It's such a relief to be part of the Body of Christ again. To look forward to Sunday's spiritual refreshment instead of dreading picking over a list of yet another church to try. And honestly? In some ways, I wonder if I've ever really functioned as part of the Body until now.
When we walked in to this church, we felt immediately at home - despite it being dramatically different from anything we have ever experienced - and we really haven't had the desire to go elsewhere since.
Truth be told, however, we initially tried this denomination in desperation. We had been through just about every Protestant/non-Baptist/non-Pentecostal church in town, and couldn't find *anywhere* that worshipped and glorified God instead of manipulating and glorifying man. I was reassured enough to walk in the door once my research revealed that this denomination is a main branch of the Protestant Reformation and believes in the cardinal doctrines of the faith. Not exactly what I'd been taught about Episcopalians to this point in my life.
I can hear the gasps now. EPISCOPALIAN?!? As my own mother said - "They're practically Catholic!" Well, no. There's liturgy, sure. But remember, I work for Catholics. It's like saying they're the same person because they're both blond and wearing a blue shirt. Besides, Catholics aren't that bad, so I don't see a huge problem.
Why does this church feel like home when it is So. Very. Different?
- Scripture-drenched worship. More scripture than any Fundamentalist service we have ever been in, hands down - even more than the relatively decent Fundamentalist halfway-house church we left behind. The solid orthodoxy in the prayers and homilies. The beauty that makes me weep every week. (The rector probably thinks I'm a headcase - which I am, but that's another post.) The Gospel is truly proclaimed in multiple manifestations throughout the service.
- No guilt trips. Ever.
- The people were kind to us from the minute we walked in (in both Episcopal churches we visited, actually). And not that syrupy-sweet "nice", I mean really kind. Loving, even. They weren't blustery, judgy, or fake. They were genuinely interested in who we were and what we did and how we got to town. They had no qualms about admitting they forgot our names from last week and asking again. They didn't latch on in cultish desperation like some other churches we visited. They exuded a depth of character we were drawn to. We felt no ulterior motives for their actions, and the interactions were much more emotionally healthy. What a refreshing change from a church where everyone is trying so desperately hard to appear perfect.
We have membership classes coming up in a few weeks, and I'm very interested in learning more about the nuances of Episcopal theology. I am well aware that I might fuss over a few points once I really sink my teeth into them. But you know what? That's ok. From what I've read, you can be an Episcopalian and have some relatively out there or alternatively some pretty orthodox beliefs. The unity of the Body is so important that you spend your time dialoguing rather than separating over triteness - which is so completely opposite of Fundamentalism that it's mind-boggling.
And the opposite of Fundamentalism is a good start.