A couple of weeks ago, we visited an Episcopal Church. Some of our close friend have been going there and have been trying to get us to come. So we did. And it was weird. Not the people, just the experience. It was so different from what we are use to.
Our former church met in a modern building, had praise and worship music, and as far liturgy goes, we might recite a creed once in awhile. The Episcopal Church was very different. Wooden pews (no cushions), stained glass, robes, incense, altar boys, a choir, and a really loud organ (have I ever mentioned that I hate organs. Like REALLY hate them. If it were in my power, I would ban them and destroy them…all.).
The service had a lot of rituals and aspects that were curious to me. First, was when the priest read from a special bible and then kissed it. Then there was the ceremony that involved the incense. It was quite a scene to behold, actually. The priest was wearing an extra robe at this point and 2 of the altar boys had to hold up the sides of the robe so the priest could swing the incense bucket over the communion bread and wine. He was really getting into it. I was tempted to take out my phone and record it because I was sure that one of those altar boys was gonna get it in the head. No such luck. The altar boys were a curious lot to me. One of them was like 75 years old. Is it that difficult to graduate from that position? Lastly, the Choir was fascinating with all the robes and bling (Seriously, they all wore shiny crosses that were like a foot long.)
The Episcopals have all the children join the adults when they take communion (they were in Sunday School making rafts out of cardstock and baby Moses’s out of rocks- which they totally loved! Ethan was especially excited because he got to make 2 sleeping bags for baby Moses out of felt.) Now, when they came in, Ethan heard the organ playing and choir singing but could not see them (they were up in the balcony, behind us) he turned and asked me, “Mom! Where is that ‘ARRT…ARRT….ARRT’ sound coming from” all while making piano gestures with his hands. Then my older son wanted to know why everyone was going up to the front so I told them they were taking communion, to which he replied, “They get FREE bread?!?!”. At this point, Ethan comments about how much he likes the smell of the candles (aka the incense) and I am thinking, “We must look like the most unchurched people ever!”. I wanted to turn around and tell people that were churched people. Honest. Overchurched actually. We are so churched we have it coming out our asses. But I thought better of it and refrained.
My favorite part? The sermon and the people. The sermon (probably not what they call it) was great. And not because it was only 15mins long. No, it was honest and gracious. I felt no judgment or shame, only encouragement. And the people…they were so nice and normal. No one tried to get us to be involved, or asked us for our contact info so they could get us “Plugged In”. It was a nice change from what we are use to.
Despite the differences, I have to say that I enjoyed being there that Sunday. What I am coming to understand and embrace is that we, as Christians, come in all different shapes and sizes. We may do things differently but we share the same God and the same Jesus. One way is not necessarily better than the other….just different. This is a far cry from what I have been taught. Denominations can be so nit- picky and feel the need to think they are doing it better than the others. I don’t want to think like that anymore. I want to accept others and being accepted despite the different way we express our faith.
I think we will go back. I might even do a little research to learn what the different parts of the service mean… it might make it seem less weird.