by Carolyn Albright, Ripple Allentown
This year on Good Friday, Ripple participated in the West End Ecumenical Worship, which involved a procession of the cross, ending at the host church, where 5 congregations joined for a 3 hour worship service. Each church was responsible for leading worship for a 1/2 hour slot.
We had announced this for many weeks in advance so many Ripple folks showed up on our front porch, which was along the processional route, where we joyfully and willingly joined the procession, which had started at the Episcopal church just a few blocks away. Isaiah, 6, and his sister, Marinette, 8, regular “Ripple Kids,” were the first to speak up to help carry the cross.
As we solemnly walked along, one woman stopped her car, jumped out, and took photos of us with her cell phone. Others slowed down as they drove past, and once, while crossing a street as the light changed, the drivers respectfully let us pass, as they would have a funeral procession (ironic). As Isaiah tired of carrying the heavy cross, he readily asked for help and for someone else to take a turn. For me, this was a symbol of the community building that goes on at Ripple; we all carry one another’s burdens at different times, and he so innocently enacted this truth.
Getting closer to the church, Isaiah also innocently asked (after observing the newspaper photographer snapping hundreds of photos), “Are we in a parade?”
“Sort of,” I responded, explaining that we were remembering the day Jesus died on the cross, showing us his love for us.
“THIS cross?” Isaiah asked.
“Not exactly, but one just like it,” I answered.
Inside the church, with its stained glass windows, formal pews and high altar, the children became respectfully quiet. During Ripple’s part of the worship, Isaiah helped with the prayer, repeating a regular phrase he has learned at Ripple. I said, “God loves the world,” and he joyfully responded, “And Jesus loves me!”
And that’s the simple message Ripple spreads, as we carry the cross–and one another’s burdens–in this urban setting.