My Easter began at St. Paul's, Sparks with an eclectic and moving Easter Vigil Service. They do good liturgy there in a church well adorned for the occasion with flowers, streamers, candles, and all the trappings. After the service we had a country hoedown with line dancing an country music kicked off by Toby Keith's "I Love This Bar" -- with lyrics espousing a kind of secular inclusive catholicity. A good time was had by all. St. Paul's is a lively place growing larger and younger these days. That's what happens when you put a good bunch of clergy (Kirk, Chip, and Kathy) together with a good bunch of laity.
The next morning was Easter at Pryamid Lake Reservation. Before the early service at Wadsworth, the worship leaders were smudged with sage in the tradional Paiute way of blessing and purifying, comparable to the European use of incense. Ed Ely in Nixon had blessed water from the sacred lake, also using tradional Paiute prayers. We had a huge turnout in Wadworth despite the fact we had fewer than usual baptisms. There were around twice as many people as last year. One of the baptisms was an adult, Norman. He had a broken gas guage on his truck so he ran out of gas on the way to the service but was just barely able to coast to a gas station. Grace abounds, and Norman was determined. Good on him!
At Nixon, we had only one baptism so attendance dipped just slightly, but given the low baptisms, it was really an excellent turnout. And we had a fabulous feast aferward.
We have a special mission on the Reservation. There are practioners of tradtional Native Spirtuality, and there are Protestants who insist that the Native traditions are pagan evils to be deplored by Chrstians. We are the place where First Nations people can stay true to their culture and the ways of their ancestors and follow the gospel of Christ. The gospel is not about European culture. It is a flower that can grow in different soils. Seeing the gospel in these different contexts reaveals its essence and keeps us from confusing it with the social norms of our own backgrounds.
Pryamid Lake Reservation is a place rich in history and tradition. It is also a land with a deep sacredness. I wrote this poem after a solitary visit to the lake during a windstorm.
swoops over bare snow mountains
down, down onto Pyramid Lake,
blue water skidding
away from shore, not to.
windblown mist twin, not spray,
races across, above
toward island peaks
– how far?
at the edge,
dip my fingers
into mysterium tremendum
and cross myself with fascinans.
in wet sand,
face wind-grit stung,
I can find