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August 16, 2016

This past Sunday, we celebrated a wonderful baptism. Ying, known to many of us as Angel, was baptized into the Christian faith and into membership at Grace. She was beyond thrilled and it was a gift to all who were present to witness the event.
Perhaps you’ve met Ying—she’s been with us at Grace for a few months now. She is a doctor in China, and she’s been here this summer visiting her son, Max, a graduate student at the University. Despite an extreme language barrier, Ying has very much been a part of our community, coming daily to pray, volunteer, worship, feed, and generally brighten the lives of all who are around.
Ying has worked hard to learn some English words and phrases while she’s here and one of her favorite words is “Yes!” She always says it with an exclamation point—crystal clear and with great enthusiasm—she says YES whenever she can.
And so, when it came time to put together a baptismal service that would be meaningful for her (so many English words!!!), we used the word yes as often as we could. None of the formal I do’s that we usually say in response to the questions the baptismal service walks us through; rather, a simple but exuberantly stated (and well understood) YES!
When asked about her support and nurture of Ying in her new Christian faith, Jill Abenth, Ying’s chosen sponsor, said YES!
When you, our congregation, was asked to support and pray for Ying in her new life in Christ, you said YES!
When Ying herself was asked if she renounced the forces that defy and rebel against God, the ways of sin that draw her away from God, she answered three times YES! YES! YES! And one more to the question of whether she desired to be baptized. YES! she said.
I don’t know that we’ve ever had someone so excited to be baptized. Ying’s radiant smile, her excitement in greeting her new sisters and brothers in Christ at Grace, her joy at seeing the cake in her honor downstairs at coffee time—well, I won’t forget it anytime soon.
It was an honor to work with Ying and Max to prepare her for baptism. We talked about several “key concepts,” taking all the time it took to translate conversation (both ways) well. One key concept was Big Love—God’s Big Love for the world—everyone, no exceptions, always and no matter what. Ying adores this idea of God’s Big Love—she claps her hands in joy when we talk about it.
Another key concept we talked about was YES. God says YES to us just exactly as we are. God says YES to us in baptism. God says YES to us each and every day. YES is what we call Grace. YES is God’s Big Love. YES is What It’s All About.
It reminds me of one of my favorite poems (below)—it hangs inside a cabinet door in our kitchen. I read it often—it’s always been a good reminder of God’s grace for me. And now it will serve to remind me, as well, of this dear Chinese woman who has so captured our hearts. YES YES YES!
Pastor Melanie

God Says Yes To Me
I asked God if it was okay to be melodramatic
and she said yes
I asked her if it was okay to be short
and she said it sure is
I asked her if I could wear nail polish
or not wear nail polish
and she said honey
she calls me that sometimes
she said you can do just exactly
what you want to
Thanks God I said
And is it even okay if I don't paragraph
my letters
Sweetcakes God said
who knows where she picked that up
what I'm telling you is
Yes Yes Yes

—Kaylin Haught


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