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Saturday, July 07, 2012

Shall we gather by the fountain?

While Bishop Michael Curry (NC) was preaching to the assembled General Convention at the daily 9:30 Eucharist, some of us were living out his sermon, entitled, "We need some crazy Christians".

At 10 AM this morning, approximately 18 varied and assorted Christians gathered in the lobby of the Westin Hotel in Indianapolis before processing to the fountain between the Westin and the Hyatt to baptize one of my dear friends.

I always thought my friend was an Episcopalian and, therefore, Christian. Turns out, I was wrong. She's ethnically and culturally - but not religiously - Jewish. She wanted to be baptized but didn't want to upset her very Jewish mother through her conversion.  She finally came to a place where she determined that she could do that for herself and not talk about it with her mother, so she asked me if I would baptize her.

Here. In Indianapolis.

We talked about doing this at the Cathedral and registering it there. I said I would get in touch with the Dean there and ask if that could be arranged, adding wistfully, "There's a great fountain in front of my hotel. We can always do it there, I suppose."

"Oh, can we?" she asked.

"Really?" I said.

"Yeah," she said, "I really like that idea".

And thus it came to pass that, at 10 AM this very morning, my friend was baptized as the newest member in the Household of God in the Fountain between the Hyatt and the Westin in Indianapolis, IN.

There were approximately 18 of us. My friend's husband and one of her daughters, her dear friend and his son, a few other friends, and then some people who heard what I was doing and asked if they could come along.

We "processed" over to the round tables in the picnic area near the fountain and found some shade from which to do the first part of the service. 

It was 97 degrees, with a heat index of 110.  At 10 AM.

The sweat was dripping off my brow and nose and trickling down onto the paper making it very hard to read.

Lord, have mercy!

The lessons for the day were for Conrad Weiser, an 18th century PenDutchman who was an unofficial diplomat to the Iroquois Nation from the new, immigrants who would become known as "Americans". Weiser was able to understand the Iroquois culture and speak their language and respect their traditions and, as the collect prayer says, "interpret each to the other with clarity and honesty". 

Seemed appropriate for the day.

The Gospel was from the High Priestly Prayer of Jesus (John 16:33-17:26) which was beautifully proclaimed by Jon Richardson.

Jon is a former seminarian of mine who has become a wonderful priest doing amazing work in his inner-city parish and is here as VP of Internal Affairs for IntegrityUSA.

Then, up the stairs we went to the fountain. It took every ounce of Anglican restraint I had not to invite everyone to jump into the water! Truth be told, I would have led the way.

Christ, have mercy!

I must say that, as I was blessing the water in the fountain, the thought crossed my mind that now, the entire fountain would be filled with 'Holy Water'. It caused me a moment's pause but as I saw a few shampoo and conditioner bottles floating around, I thought my little blessing wouldn't hurt and might help.

After the baptism, we processed back over to the picnic table where we had a lovely Right III extemporaneous Eucharist, presided over with eloquence and grace by another of my former seminarians, Michael Sniffen.

The loaf of bread was purchased from Shula's Restaurant at The Westin and there was a little container of red wine which came in a small "sippy box" and came from God only knows where.  I was afraid to ask.

Lord, have mercy!

Truth be told, it was better than some communion wines I've had in some churches. 

God is good. All the time.

Across the street at the Hyatt, a group of people were getting onto a large tourist bus. People smiled and waved and seemed delighted by our informal Eucharist.

Meanwhile, back in the ballroom in the JW Marriott down the street, Bishop Curry was preaching about needing some more "crazy Christians", saying:
We need some Christians who are as crazy as the Lord. Crazy enough to love like Jesus, to give like Jesus, to forgive like Jesus, to do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with God -- like Jesus.  Crazy enough to dare to change the world from the nightmare it often is into something close to the dream that God dreams for it.  And for those who would follow him, those who would be his disciples, those who would live as and be the people of the Way?  It might come as a shock, but they are called to craziness.
I don't know if what we did was a manifestation of a vocation to craziness. If it is, then Bishop Curry is right: the church needs more of this and less fussing about structures and how to keep the institution alive.

We need more crazy Christians who can look at a water fountain and see a baptismal font.

We need more crazy Christians who will come together as strangers and stand in 97 degree heat to be in solidarity with another soul who is committing her life to Jesus, even though her mother would disapprove and, in fact, be disappointed.

