Sunday, October 01, 2006

Fresh brewed

I sometimes think coffee is the third sacramental element in the Episcopalian tradition. I'm not sure if there's any support in Scripture for this, but considering the intensity of my personal relationship with coffee, I'm all right with it.

Actually, if you were to go looking for a Scriptural basis I think you'd find it in the table fellowship Jesus shared with his friends throughout their time together, not just at the Last Supper. Coffee hour is where a church strengthens the bonds of community among its members and reaches out to newcomers. I think it really is a shame most Roman Catholic parishes I've known don't do this. (Though I know many staunch Roman Catholics such as my own parents who would be appalled at the very notion; they never thought going to church ought to involve that much togetherness.)

I was thinking these thoughts--not for the first time--as the pot gurgled and the aroma of fresh coffee filled the church this morning. Coffee hour takes place outside as long as the weather permits, but a driving rain drove everything indoors, and the church is so small the only place you can put a big coffee pot is behind the last pew. It was a grey day indeed when I arrived for the early service, and I felt cheered and welcomed to see the light pouring out of the church windows as I drove up.

Breaking with the usual schedule, the second service was canceled in favor of proceeding to walk as a team in the local AIDS walkathon this morning. Fortunately, the sky turned blue and the sun came out right about the time the walk started. About 18 of us participated--not a bad turnout for a small congregation. I cheated and walked back home after about a mile and a half because I knew I wasn't good for the full six miles, but it meant a lot to be there as part of that group. Most of us had come straight from church but a few turned up later at the start of the walk, and glad greetings were exchanged among all as we gathered. I suspect--in fact I know--that these people don't all like each other, and yet they seem to know how to make this community thing work.

I have wished for so long that I belonged to a church that did things like this.

It was a heartening finish to what has at times been a sad week for me, to be perfectly honest. I had a long phone chat with a good friend of mine from my old church who told me how much people missed me--not what I wanted to hear right now--and I sent back the where are you questionnaire that came with the we miss you letter from the same church. It will be interesting to see if they decide now to follow up or let me go; I'm betting on the latter. It was good to be reminded that what I did last Sunday was a matter of walking into a new community, not just walking away from the old one. Being sad is not the same thing as having regrets, but trusting you are headed in the right direction doesn't necessarily make it easy to let go of the past.

While we were standing around together waiting to start walking, a photographer from the local weekly newspaper posed us all behind our church banner and took our picture. It will be interesting if it is published, since this is a small town where it's sure to be seen by many people who would not have expected to find me in an Episcopal group portrait. With that in mind it occured to me to step out of the picture, but I'm glad to say I didn't. I'm here now.


At 9:51 AM, Blogger St. Michael the Archangel said...

I don't think you quite understand the word fellowship, you feel that it means to just gather round and talk to your buddies. Catholics share a deep spiritual and physical fellowship way more in depth than you can imagine.

At 9:24 PM, Blogger Rachel's Big Dunk said...

One Foot,

I definately understand the feelings of sadness about leaving a church. I struggle with it, too. (Left my UU church last September...)

But you are right. It is NOT the same as regret. I think it just means that God asks us to do hard stuff sometimes. But if we go about our lives with a sense of prayerful obedience, we need not regret any of it.

I have been at my new Episcopal church for almost a year now and it still feels new to me. But this has been such a rich and wonderful year... I know I did the right thing. I pray that you will come to trust that, too!

PS: The UUs joke that coffee hour is their communion. Which would be funny if it wasn't so true.


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