One of the last times I was with them, they baptized triplets, and the altar servers happened to be triplets, as well--all three boys, about the age of nine or ten. Chris and John, the parents of the babies, proudly paraded in with their four-month-olds, followed by an entourage of godparents. Usually, you only see that many people around the altar at Communion. We all joined in the blessing with raised hands, in acknowledgement that they will need triple prayers.
Kayley, one of the newly baptized triplets, was having none of it. She wailed bitterly when the priest dumped water on her forehead. Back in her seat she continued to cry, only it didn't sound like the cry of a four-month-old baby. It was more like the shrill, withering wail of an old woman with no teeth, an accusing, "youdidn'ttellmeit wouldbelikethis" minus the consonants--a little like the Wicked Witch of the West, crying out and shriveling up as she melted away in the Wizard of Oz.
But today was different. I watched the families, filing in with their kids. All of the teenagers came in together and sat up front. They were in charge of the service. And they were, I want to add, splendid. Prepared, and fully alert. I sat a third of the way back, watching this kind congregation, appreciating their full participation in the liturgy. They seemed grateful, and steady, and familiar, in their mostly blue-jeaned attire. And then I thought, "These are the people You send out with Your Spirit, O God, into our culture. These are the people who serve and pray and live and work, and carry truth into the community. They go out every week from this place, sent by You to be salt and light."
There's nothing sophisticated about it. It's warm, and human and real; it's raw and undressed-up. And something for which I am filled with gratitude.