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.
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.