Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Miracle

In theory, I would find a way to worship most Sundays apart from St. John's at congregations offering services around my worship schedule. Serving in a metropolitan area offers these perks: collegiality, collaboration and the opportunity to worship in the pews.

As coffee hour slowed, I locked up and headed northeast to El Milagro, a Spanish-speaking Lutheran church in Minneapolis. My cousin is in town and I'd been meaning to explore this place with her. I drive by El Milagro (The Miracle) every day and seeing it reminds me of the times I have worshiped in a language I don't understand. A Xhosa church in South Africa had me beating my hand on a percussion pad and trying to make my mouth click as we sang hymns with melodies I must have known in another life. Bangladeshi Christians had me dancing on Christmas Eve and rocking to the rhythm of what felt like the Lord's Prayer.

The sound of tambourines met us as we entered and we followed our noses to incense in the sanctuary. My cousin understood much more than I could translate, but the liturgy's grace kept me in tune. I had preached that morning and knew the texts well enough to hear words like "wash" and "seven" and "compassion". Our leprosy was being healed.

During the prayers we were instructed to turn to our neighbor and grace her with the sign of the cross on her forehead. We were to pray for resurrection in each other's lives. It was easy, but so difficult. I traced Berit's baptism on her skin and spoke words I meant, that could not be released without the teary eyes of a big sister/cousin. Oh, how I love you. And how I love this miracle of resurrection. And how I love that you are tangled up in that miracle with me because of this cross we paint on each other. These are the words I thought as I held her face and professed my prayer.

The meal was an enormous chunk of soft wheat bread that took three bites - three swallows for my body to believe in Jesus' body - his promise and presence for me. The sending hymn had us all in the aisle, singing and clapping and holding hands with brothers and sisters. A miracle indeed.

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