Sunday, November 7, 2010

It's a lot to take in.

Andrew didn't grow up in the church. Saying grace, scenes in stained glass, Bible stories and liturgy are all converging to form a new language he is learning each week at St. John's.

Andrew wandered into St. John's because his girlfriend was planning her grandmother's funeral. In death, he heard the truth about life and started asking questions about what we believe and what it all means.

Watching Andrew worship is worshipful. His joyful curiosity is contagious and you can see the radical message that seems familiar to many washing over him with power and mystery. I stand in the pulpit telling people that God knows all of who they are - the good, the bad and the ugly - and desperately loves us anyway. I say it to a lot of people who have heard it a million times. They look at me and listen as quiet transformation trembles. Andrew looks at me like this is the best news he's heard all week and it's performing all kinds of demolition and reconstruction in his heart and mind. He looks at me like it's a brand new promise and he might actually tell someone about it.

He's been attending Casserole Club and brings all kinds of unabashed wisdom to our conversation, noticing the little things about scripture I've failed to recognize as awesome or the things I've never noticed at all. Instead of clamming up because he's new to the language, he speaks with confidence that the gospel is for him to receive, digest and share.

Andrew came to my office on Friday afternoon so we could talk about his baptism. This will be the first adult baptism I've seen at St. John's and I can't wait. His questions were wonderful. We talked about the service, the theology and all the beautiful promises. And every now and then he would lean back in his chair and pause before saying, "I'm sorry. It's a lot to take in." His slight smile was proof that this was all very, very good news.

When we finished, I could tell that he was still wonderfully overwhelmed. So I said, "You don't have to be able to wrap your head around this before your baptism. This theology - this good news about God's gift of new life and salvation and forgiveness in Christ - will continue to unfold in all kinds of bold and subtle ways to come. You'll learn something new about God's love every day and now you're part of a community that wants to wonder about all this stuff together with you."

This morning Andrew wore a robe and sang in the choir. I watched him pass the peace and could see that he really believed God's peace was getting passed from saint to saint. And that, too, is a lot to take in.

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