|Sabrina, Stephen, Jamie, Brandon, Camille and Pastor Brashear|
The winter seems to be passing. At last. Palms cover the steps of West-Park. (And in the sharing of palms we share the commemoration of Christ’s passion with our friends from Advent Lutheran and their pastor Elise.) People who look like they’ve wandered in from a mid-European shtetl or even the Warsaw ghetto are on the steps, saying shalom, passing out palms to those who enter, those who pass by.
Inside, once again, our friends from Theatre Dzieci will lead us through an experience of Matthew’s Passion in what has become an annual tradition. As the scroll is unwrapped and the strains of hinay ma tov umanayim begin to unfold, it has the feel of a story passed on within a community. A story of and in community. We are reminded of course that the story began as a Jewish story, but through the lens of the particular we view the universal. Thus the Yeshua character is not only a community member remembered and loved but a universal figure of redemptive (we hope) suffering. The feeling that this story has been told over and over again affirms a sense of redemption without being explicit.
On a deeper level, the shifting of characters is a classic expression of reformed theology. We are all the maschiach. And we are all the betrayer Judas. The impulsive and cowardly Peter. The empire collaborating religious establishment and the closest of friends. As in any good parable, we are all the characters. Who can live through the most profound losses and still go on, even with an undetermined future. The gathered community exits the sanctuary with an affirming sense of hope. The sanctuary is hushed and silent.
But this Palm/Passion Sunday is different. For there is something to celebrate as well. The baptism of Brandon Manuel Ayala, son of Jamie and Camille Padilla Ayala. Grandson of Luis and Alma. This is our first baptism in three years and this marks five generations of this family in our church. Luis was one of the rocks who led our return from exile. Good to see him back.
Elder Samantha presents Brandon for baptism. Deacon Stephen and Sabrina are the godparents. Jeremy leads us into the ceremony with take me to the water. And later Baptized in water, to the tune of Morning has broken. The right questions are asked. And answered. Dion and Deacon John hold the Occupy Font. I will bless the water and add in drops of the Jordan River water Pastor Alistair brought back to us from his Holy Land trip. Brandon will screw up his brow and look at me quizzically as I touch his head with water. The people applaud. We gather in a circle. Sing Amen. Which little Xavier loves. And wish each other peace. It’s been a beautiful Sunday.
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The Koreans are coming in soon. They had a big gathering Friday night. This morning one of the counter guys at Greengrass said, What was happening Friday night? Saw lots of our people…