Monday, January 13, 2014

An Awkwardly Good Baptism Remembrance

Yesterday we celebrated the Baptism of the Lord in all of our worship services.  Although my main assignment on Sunday mornings is to preach at our contemporary service, I also float around to our other (traditional) worship services as a liturgist and occasional preacher.

Our second traditional style worship service serves communion every week, it's a different layout than most traditional services to accommodate the sacrament and it was something we had planned around for our liturgy of baptism remembrance.  Yes, I realize that our Book of Worship liturgies highly suggest that you serve Holy Communion following the remembrance, but ... well ... logistics.

So, we stuck faithfully to the service of baptism remembrance in the UMBOW, nothing fancy.  Our pastor went through the liturgy and poured the water.  I then walked the basin up the center aisle, stopping every few paces, calling on the people to remember their baptisms and be thankful.  Pretty standard stuff!  I then walked the basin back up and place it on the altar table to proceed with communion.  

That's when and awkward miracle happened.

I had the center station and we were going through the line at a good clip.  No nonsense whatsoever.

But then, a woman who I'd never met before stepped forward in line.  I'd already broken off a piece of bread for her when she looked at me and said, "Can I go up and touch the water?  I just want to touch the water."

I glanced back up the stairs to the basin and then back at her and said, "Go right ahead."

She quickly, boldly, walked up the steps and touched the water, and walked back down to get back in line for communion.

The choir member serving with me looked slightly mortified while this was going on and asked me what she was doing.  I just looked at her and shrugged, "She just wanted to touch the water."

Sometimes the Spirit calls on us to drop the formalities for a second.  I would never say that our traditional services are too traditional or rigid, but they are 'high church' to be sure - and done very, very well.  But sometimes, we just need to let people touch the water.  I was proud to be this woman's pastor yesterday, even though this easily could have crept into worship blooper territory.  It was a bold move to walk up those steps and touch that water in remembrance.

Things like that can happen when a person is in the Spirit.  I'm thankful to have been a part of that simple, awkward, moment.