Letter from America (1)

I think we experienced a pretty broad range of church today.

This morning we were at St Mark’s, the church we have made our home while we are here in Columbus.  God was there in the serenity of the building, the echo of the music, in the depth and unfussiness of the liturgy, and in the warmth of the people.  This morning was more special than usual because Joanna and Daniel sang in a robed choir for the first time (and in parts, too!).  I had a proud parent moment at how grown up they are getting (even though Daniel looked tiny in his cassock!).  I saw them take their place as ministers not just as children but as musicians and worship leaders, and I rejoiced at how their music brought heaven and earth closer. 

Then this afternoon we went to our neighbours’ garden to witness their teenage daughter baptise one of her friends in the swimming pool, alongside five other baptism candidates from their church, each of whom had chosen who would baptise them – often the people who had been most instrumental in bringing them to faith. It was an occasion full of joy, completely informal, completely humane, and completely full of God. 

I was moved by both events: I saw my own children take a step in their journey of life and faith this morning, and then as I heard the testimonies this afternoon I found myself hoping that my children will grow up to speak and sing of God and life so fearlessly and with such love.  The words and gestures that we use and the ways that we express our faith are so richly diverse, yet it is the same love, the same life, the same grace that animates all praise. 

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