Thursday, July 31, 2008
What I Did On My Vacation
I haven’t been blogging lately. I have been visiting my family in Ft. Worth, TX. My mother at 95+ is in a nursing home and spending time with her is a blessing and a heart break at the same time. She can no longer speak—the synapses of the brain don’t fire anymore except on rather rare moments. But we sit and hold hands until she drifts into that doze that so characterizes the elderly. Sometime she knows me and at time—usually later in the day, she doesn’t.
When I have visited Mom all these years, I have gone to church to the large Methodist church in the center of the city. Ft. Worth is the most conservative diocese of the Episcopal Church. It continues to exclude women from priestly ministry and is on the verge of trying to leave the Episcopal Church to join with a church in Brazil. It is quite Anglo-Catholic and the diocesan leaders exude an air of being holier than anyone else. I have generally avoided the Episcopal congregations in Ft. Worth.
Now that I am being a Lutheran ‘for a season’ I need to reacquaint myself with Episcopal liturgy while I am on vacation. So last Sunday found me in a large Episcopal church in Ft. Worth where I thought I would not be tarred and feathered. I sat about 4 or 5 rows back from the altar rail when a woman and her husband came and genuflected and entered the pew. Of course I moved over. I wondered if I had sat in “someone’s pew” as it often seems in a small church, but this parish was too large for that. The couple was friendly and introduced themselves. My collar certainly showed that I was a visitor. There was some chit-chat before the service and I found that they drove over 40 miles to attend this church because of its willingness to be inclusionary and welcoming. Now, a 40 mile drive is not as much to Texans as it would be for NYers. But it was still not the ‘neighborhood church’ that so many of us are used to.
Following the service, I headed for coffee hour—the “Eighth Sacrament” as it is called in the Episcopal world. I didn’t even get to the coffee pot before a priest (the rector) stuck out his hand and was glad to see me. What a relief! Then several more people came around and wanted to meet me. I was rather astounded. These people were starved for contact with Episcopalians like themselves—people who wanted the World Wide Anglican Kafluffle to be over. It was good to be with them.
These are the folks who have to stick it out in the trenches day in and day out with a bishop who refuses to be a part of the Episcopal Church and claims being exclusively Anglican because the Episcopal Church welcomes LGBT people. “Enough, already!” These Christians are crying. “Let’s get on with what it means to love God and let’s quit fighting among ourselves.”
I admire these Episcopalians. I see in this parish in Ft. Worth the kind of church I believed I was a part of when I was ordained 25 years ago. I see in these Episcopalians the kind of church that I have served most of my life—folks who want to love Christ and serve God’s people. I am glad that these kind of Episcopalians exist and continue the tradition of the faith I have known.
Yep, I periodically need to go on vacation to know that that Church still exists—and in all places! Alleluia!