In the last month or so I have been deeply in tune with my reasons for being a part of a church that I wouldn’t call my “home church”. While I am searching for all the truths this world has to offer, I have found that the Episcopal church allows for two crucial things: the freedom to wonder and the freedom to fail. I think both of these come so easily to the people I have met within the denomination because Grace is the emphasis. Even people I have met that were raised in the Episcopal church but no longer identify as a “church-person” have this grace-filled attitude.
There are so many times in my experience as an ESC member that I have felt unsure about my future with this body of faith. But, as I said, this last month has been a reminder to me of the things I am sure of. I love to make lists when I’m writing, I find that I am able to dissect my own thoughts for others without being too wordy. So here’s a short list (not including Grace) of my reasons for loving the Episcopal church for this season of my life:
1. History. There is so much history in this denomination. The liturgy, the prayers, The Book of Common Prayer. It’s all so rich! How surreal it is to me that we say the exact prayers being prayed hundreds and hundreds of years ago. It allows me to be connected to those who came before me. I heard it said that the “communion of saints” referenced in the Apostles Creed is easy to access when we pray what former Christians have prayed. We can jump into the bottomless pool of prayers with our historical floaties on. I also think there is less ego in some of these prayers, because Priests aren’t writing them to appear clever or more holy. They are chosen for their orientation to God for years and years. I deeply appreciate this.
2. Modernity. Odd that I would choose two seemingly opposite qualities as the top two reasons I enjoy this church. If you are familiar with this body of faith, it won’t surprise you at all. Because like me, I am hoping you have come in contact with Episcopalians who don’t let things get in the way of walking with people as they walk with Christ. By “things” I do mean the big, controversial issues that we deal with in the contemporary Church. I have found that gender, sexual preference, lifestyle and background have no bearing on the willingness of priests, lay ministers or congregation members to love and welcome a new person. Every week, Rebecca (our rector and ColoESC director) says “All are welcome at this table” when communion is ready to be served. She means it and I like that. In the context of our growing social landscape, I like that the Episcopal church heads prayerfully into discussions about important spiritual matters but wants to help all people find the heart of Christ.
To be clear, I don’t think that all Episcopalians appreciate the depth of their history, nor do I think all Episcopalians are as welcoming as others, but that is a matter for another day. For me, the relationship between history, grace and modernity is so important. Because there is an understanding of the broadness and richness of Christianity (history), the church leaves so much room for the humanness of us all (Grace) and is then able to move past the sometimes divisive cultural issues we deal with (modernity). I have received lots of Grace in the last month and I am so grateful. What a real blessing it has been.