I wrote this piece several years ago and was reminded of it yesterday during a baptism and so I offer it now.
“And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Child, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.’”
After all those years as the preacher’s kid or the preacher, I can’t quite shake the habit of Sunday morning services. These days I often attend an odd spiritual community that meets in a rehabbed downtown storefront. We sit in folding chairs arranged in concentric circles around a delicately carved sculpture of the earth hanging from the ceiling. The band plays pop, folk, and reggae standards in their own jazzy style.
A renegade and now defrocked Methodist minister, who also happens to be a jazz musician, started this community (which is not a church and does not worship, but celebrates, and not in a sanctuary but in the celebration center, and has no sermons, though the minister stands and talks for 20 minutes every week … you get the idea). Jubilee, as it is named, likes to call itself interfaith because we can point to a handful of Buddhists and Jews and Pagans among the membership and plenty of folks who don’t like the idea of going to church, much less a Christian church. Nonetheless, it is a church with a Christian minister who routinely performs more or less Christian baptisms.
Which routinely make me cry. Continue Reading →