Saturday, December 8, 2012

witness the fulfillment of our baptism

When we were burying D yesterday afternoon, the dirt from the grave, heaped and lumped by the side of the hole, had frozen. Dark, hard and cold. There was no way a could take a handful of the stuff and make the sign of the cross on the coffin while saying "ashes to ashes, dust to dust..." --and by the time the pall bearers had filled in the hole only half-way, there were only the pall-bearers shoveling the dirt, the funeral director and myself left at the graveside. Everyone else had retreated to their cars and gone back to the church.

Today, it's colder, and the wind is blowing at a good pace. The wind chill is supposed to be in the double digits below zero. But, this is the husband of our Senior Warden at one of the churches I serve. And although he is UCC and the UCC pastor is there, I will be their companion through it all. It is the least I can do.

And Joel looked out the window yesterday morning and said, God flocked our tree!


So much for gravity. And seriousness.

And this evening I will shift modes and prepare to baptize four young people --and there will be laughter and children running everywhere, and cake and then more cake! And the Body of Christ will increase, and there will be more souls to participate in the eternal priesthood.

Last Sunday, when it came time to share the bread and wine, one of the adults went outside to call in the children who were playing outside --and when the little hands were outstretched before me, the bright cheeks shining, the shoulders still bumping each others in gentle play before the altar, I had the overwhelming sense of a holy presence --a holy one among them, or perhaps holiness among them. "This is God's special food for you --to make you strong in the Spirit, the Body of Christ" I said to each of them... and inwardly I was rejoicing --here is our hope.

--in each and every generation, to the seventh generation.

--and the funeral and the baptisms meet in the words of St. Paul that are often ignored in the baptismal rite --we are buried with Christ in baptism... buried in that dark, hard, cold rock --and made alive in him through baptism. We are already the walking dead --and now, already living the eternal life, already living in the eighth day of creation --already living in the completed sacred circle --already.

At prayer this morning (Canticle: A Song of the Wilderness, Isaiah 35:1-7, 10)

The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, *
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
It shall blossom abundantly, *
and rejoice with joy and singing.
They shall see the glory of the Lord, *
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weary hands, *
and make firm the feeble knees.

Say to the anxious, “Be strong, do not fear! *
Here is your God, coming with judgment to save you.”
Then shall the eyes of the blind be opened, *
and the ears of the deaf be unstopped.
Then shall the lame leap like a deer, *
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness *
and streams in the desert;
The burning sand shall become a pool *
and the thirsty ground, springs of water.
The ransomed of God shall return with singing, *
with everlasting joy upon their heads.
Joy and gladness shall be theirs, *
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

That's all she wrote --off I go to stand by the gash in our mother earth, and witness the fulfillment of our baptism....


Ann said...

Take a baggie of dirt with you in your pocket so it is all warm and ready when time to spread "dust to dust" or as I like to say "stardust to stardust" -- an old Wyoming clergy trick.

JCF said...

We buried my cousin in Fresno today.

I thought the (dog-collar'd) Father's homily was too sectarian ("Come to ***Jesus***") for ANY funeral, much less one that was held in a non-denominational funeral chapel.

So when I got home, I Google'd him (the priest). This was Fresno, after all . . . and my suspicions were confirmed. He's from ACNA. In an occupied Episcopal parish. Oy vey. [I don't have any reason to think my cousin was affiliated w/ this congregation. His (semi-senile) mother, perhaps.]

RIP, Bob. You deserved better.

susankay said...

Bob is OK. Isn't it nice that God is a whole bunch bigger than his/her priests

Satchel said...

That was simply lovely.