So Many Denominations, So Little Time (Part 5)

file3181278525287So the end is in sight of all the denominations that have been a part of my life. We’re now to Episcopal. And this is the church I attend now.

And I consider myself an Episcopalian.

This is a pretty huge statement coming from me because as much as I attended any church, I never would “join” or claim the denomination as part of my identity.  As someone once said, “Our Charise is not a joiner.”

One church I attended said something about if you were a regular attender then you “had” to join. I stopped going.

I would always just say I was Christian and (fill in the blank) denomination is the church I attend– for now (until they try to make me join).

I’m not sure exactly why I have shifted to be comfortable saying I’m Episcopalian, but I have a few ideas. One is my church stays out of politics. So how I relate to God and how I vote is not mixed into the communion wine. The fact that we use wine for communion is NOT a reason I like the church (despite the name of this blog).

I also like this church because all my friends are welcome there. When Little Sir was baptized, I didn’t have to edit the invite list.

I came to this church because I was looking for a wedding venue and then liked the Rector so much that we decided to attend and then I ended up the youth group director… I don’t do that job anymore, but this church has helped me grow more than any other.

In fact, I think this is the only church that has helped me grow in my faith. I have had people and trips and Bible verses and experiences propel my spiritual side, but I don’t know that I have been able to credit a CHURCH very much.

Until now.

Does this surprise you the way it does me? The rote prayers, the rituals… it’s not something I thought I would connect with.  Like I tell people, it is a LOT of church.

But those rote prayers? They are GORGEOUS. And there is something about those rituals I find profound and comforting.

Like sea glass– pointy edges worn smooth after years and  years of tides.

Though it took me some time to learn the stand up, sit down, repeat this, chant that-rhythm of the place, it warms me to think there’s a bunch of us doing the same thing that we have done for generation upon generation.

Robin Williams was an Episcopalian and it grieves me his faith did not provide enough light on the day he felt the dark close in. But he had a great line about no matter what you think, you’re bound to find another Episcopalian to agree with you. That’s another thing I like about the denomination. There’s room.

We have core beliefs and agreements, but there is a lot of room for opinion and thoughts. Those rote prayers and rituals do not route out independent thought and opinion. I like it. I like that as diverse as we are as humans, I have found a place to learn, express and grow my faith in a way that works, but does not turn me (or others) into a “herd” with the mob mentality of no one speaking up or people afraid to “step out of line”.

Father Keith was the Rector I mentioned earlier. He passed away this year. It seemed the world dimmed a bit with that news. He was the type of man that no matter what horrible thing happened in the world you could say, “Well, at least there are people like Father Keith around.” So the loss was big.

I hope the light he gave me will be enough to brighten things up a bit.