May 11, 2006

Mother's Day and Baptism In addition to our recent post on Mother’s Day I would add a few more seeds for thought. During the season of Easter it is appropriate to remember our baptism each Sunday service. In re-membering our baptism we are re-minded that God has claimed us as children and we have made promises to God to live into the life of Christ. This means promises to serve others (especially the “least of these”), to be faithful to prayer, breaking bread and taking care of the community of faith as any has need (yes, I’m evoking the last part of Acts chapter 2). During the rite of baptism the community also makes vows to love, care and nurture those God is claiming through water and the Spirit. We are also called to nurture each other in the faith. Remembering our baptism this Mother’s Day may be a way to honor both the season of Easter and mothers. You may begin the service standing by the font, giving thanks for water, God’s promises to us and reminding the community of the promises we make to each other during the time of baptism. One resource for remembering baptism can be found from the ELCA’s Holy Baptism and Related Rites. Perhaps on this day we can accentuate the vows to love and care for one another. This is a way you can talk about how mothers, at their best, who live into these promises of baptism through their care and nurture of children (not just their own but all children of the community). In this way mothers, and Mother’s Day points back to baptism and a life in Christ as opposed to the worship pointing to a cultural holiday. The picture is of a baptismal font from a mosaic on the floor of Coventry Cathedral in Coventry, England.
Singing Pentecost Music adds many layers of meaning - subtle or obvious - to the drama of scripture. Take Pentecost for example. The story in Acts 2 is rich with allusion, imagery, history, narrative - all of which have filled many books and many sermons. If we frame the reading of the story with a musical response sung by the congregation, we encourage the worshipping community to glimpse more of those layers. More than glimpse: experience. It is the prophet Joel's story: though he'd lived long before New Testament times, his presence continued to be felt. Repeating the refrain reminds us of the prophetic witness that informs this account of the event. It is a Jewish story: there were many Jewish renewal movements before, during and after Jesus' time. The events described by Luke took place during Shavu'oth, the harvest festival, with Jewish pilgrims gathered in Jerusalem from all over the known world. The music below is in the form of a hora, a Jewish dance of celebration. Even though the composition is modern - and we of course do not know how the music of the time of Jesus sounded - the music itself can give us a flavour of the times. This is our story: singing a response allows us to both listen and participate in it. The music lives in our soul long after we've left the worship space, drawing us back into the story to experience new insight. Singing also gives children an access into the scripture reading: they can remember short texts and repeated melodies and rhythms. Parents in my church community often ask me how to get their children to stop singing - over and over and over - music they learned in church. For a downloadable .pdf file of this song, click here. For an .mp3 file to listen to, click here.

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