"WHY I AM AN EPISCOPALIAN"
We have had too much gloom and doom lately. It is time we had a dose of optimism for a change. Let's look afresh at why we are Episcopalians. My friend Jill Campbell Pike posted this on Facebook on July 22. Having gotten her permission, I want to share it with you here. Right now, we all need to hear these words. We can all relate to her love for her local parish and the Episcopal Church. Thank you, Jill, for this:
"Thoughts on the Episcopal Church have been buzzing around my brain of late. Throughout the past year, I have become so much more aware how deeply I depend on the congregation of St. Luke's and on the liturgy of the Church to support me. There is no way I would have made it this far to be this sane without those two things.
Why the Episcopal Church? Why wouldn't the Methodist Church or a Baptist church, or a Catholic Church do just as well? There are loving congregations which exist in those denominations just like they do here at St. Luke's. The short answer is that the Episcopal Church has/does what I need, and the other churches do not. Because I have been regular in attendance these almost 40 years, the 1978 BCP has carved it sown groove into my brain, to be reminded that it is good to praise and thank God for everything in my life, the good and the bad. I NEED to kneel and to say the Prayer of Confession regularly. It is healthy for me to be confronted with those things done and left undone in my life which did not honor God. Besides reminding me of my humanity and my humility, this act is one done corporately, so that I am confessing my sins right along with the next person in my pew, right along with the whole congregation. This means that I am reminded in almost every service that I am not alone in either sinning or in receiving God's forgiveness.
I NEED to hear Scriptures read and explained to me. I need to hear sermons which challenge me and my view of the world and my personal theology. It helps me to grow. I also NEED that sequence of Episcopal worship, of every service: Scripture study (readings & sermon), confession, absolution, reconciliation, and, at last, the shared table.
Someone in a Bible study long ago taught me that one does not eat with one's enemies. You just don't. It's not safe to relax, let down your guard, and eat in their presence. That is why the juxtaposition of the verses in Psalm 23 where God prepares a table for me in the sight of my enemies is so powerful; the enemies are not invited, and I am protected from them as one of God's own. The breaking of bread in the context is, at least to me, one of THE most intimate acts in which one can participate. We do not bare ourselves physically, but emotionally, spiritually, and then are bound together in that intimacy into the family of God. Church is about finding/being a safe place for this.
Being reminded that God will sanctify my life is both a comfort and a challenge. It's a comfort to know that he still loves me despite my failings, and it's a challenge to live into my future life in the direction of His will for me.
And finally, how could I worship without beauty? The Episcopal Church has the most beautiful services I have ever experiences in a lifetime of attending churches. They appeal to every sense, sight, sound, touch, smell, and even taste. There is an intentional language with beautifully crafted words and phrases to express precisely how we love and praise God, and how he loves us in return. And that language does not change! It remains, like a bulwark, like a touchstone, for us to remember just where we stand in this world. The words of the prayer book were painstakingly crafted with prayer and intellect so that we might be led along a path toward God. They are not changed or improvised. They are not redefined or translated. They stand to echo the same structure and the same concepts as other Episcopalians in other churches around the world.
I believe that the Book of Common Prayer has done more to sustain the foundation of Christianity than any other book except the Bible. And the reason it has been able to do this is because each book has been created with such prayer and humility to stand the test of time and worship. After that, it's up to us to live our lives in such a way that we do not contradict it."