We need more crazy Christians who believe that wholeness and healing can come from being poured out and broken. 

We need more crazy Christians who reveal the love of God in Christ and struggle toward the goal of answering the High Priestly prayer of Jesus - to become one heart and mind as Jesus and God are, so that the joy of Jesus is completed in us.

One of the mysteries of our faith is that the institutional church can make you crazy enough to begin to live out the gospel in the best way you know how.

Which may well be outside the institutional church.

In a hotel courtyard.

Where a fountain becomes a baptismal font and another soul is brought to Jesus.


Mary Beth said...

So glad to hear the "whole" story on this one. Thanks be to God!!

Kathy Rooney said...

Now that is what I call "doing Church".

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Love it. Simply love it.

IT said...

Preach it! that is awesome. I'm thrilled, yes, me! And my wife has tears of joy to hear it. So delighted that you did this wild and crazy and totally Christian thing. Maybe there's hope yet.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Mary Beth - Oh, there's more to the story but this is all the news that fit to print.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kathy - It most certainly was.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Kirke - You would have loved being there. Just your cuppa tea.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

IT - It was wild and wonderful and thoroughly Christian. said...

Your fourth sentence from the end is a blessing. Thank you. with love, Penny

Anonymous said...

You're absolutely right, Elizabeth. We need more Christians like you. The main problem with The Episcopal Church is that not enough of us do as you do and think as you think.

Actually, that's the main problem with the world. I wish God had thought of that before creating just one of you!

it's margaret said...

Like. Very Much!!!!

Jeffri Harre said...

Once again, Elizabeth, you show us how to BE the church. Thank you for sharing this story.

Matthew said...

Fabulous. Love it. Crazy indeed. When I was in college I converted to judaism (mainly for a man i was dating and thought i loved). I took all the classes, etc. Then years later when I made my way back to the church I met Jews who were interested in baptism. It can be a difficult family dilemma for both sides and was for my family who could not imagine me as Jewish. And vice versa. But I have very fond memories of my years in Judaism and spoke to my old rabbi just last month. It's all of god. And I understand the guilt too and not wanting family to know. I felt guilty leaving Christianity and didn't want my family to know. And, still I feel guilty now because of the vows I made in a synagogue that I am not keeping because I went back to the church and the Jewish community felt like I rejected them after I joined it.

Jane R said...


JCF said...

Maybe there's hope yet.

You betcha, IT. You'll be doing the "vampire" thing from the sippy box yet---here's hopin'! ;-)

TBTG for our new sister/RoyalPriest-in-Christ, and for the People of God gathered around the fountain! And God bless TEC's GC!

Les Singleton said...

Wow! This is the BEST news I have read from General Convention.
((And, I've just got to ask, without being rude...where will this baptism be registered...other than God's Book of Life, which is the most important register.))
This is indeed a HAPPY story.
Les Singleton, Vicar, Mediator, Micanopy, FL

Allie said...

The sippy box of wine was from Target (pronounced Tar-j'ey)

Anonymous said...

Now THAT is practicing what the Bishop was preaching: Be Crazy and Go Ye Into ALL The World to Preach the Gospel! I'd just watched the sermon; it was good to get this lesson right along with it. Thanks for sharing.

Susan Jaeger said...

Utterly delightful and so inspiring! Thank you for sharing this Good News.

janinsanfran said...

Love it! My partner was baptized in a fountain in downtown Portland, Oregon, lo these many years ago. She approves.

When, much later, she decided she should be an Episcopalian, fortunately the clergyperson of the moment was not horrified to learn of this.

whiteycat said...

I would say that Shekinah was leaping for joy and jumping all over the place! You go, girl! Keep on living the gospel. Wish I could have been there.

June Butler said...

Beautiful, just beautiful. Now that's doing church! Blessings and congratulations to our sister.

Kirkepiscatoid said...

Elizabeth, I'm sure I would have loved it. You have already figured out I'm all about "sacramental stuff in the most unlikely of places." LOL

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Penny - Thank you m'dear.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Well, shoot, Anonymous, if you're going to say such nice things, leave your name.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Les - I've sent the information to the Cathedral and asked that it be registered there.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Allie - High class stuff. ;~D

Kittredge Cherry said...

Love the photos! Great storytelling! Reading your account is even better than being there.

John J. Trenberth said...

Did you hear 'My People in whom I'm well pleased' resounding off the surrounding walls. Because I'm sure they heard it in heaven.