I’m leaving the craft supply store with a bag of treasures: bamboo broadcloth, ivory poly satin and pearlescent glass beads. My co-resident Idowu’s wife is making my ordination stole; she’s a seamstress.
The day can’t come fast enough but I’m also enjoying the waiting, the anticipation, the reflection on what in the world led me to ministry and to a love of worship, sacrament and preaching.
I guess it makes sense- I was raised as a missionary kid and a preacher’s kid – not a chance all THREE of us would make it out unscathed 😉
Looking back, I suppose I’ve been preaching since I was about 7 or 8. My sister Jojo would have been 4 and Bama just coming out of her puppy phase. I don’t know what possessed us to hold a revival that day – perhaps our everyday “playing church” wasn’t going to be enough this time?
We gathered for the worship of God in the bathroom, the bathtub marking the front of our makeshift sanctuary. All our stuffed animals came: Fuzzy Bear and Teddy, Froggy and Mouse, Puffalump, GlowWorm and all of their friends. I didn’t preach that day, actually, Jojo did and I was the song leader.
We began with “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” went straight into “Praise the Lord Ye Heavens Adore Him,” and then concluded our praise medley with “Praise to the Lord the Almighty.”
Jojo preached a wonderful sermon. I don’t remember a thing she said, but I remember the heart of her message – resplendent with power, saturated with truth, dripping with evangelistic swag as her passionate voice traveled a sea of dynamic delivery: her volume reaching thunderous heights and then trailing off into valley-like whispers.
She concluded with a very poignant invitation and as she offered it, she turned to the front of the “baptistery” and turned on the faucet. As the water flowed freely forth, I invited the congregation to “please come, won’t you come, as we stand and sing this song of invitation.”
And just as we got to about verse 3 of “Just As I Am”, Bama came forward! We sang the remaining verses while Jojo further encouraged any in the congregation to come and “join this soul who has come,” and then we baptized Bama. We dried her off and then we said the prayer for communion.
Never before had saltines and grape juice been handled with such reverence and care. We celebrated as a community: stuffed animals and live, humans and dog under the watch of a playful, imaginative, loving God.
In remembering Bama’s baptism, I’m reminded of my own. In Jojo’s compelling sermon, I turn in my mind with fondness to the first time I preached in a real church.
In our makeshift “community of believers” celebrating communion together, I turn with excitement and anticipation toward my upcoming ordination where a very real community of friends and family will gather.
Bread and grape juice, cradled by a chalice and paten commemorating a much anticipated graduation, will be handled with reverence and care; and a diverse community of faith will celebrate communion under the watch of a holy, creative, faithful God.