* I promise I will do post 3 of my Common Core series next! But when the muse comes, I gotta listen to it!
They tell me I was six years old. It was a Sunday night, and after my dad’s sermon I came to the altar to ask Jesus into my heart. My dad came down to kneel and pray with me. My mom might have left her spot at the piano and come down, too. That morning, another little girl in the church had come to the altar, too. Later, when I was older and couldn’t remember that moment, I was worried that I was just being a copycat. But my parents assured me that I seemed sincere.
One warm afternoon in fourth grade, our class had gone outside for recess. My friend Tara and I were lying in the grass, staring up at the wide blue sky, trying to find shapes in the clouds. Tara was Catholic, which was something I did not really understand. I only knew that if I spent the night with her on a Saturday, my parents would pick me up to go to our church Sunday morning. Back then I thought that Catholic meant wrong. “Tara, you know you can confess your sins straight to God, right? You don’t have to go through a priest,” I said. She brought her hand to her forehead to shield her eyes from the sun. “I know,” she said. “I talk to God sometimes on my own.” I didn’t say anything for a second. Tara had surprised me. I saw a cloud that looked a little bit like an angel. Finally, I said, “That’s good.”
In high school, I asked my Korean friend, MinJung, when she had become a Christian. She looked confused. “I just always have been,” she said. “I’ve gone to church since I was a baby and have just always loved God.” I was stunned, initially. How could she not have had a salvation moment? Yet I knew from MinJung’s life – her actions and words – that she was a Christian and that she loved Jesus. Later, there was a day when MinJung, our Thai friend Tina, and I met at Tina’s house. We decided to share prayer requests and pray together. MinJung said, “Let’s claim that verse! For when two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” (Matt. 18:20) One by one, each of us prayed in our own language: MinJung in Korean, Tina in Thai, me in English. Then we opened our eyes, our hands still clasped, our eyes wet with tears. Our God could understand all languages and cultures. Our God was big enough to know us all. He was big enough to embrace our different salvation stories.
No one asks me if I’m saved here. No one says, “born again.” All my motions tell them I am. I cross myself with my first three fingers pulled together to show them I believe in the Trinity, my last two fingers folded down to show them I believe in the dual natures of Christ. When I cross myself, I end at my heart. That place where Jesus lives. I go forward for communion, my physical self hungry from the pre-liturgy fast, my spiritual self hungry for Jesus. I take the elements, and I remember the sacrifice he made for me. Here, being saved is happening. It has happened, and it is happening, and it will happen. I come here, not just because I am saved, but to continue to become saved. My salvation is no longer just a one-time moment at an altar long ago; my salvation is a sacramental, intentional, mystical journey. Every movement, every prayer, every hymn is a movement toward God, an entrance into His salvation story.
What is your salvation story?