Thursday, May 3, 2012

pondering conversion

It's no secret I'm a fan of the Sarcastic Lutheran.  But what she writes here about Phillip and the Ehtiopean Eunuch is especially ponder-worthy.

This is already one of my very favorite stories, but Nadia highlights something new - something I'd only really begun to think about.

Who was converted that day?  Philip? the Eunuch?  both?  (read it)

Then I started thinking of other conversions in scripture... like Peter's in Acts 10 ... 

"God has shown me that I should not call anyone impure or unclean...Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."

I started thinking about examples from movies and literature... like Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn ... Huck chooses to help Jim, even though he believes doing so will condemn him to hell.  

"It was a close place. I took it up, and held it in my hand. I was a-trembling, because I'd got to decide, forever, betwixt two things, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself:"All right, then, I'll GO to hell" -- and tore it up.It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming. "

I started thinking about Robert the Bruce, in Braveheart ... his father tells him that all men betray, all men lose heart.  He passionately retorts, 

"I don't want to lose heart!! I will never be on the wrong side again."

These aren't "bow your head and close your eyes and raise your hand and repeat this prayer after me" moments.  These are moments of life change.  Of repentance.  Of refusal to turn back no matter how many entreat, warn, or accuse you.

These are conversions.

I remember my own. It brings us full circle to Nadia and to Stuart.  She explains, there, that Stuart had converted his friends "again and again", to his faith.

Well, Stuart converted me, too.  I wrote this (below) nearly a year ago. I said, then, that I wouldn't turn back. I'm ashamed to admit I've been tempted to!  But I haven't. And I won't. Because now I know so many more Stuarts, and they convert me... again and again.

another post about the Wild Goose Festival.. 
While listening to Phyllis Tickle speak, I looked over my shoulder and saw The Sarcastic Lutheran standing right near me. I knew it was her even though I had no idea what her real name was (it's Nadia). I introduced myself, and we talked a bit when she suddenly asked, "Would you like to serve communion at the bluegrass liturgy this evening?" Now, ponder that with me: The Sarcastic Lutheran is asking the Waffling Presbyterian to serve communion at the Bluegrass Liturgy. WILD goose indeed! 
Of course I agreed, though I wasn't convinced I was "allowed".  
The service was ... well, it was heavenly! The music was familiar (bluegrass hymns!), the liturgy beautiful, and the sermon brilliant. Then it came time for communion. There were so many people that they set up several serving stations. I was assigned to a station along with Stuart, a member of Nadia's church.  Someone quickly threw out, "You know Stuart, right?  The tall, handsome gay guy with the mohawk!"  I literally had no clue what I was doing, and wondered how I'd find this Stuart person in such a sea of people.  
 Turns out it wasn't hard. :)
Stuart and I took our places - he served the bread, I served the wine. Each time someone walked up I watched him look deep into their eyes and say, "The body of Jesus, broken for you". Then I looked deep into their eyes and said, "The blood of Jesus, shed for you." Something washed over me as this process repeated over and over, over and over. I knew that I believed it, whole-heartedly. That whoever stood in front of me, no matter who they were or what they were or where they came from or where they were going, these words I spoke were true: "The blood of Jesus, SHED FOR YOU." I'm not getting into eucharist arguments here, that's not my point. My point is that I participated with the Spirit in an unmistakeable way as I communicated that Truth to every person who stood before me, inviting them to participate in it.
Every person. Every one. "God bless us, every one".
Then, when our line had ended, Stuart laid a gluten free wafer on my tongue, looked deep into my eyes, and said, "The body of Christ, broken for you." I was weeping by this point, but I handed him the cup and said, "The blood of Christ, shed for you." And we hugged.  
I knew then, that I'd never be able to go back.  And that I didn't want to.
Thank you, Sarcastic Lutheran. Thank you House For All Sinners and Saints. Thank you Stuart.

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