Sunday, August 24, 2014

226.

Today the air is heavy and moist. I walked by the river all morning. The flowers are changing this week…not that I'm a master gardener. But each August, the hydrangeas turn green, the tiger lilies dry up, and the black-eyed Susans erupt. Summer is almost over! it screams to ensure I don't blink and miss it. The parkway smells like wet earth. It reminds me of early mornings at a campsite when everything is damp, but the oatmeal and flannel shirt warm you up.


Later this afternoon, once the kids were safely in the hands of grandparents, I drove 226 miles west. Matt usually drives my Corolla these days, so the car and I were like old friends reunited. Music blared and the warm wind whipped in and out of my hair. Chaska. Glencoe. Olivia. Marshall. I slowed down in each, taking in the old signs and friendly faces.

I have deep memories of these roads that lead through southwest Minnesota. We spent many summer weekends in Cottonwood when I was growing up. Street dances and corn feeds were magical events. I remember chiggers stuck to my legs after a lake swim and hours tossing water balloons. Cousins I now call friends seemed light-years older than me. I wrote my name on the chalkboard inside the Little Red Schoolhouse every summer, in awe of my own addition to the infinite memories that place held for my family.

The wind farms just east of Tyler were beautiful. The clouds rolled above us, stirring my songs and my memories. They propelled me across the boarder somewhere brand new.

And then I checked into my hotel. Though the rich yellows and greens of the plains know my heart and my ancestry, I was still a tired City Mouse without children underfoot(!)  So I fell into a king-sized bed of pillows and fluff. I buried my head in the covers and disappeared for 8 hours.

Alone. At peace. Completely still. And maybe (just a little) lonely.

This is only the second time I've had so much sleep in a full year. My body and mind are always carrying more than themselves - and have been for quite awhile. But, for a night, it was just me and the plains and a bed to myself. I did not listen for whimpers or crying. I did not write sermons or do dishes or vacuum or take phone calls. And I did not rise until I was ready.

From this place of restoration, I ironed my clerical wear and my alb, signs of just one of my calls. I dressed for the ordination of a friend and spent the morning listening to his promises, his gifts, and his willingness. It made me feel grateful and glad.

And then I drove 226 miles back through open fields and small towns, into the warm and wet heat of the city. And there I gathered beloved babies into my arms. They giggled to each other and nestled into my neck. They did not know how far I'd gone, but they were so glad to have me back. Before dark we walked through the yard with them, pointing out the verdant hydrangeas, the wrinkled tiger lilies, and the joyful black-eyed Susans. Don't blink, girls, or you'll miss it.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

bath.

Solveig and Tove,

Last Sunday was beautiful. It was a clash of worlds in the best kind of way.

Baptism is one of those moments when the universal and the abstract become acutely personal and tangible. We gathered for worship on the lawn with stones in hand at 10:00am. These stones represented the heavy, sinful, and worrisome things we carried with us that morning. And then, during the confession, we let them sink into the font. Water rushed over them and the Promise defeated their power. They rested below as I splashed you and people vowed to support you in faith.

Sacraments are supposed to be both mysterious and simple, but sometimes they are just plain confusing instead. So I want to be clear about why you were baptized on Sunday July 27, 2014.

Solveig with a disapproving look. Too bad, honey. God chooses you!

Tove is surprised and whimpers until her hair is dry again. Glamour first.
We care about your sense of self getting tangled up with the Holy Story. You are bound to ask the four big questions: Who am I? Where do I belong? What's my purpose? Where do I find hope? You will find friends, hobbies, and clubs along the way. This is different. Baptism declares your deep belovedness over and over, forever and ever.

We care about your sense of community getting tangled up with Jesus. The fastest growing demographic in America is people who have never experienced genuine community before. Many in our generation are aching for something they've never known and don't know how to describe. The same will be true of you and your peers. And so we are introducing you to the community Jesus creates  across time and space. Your Godparents have made your family a little bigger, signs of the way Christ knits us together as the Body. This community is good, Dear Ones. You don't need to wait to choose it later on - God is already choosing you and that's the whole point. You will find belonging and purpose here from the very beginning.

We care about your sense of God becoming scriptural, not just skeptical. People say all kinds of things about God - usually without being in relationship with God. So we will teach you the story and you will become familiar with God's reputation for coming down, startling systems, and saving us all the time. You will know that God always chooses working with us over efficiency. God finishes things we can't and trumps things we fear. That's a God worth knowing and proclaiming.

Baptism will not remove the obstacles or pain that awaits you in this life. But it does cover you with strength and grace to move through it. It does promise that you are never alone, forever tangled up with a holy identity, home, purpose, and mission. It does mean you are surrounded by voices and hands and hearts that will challenge and champion you. It does declare God's dying and rising love for you - universal and abstract, but also intensely personal and tangible.

You are sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever. (Whether you like it or not.)  Thank God!

Love, Rev. Mom