Saturday, April 18, 2009

Pre-Easter Visit

A few weeks ago, the pastor at my home church, (whom I shall call Pastor S.) emailed and asked me if I would be the Assisting Minister on Easter morning. Since he accepted a new call in a land far, far, away, Easter was planned to be his last Sunday at our church. I was pleased to have been asked, and so I said yes.

A little while after that, I emailed him to talk about figuring out my role in the service. He emailed back and it came to pass that we decided to get together on the Saturday before Easter, go visit Ma, have me look through some books he didn't want to take with him to his new call, and talk about our different roles in the liturgy.

Saturday rolled around and I met Pastor S. at the church. We headed on over to the Supermax to see Ma. When we got there, I pushed all the codes to get us into the unit, and then led Pastor S. to her room (he has been there before, but maybe hasn't been to her room. I don't know). We walked toward her room, and she was on her roommate's side, looking at something. She seemed happy to see Pastor S. but kind of ambivalent about seeing me. I don't know.

We sat down and talked for a little while. Pastor S. tried to get her to talk about different things, but she really wasn't making much sense. I have talked before about how she is losing her ability to string together verbs, adjectives, and nouns to make coherent sentences. I don't know if perhaps I didn't hear her, but it sounded like she made up words a couple of times, too. But, she was still smiling and talkative, so that was good.

After a while, Pastor S. said that he wanted to tell Ma a story. So, he started reading the Easter Gospel lesson. Pastor S. read it very slow at the beginning, and after each sentence, Ma would say, "Okay. Mm-hmm." She was being an "attentive listener." Pastor then talked with Mom about things that make her worried, scared, or troubled, as a sort of "sermon," considering the Easter text dealt with the fear the women had that first Easter morning.

Then, Pastor S. got out communion supplies, did the Words of Institution, and said, "Let's pray the Lord's Prayer."

We bowed our heads and started praying. And then, much to my surprise, Ma prayed, too. I heard her saying the actual words, and I stopped praying, and kind of looked at her, and couldn't start praying again because I was about to start bawling. So, I looked at the ceiling to keep from crying, and I listened to my mom, who rarely says anything that makes much sense, recite the entire Lord's Prayer. Then, Ma, Pastor S., and I all took communion together. This activity makes me appreciate all the more the idea of the "communion of saints," because it unites Christians from every time and place together in our common bond with Christ Jesus. I haven't communed with my mom in almost two years, and it was nice to do so again.

After communion, Pastor S. said to Ma, "I'm not going to be coming here anymore, Ma'sName. Someone new is going to come because I'm moving to Wisconsin." Ma's reply was a chipper, "Okay!" I'm glad that she's not saddened by it because I think I'm sad enough for the both of us.

A little while later, Pastor S. and I decided it was time to go. Ma had referred to me in the third person earlier in the visit, and so I'm not 100% sure she knew it was me there visiting along with Pastor S. We all stood up, and I gave her a big hug and told her I loved her. Pastor S. gave her a hug goodbye, as well, when all of a sudden, she turned to him and said, "Pastor, how are your two boys?" We both looked at her, and Pastor S. mentioned a little about what they're doing now, and then we walked quickly out of her room. I turned back and saw that she had already distracted herself with something. I pushed the keys to get out, and we walked down the hall. Pastor S. said, "That's the first time since she's been in here that she said the entire Lord's Prayer. I was a bit amazed, myself. It's odd what sticks and what doesn't stick, eh?

That was the end of our visit with my mom. I'm grateful that I got to be present when he said goodbye to her; to hear her say the Lord's Prayer; and to commune with her for what I suspect might be the last time. The visit was a good, if not sad, one, but I'm grateful for glimpses into who she "used" to be. I love Ma. I miss her a lot, too, though. And yet I remember, always remember, that she is loved.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Yesterday, I went to chapel. I often don't go on Mondays and Tuesdays, but because we celebrate Holy Communion on Wednesdays, I try to go faithfully on those days. I was also asked to serve as a communion assistant, and so that meant I absolutely HAD to go.

Boy, am I glad I did!

The Dean of the Chapel, the seminary President, and a junior (first year student) led worship. We were slated to have two babies baptized here, as well. The President preached a sermon that was pretty good, but that was not the part that rocked my face off.

The Dean of the Chapel went toward the entrance to the chapel where our font is. The font is a huge fishbowl looking thing on a wooden stand. The parents, babies, their siblings, and the sponsors all gathered back there. The Dean did the liturgy portion of praying and everything, and as I looked back, I saw the babies, and that they were wrapped in fluffy white towel/blanket type things. Then, I thought, "Those are naked little babies. They must be dipping them!"

Well, sure enough, the first baby was brought out of the blanket, and her dad dipped her (legs first) into the font. Then the Dean cupped his hands and baptized the baby in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. I was a little surprised at HOW MUCH water he poured over the baby. I thought, "Holy Cow, you're going to drown that baby!"

The same thing happened for the second little baby girl. Dip, pour, and a wee bit of crying. AND ALL THAT WATER splashed on the baby's head!

But then, I remembered that baptism IS a drowning of our sins and our old self! Wow!

That was awesome enough, but the thing that REALLY got me, was that right as each baby was brought out of the water and re-wrapped in the towel/blanket, the piano started up and the whole assembly started singing, "Halle, Halle, Halle-LUUUU-JAH! Halle, Halle, Haelle-LUUUU-Jah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!"

The singing just made me think that we on earth are echoing even just a little bit of what God and the heavenly host are singing at a new little person being clothed in Christ! How awesome!

Baptisms just do something for me anyway, but today's were two of THE most awesome baptisms I've ever seen. I think I might have something to consider doing when I eventually get to baptize people. :) Awesome.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Still Waiting

Well, dear readers, it's been almost a month since my last post. I've been bad about keeping this blog updated. Sincerest apologies.

There is still no real word on an internship site for me. They're working on it and are going to be talking with people who can (maybe) make it happen, so that's a plus. I'll hear something (good, bad, or ugly) later this week. We'll see.

On another front, I am getting married NEXT MONTH! It seems really crazy, but I am incredibly excited. J is a wonderful man and I can't wait until we are married. I really can't.

The wedding plans are coming along. Invitations should go out this coming week. We're going low key and "green" (yeah, that's it, all for the environment), so we're not having people mail RSVP cards back to us. Rather, the options are phone or email because we set up an email account specifically for RSVPs.

The big snafu is that my long-time pastor has accepted a call to another church. His last day is Easter Sunday and the bishop has said that he cannot come back to do the wedding. When Pastor told me that he was leaving, I was incredibly sad, not just because of the wedding, but because he's been the only pastor I've ever had. I do have a church out here at Seminary, but it's not quite the same. There are multiple layers to WHY I feel the way I do about this, but I don't want to bore you all with them. I think it suffices to say that I have loved and appreciated his presence in my life for the past thirteen years, and he will be deeply missed.

Other than that, things are coming along. School is school. Keeps me pretty busy, but not too busy. Maybe it's because I'm a procrastinator and so only am really busy when I'm working under a deadline. Who knows?

And that's about it. Sorry that there's not been anything "deep" lately. Maybe I'll work on that, maybe not. I don't know. I hope things are going well for all of you. Peace out.