1/12/2013

The Episcopal Church of Haiti: Resurrection reality

If anyone asks, "Is the Church in Haiti OK?" The answer is, "OK? Better, it has died with the dead and has arisen with the living, Jesus Christ having gone before."

Today I was thankful to be part of the Service on the occasion of the Third Anniversary of the Earthquake of 12 January 2010 at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port-au-Prince. Thankful is a stupid word to use... I was filled with relief and joy.  

The Service took the form of a Requiem for those who have died, and as with all burial services it is a Resurrection driven occasion. The title of the service was "Haiti, leve-toi et marche."  Somewhere between Lazarus who was told to get up and walk and Jesus Christ who rose from the dead is the fullness of the joy of this service, one that remembered profoundly the death and destruction that awful day but that also knows that Haiti and the Church in Haiti has indeed gotten up and is walking, marching on. 

The Presiding Bishop, Katharine Jefferts-Schori was celebrant and preacher, and Bishops Duracin and Beauvoir of Haiti and Bishop Sauls of the Church Center were concelebrants.  Bishop Marc Andrus, bishop of California was also present in the congregation, as part of a group that had come to see the Church in action here. 

The music was wonderful, from the choir singing a mass written by Everett Titcomb and the orchestra of Holy Trinity playing Bach and Mozart. I was able to tape a bit of " Vous, les veilleurs et vous le saints" (Ye watchers and ye holy ones). I will include it here when internet access is easier. It keeps dropping just before complete upload.


But I must confess I could not record the songs that most struck me- by which I mean brought me to tears. The one that did it was "Quel repos celeste, Jesus, d'etre a toi!" with the chorus "Quel repos! Quel repos! Quel repos Quel celeste repose." (all of this the French version of "It is well with my soul.") It was astounding. Here 500-700 Haitian Episcopalians, all of whom have lost close family members or loved ones to the earthquake, three years after the event, proclaiming that all is well with my soul. Anyone who doubts the power of the community of faith could not come and doubt here.

And everything about the service carried that same astounding wonder, that in the midst of death there is life, and that life in Christ and in the community of those who love and do not fear is greater than death. 

I don't have words for it.

I am willing to say that I am in some ways spiritually exhausted, two months into being in Haiti and absorbing all that means while at the same time being a stranger in a strange land and absolutely at home all at once. So it hit me even more than I expected. But tears of joy I did not expect.

As moving as that song and the whole service was, more moving was the reading from the Revelation of John (21:2-7) by a boy no more than ten or so, in precise clear French so clear that even I understood every word!  More than clear, his reading was the child leading us to the place were when he proclaimed in the child voice of the ONE who speaks to John, "je suis l'Alpha et l'Omega, le Principe et la Fin" we all damn near melted with the words. At the end it was true, "je serai son Dieu, et li sera mon fils." 

The Presiding Bishop gave the homily, called "Homelie de Circonstance."  It was short, given the circumstance - namely that the New Jerusalem had been proclaimed. There was little to do but underline what the child had read.  Those who know the way through death and for whom it has no dominion will have God as their God and will be God own.

The Presiding Bishop, always good at this sort of thing, was wonderful. She spoke in French, presided with great dignity, and was deeply touched. She was there FOR the people of the Diocese, and they knew it. She was indeed chief pastor.
 
The other wonderful song in the service was the Lord's Prayer, "Papa nou" done with drums and a wonderful repeat clapped chant. 

Sometimes I go to funerals and memorials and all people can remember is the death and the sadness it brings. But here, here in this temporary wonderful cathedral with its tin roof and open sides, here people were one in their astounding faith that beyond the grief and awful misery there is the land of promise, in which we live now.

If anyone asks, "Is the Church in Haiti OK?  You can say, "It is better than OK. It is alive and on the march, it has been raised.    

5 comments:

Caminante said...

Mon très cher Marc, je n'ai pas vraiment de paroles non plus, seulement des larmes de plusieurs sens à lire ton récit, tout en sachant que je suis bien contente que tu sois là comme témoin et puisses nous dire comment c'était ce matin et oui, sans doute, le peuple haitien sait comment chanter.

Leonard Clark said...

That was exactly the homily I needed, and wanted, to hear this morning at the foot of the volcano in Guatemala...thank you and thanks to the solidly faithfilled Episcopalians of Haiti for helping us find our way.

Leonard Ricardo/Len

Grandmère Mimi said...

Mark, thank you for bringing us the Good News from the church in Haiti. Your post was quite moving and brought tears to my eyes.

it's margaret said...

Thanks be to God!

JCF said...

I second...um, *fifth* (how very Pisky! ;-p) what's been said. God bless Haiti---God bless TEC in Haiti!