Sunday, September 24, 2006

The big day

I'm still trying to sort out my impressions about this big day, which doesn't really seem so momentous now that it has come and gone. I feel a little like a kid who is asked on her birthday if she feels any different. Of course she says she feels older, because she thinks she's supposed to, though in truth seven feels an awful lot like six and 364 days. What is different is that, for a passing moment, she is the center of everyone's attention, and though she is too bashful to admit it, she's actually enjoying that.

It was nice this morning to be applauded and hugged and welcomed by all. I suspect that next Sunday will feel a lot like the day after your birthday, which is to say back to business as usual, but today was nice while it lasted.

Two of our Inquirers' group were still away on honeymoon, so six of us were called to the front of our little church together to restate our baptismal promises. I wasn't sure how I was going to feel about this. By the middle of last week I was enjoying a measure of peace and certainty about it, but Thursday's letter from my old church was an invitation to enter into turmoil again. A friend from work sent me an email on Friday with this advice: "Enjoy Sunday. Remember why you came to this decision," and that really helped, though I doubt she understood exactly how much those words meant to me. By this morning I was calm again, and happy.

So we stood up together, renewed our commitment to Jesus Christ, and affirmed our belief in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We promised "with God's help" to "proclaim by word and example the Good News of God in Christ," to "seek and serve Christ in all persons," and "to strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being." The bishop laid his hands upon each of our heads and said a prayer. There are some things that have special meaning in church but in fact are quite ordinary: shaking hands, for example, or sharing bread and wine. The laying on of hands isn't something we ordinarily do to one another, though, and it was an interesting sensation. I experienced it as a very peaceful, focused moment.

When that part was over and we returned to our places, the hymn that came next was Lord of All Hopefulness, which I've always liked, but which now will have special meaning:

Lord of all hopefulness, Lord of all joy,
Whose trust, ever child-like, no cares could destroy,
Be there at our waking, and give us, we pray,
Your bliss in our hearts, Lord, at the break of the day.
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, Lord, at the end of the day.

(The bishop said "Wow!" to our singing, but I realized today that the building has a relatively low ceiling, at least in church terms, which probably adds to the effect.)

When the whole thing was over we went outside and had a party, and the rain stayed away until the very end. It was really a very nice morning.

I'm auditing a course at the university about Christian ethics and modern culture, and in these early days our reading is meant to lay the groundwork for understanding the sources of Christian thinking. Last week we read a piece by Nicholas Lasch in which he draws a parallel between interpreting the New Testament and interpreting a musical composition or play. In all three cases, he says, we can enhance our understanding through the application of academic kinds of thinking, but the real work of interpretation happens when we together with others and perform it.

I'm looking forward to that.


At 8:08 PM, Blogger Rachel's Big Dunk said...

One foot,

Prayers for you on this new leg of your faith walk.

I am so happy you have found a home.


At 8:17 PM, Anonymous Mary Beth said...

Praying for you. The Episcopal Church welcomes you, and so do I!

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