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".
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.
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.
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 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.