From saw dust trail to communion rail

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It was both salvation and the start of a journey. Which is how Ben Irwin describes how he came to the Episcopal Church.

My faith was saved in a gutted-out shopping mall.

I had reached a point where I no longer believed in God’s love—or rather, I didn’t believe it was meant for me. I thought it was something reserved for God’s “chosen ones,” and I just couldn’t imagine myself as one of the lucky few.

It was a trendy church with a famous pastor and a hip worship band that helped me reassemble the pieces of my faith. I will always be thankful for that church.

At that time, I had no idea my journey would lead from that gutted-out shopping mall to an old red door. But it did. Today it’s the Eucharist, the stained glass windows, and the liturgies of the Episcopal Church that are breathing new life into my faith.

Read the eleven things that Ben Irwin loves about the Episcopal Church.

1.  The way the liturgy soaks into your being.

The first few times I walked through those big red doors, I didn’t know the code. I didn’t know when to sit or stand. I didn’t know how to use the prayer book. I didn’t know how to cross myself.

While others have sought to make Christianity as accessible as possible, the liturgy of the Episcopal Church feels other, like a strange artifact calling us into a different and slightly foreign reality. Learning the liturgy was like learning a new language….

4. The way it embraces orthodoxy without rigidity.

The other day my priest (who takes Scripture and theology about as seriously as anyone I’ve ever heard preach), referred in passing to Adam and Eve as our “mythic forbearers.”

No one broke out the pitchforks. There were no murmurs or protests. No angry blog posts. No one accused him of “getting the gospel wrong.”

For many of us, it’s a refreshing change….

8. How the “shared cup” matters more than “shared dogma.”

I have spent a lot of my life trying to get my theology right. I’ve spent years believing all the “right things” in order that I might belong. So it was jarring when a good friend explained to me that the sermon (the meat!) was not the center of Anglican worship. It’s the Eucharist, the common table around which we all gather….

11. How at the altar, we’re all the same.

It’s been said the ground is level at the foot of the cross. I don’t think I’ve appreciated that quite as much anywhere as in the Episcopal Church.

At the altar, we all kneel, as Lindsey Harts put it. We all receive what we cannot do for ourselves. We all confess our weakness—that even the gifts we bring were God’s gifts to us in the first place. We all receive the same body and blood.

We need to do a lot better at cultivating and embracing diversity in our midst…but the altar is as good a place as any to start.

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