we are, watch over this sister in prayer and hope. Upon her profession of faith, she is submerged in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
And we erupt in applause.
Our applause rips through the fabric of the place we find ourselves, bursts forth and draws Heaven just a bit closer than it was before. A sister has been welcomed into the family and there is no need to quibble over theologies or styles or methods here, for this is glory enough.
We return to the stone chapel, to the wooden cross, to the resplendent sun pouring in. We quietly walk forward and receive the Body and Blood.
Some do not and stay seated, some are blessed. Some see the sacrament in one way, some another. What matters is that the family is together and the family is celebrating. Celebrating under the wooden cross, bathed in the endless light.
I am not one of those people who puts much faith in politics healing anything for us. I am not one of those people who is particularly interested in pretending that this broken cosmos shall be made whole by anything but the impossible breaking in of Christ in His fullness into this space.
On this day we gathered together to celebrate this baptism.
It is September 11, 2011.
There was no better way to remember, or perhaps to redeem, than this: this fearsome thing of grace.
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