spirits that speak


into the rest of life

i stopped going to church, unofficially, back in may or june of 2009. i had been going to a church for about 6 or 7 years that just didn't seem right. lots of good people, but the church and i just weren't clicking. i didn't seem to be fitting in anywhere, even with those in my peer group.

after a summer of almost never going, i was "challenged" (as my priest has now defined it). the warden and i were talking about church and the fact that i hadn't really been going. essentially, she said "you don't have to go to our church, but you're not getting away with never going to church anymore." so i decided to visit this church i'd been aware of for some time.

i had been wanting to visit for quite some time because, over the last few years, i was aware of it and knew several people who attended there. i also attended some events spear-headed by the priest of this particular church. things like a lecture about j.r.r. tolkien, and a round-table type dicussion about "christian" media. it turns out this church does things like that regularly. i don't think anything, in particular, kept me from visiting this whole time. just laziness i guess. so, with that "challenge" having been left in my court, i finally went to the anglican church i had been thinking about for a few years.

actually, i'm not sure i was ever visitng. now that i've been there, it feels like it's where i always should have been, and where i would always go as long as i live where i do. once was enough to keep me there. if you're reading this and you're familiar with the feeling of coming or being home, that's what i feel in this place.

i'm not sure if it's any one element. the incense; the bells; the style of communion; the reverence offered by long-standing tradition...they all help focus me on what i, and all the faithful, should always do with our lives: worship. i've also become aware, thanks to this home-coming i think, that i've been letting my faith become lapsed over the past couple of years. it was gradual, it seems. a kind of erosion. but i think that's being repaired now. don't call it a comeback, it's been here for years. i've only recently been reminded that it's there. the faith, that is.

it doesn't hurt that my priest is one of the coolest dudes i know. someone who understands that a person of faith should integrate into his or her community and culture. although he would likely seek humility by shrugging it off, i think he's one definition of the role model concept and i have the utmost respect for him. it makes meeting with him to discuss life that much more meaningful. it also helps me understand, even more than i did before, why it's so devastating in some faith communities when people find out how human their clergy is. so while i do see my priest as a role model, i must also understand that he is human and makes mistakes. i must pray for him and, should i ever witness one of those mistakes, pray for him twice as much. that he will recognize the mistake and seek forgiveness.

and that takes me to my conclusion. i think one of the other things that is now keeping me in a consistent relationship with this particular anglican church is the understanding of humanity that our priest demonstrates. in communion we are all invited. regardless of how failed we feel or are, and how much forgiveness we need, we are invited. it's helped me understand that, sometimes, before someone will ask for forgiveness they need to know that they are part of a community that can show them what it means to live under God's mercy.

people need to be part of a community that will provide and environment in which they can come and confess their life to the Lord and seek the forgiveness they need in order to facilitate repentance. and we are all part of that community, whether priest or parishoner.