Sunday, April 09, 2006

Finding home, continued

I was reminded this morning of the Easters of my childhood. We might have called them Easter outfits but our new clothes were rarely properly warm enough for Easter Sunday itself, leaving us the choice of hiding our finery (and squashing our corsages) under the winter coats we were so very tired of wearing, or freezing as we hurried to and from church without them. Easter may yet be warm, but my computer reported a brisk 32 degrees when I headed out for Palm Sunday services this morning.

As I was leaving, Chris asked if the Episcopalians also read the long Gospel for the occasion, and I couldn't remember though I guessed that they must. But I couldn't recall standing for an extended period last year, when it would have been even harder for me than usual because my sore foot was still bothering me so much. Turns out that just like Roman Catholics they do read the long Gospel, with individuals from the congregation taking the various parts and the rest of us filling the role of "the people." However, we all sat through it instead of standing, which I suppose some people would cite as evidence that the Episcopal church (or at least this Episcopal church) had sold out, but which I certainly appreciated as it allowed me to concentrate more on the words we were reading than on my own personal discomfort.

Sometime during the sermon, or maybe just afterward, I found myself wondering how it would feel if I asked to be accepted as a member there--which surprised me not only because it's probably the first time I've thought seriously about taking that step but also because it's a possibility I (thought I had?) already pretty definitely ruled out. This particular church has given me so much over the past year that I know it will always have a special place in my heart no matter where I wind up, but (a) it's not in my own community, and I think I should be settling in closer to home, and (b) it doesn't feel "churchy" enough for me, by which I am referring to both the physical building and also to my perception of the congregation as more involved in the extended social aspects of being church than in the spiritual.

One of the things I identified with in the book I mentioned yesterday (Finding Home: Stories of Roman Catholics Entering the Episcopal Church) was how often these new Episcopalians mentioned being deeply moved by the words of the Book of Common Prayer. I've had that same experience, and been surprised by it. Of course I did come to the Episcopal church for its liturgy. I expected it to feel familiar and it did, but to be honest I thought it would probably seem somewhat inferior to what I was used to. Yet there have been many moments when I've found it more eloquent, moving, and dignified than what I'd experienced in the Roman Catholic church, so I suppose in that sense it has been like "finding home" for me.

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