January 06, 2014
I’m writing this on Epiphany, the day after we put our Christmas tree on the curb and decorations in the attic. Yesterday, the pastor of the church I visited reminded us that the celebration of Christmas is just beginning…encouraging us to shine with the light of Christ in a dark world. And today, as part of the Massachusetts Council of Churches, I celebrated Armenian Christmas at St. Stephen’s Church in Watertown. So the season lingers (but the fudge is gone…)
I was especially grateful to experience a brand new thing in worship this morning. The Divine Liturgy at St. Stephen’s culminated in a remembrance of Jesus’ baptism, including a very special water blessing. The cross was immersed in a baptismal font and blessed oil poured from a dove-shaped container into the bath invoking the Spirit. Later, the faithful were invited to take home (in actual takeout containers like those used for fish sauce with my eggrolls) their own share of the holy water. Some parishioners took several containers for their family members who didn’t show up for worship. Others brought their own Mason jars and other vessels to get a supersized portion. Now, the rituals vary as to what happens when they get home. Most of the Americanized members said they use it in cooking, so that each member of their family intakes some of the blessing. Others, especially those directly from Armenia, sprinkle the water in the corners of their homes, place a drop on each icon and cross, anoint the parts of the body of each family member where they need healing or strength, and also as a remembrance of the saving grace of baptism.
This might be too late by the time you read this, but maybe there is something here you can use in your service this Sunday as we celebrate the Baptism of our Lord. At the very least, make sure your font is full of water. Go further and invite people to touch it and remember their own gift of grace. Still further, use the baptismal remembrance liturgy from our Book of Worship or the General Board of Discipleship worship planner. And even further…go pick up some takeout containers and send your folks home with their very own share of the blessed water for their own homes and families.
These are ordinary days in the church calendar…but your worship experiences can be extraordinary when you let the Spirit in and your creativity flow.
Connected in Christ,