Rector's Blog: A Sense of Belonging and Purpose
This month I’ve been writing about why I’m Christian, why I’m Episcopalian, why Redeemer matters to me. Talking about this brings me joy because it brings so much love and beauty to the surface of my consciousness. It’s easy for me to dwell on what’s going wrong, what could be better, what things should be. The discipline of articulating why I am what I am and what I like about that roots me and grounds me in the love of God that has saturated my life and given me a sense of belonging and purpose.
But I haven’t been alone in this work! This summer we’ve been asking you to tell your stories as well. My favorite thing about Redeemer is the people, and you have so much to share about why you are who you are. I’d like to use this blog post to share some of the things you’ve said about your faith lived out in this church – because this church, this faith is our story together and not just mine.
Check out the excerpts below, watch for more to come, and share your own stories, too.
Why am I Episcopalian?
In John Steinbeck’s late novel, The Winter of Our Discontent, the hero, explains his lingering Episcopalian faith this way:
"Do I lift out each shining phrase from the Nicene creed, loaded like a shotgun shell, and inspect it? No. It isn’t necessary. It’s a singular thing, Mary. If my mind and soul and body were as dry of faith as a navy bean, the words, ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures,’ would still make my stomach turn over and put a flutter in my chest and light a fire in my brain.”
“I don’t understand.”
“Good girl. Neither do I. Let’s say that when I was a little baby, and all my bones soft and malleable, I was put in a small Episcopal cruciform box and so took my shape. Then, when I broke out of the box, the way a baby chick escapes an egg, is it strange that I had the shape of a cross?"
And that is true of me, as I suspect it is of many of us “cradle Episcopalians,”—a phrase I dislike, as we weren’t Episcopalian at birth— just babies.
What renews you spiritually at Church of the Redeemer?
I think that at different times in my life, I can claim different things, from sermons to just meeting and greeting people and sharing smiles and hugs before and after services. All of that renews me spiritually, but specifically more and more lately, coming to the table at Eucharist has really meant a lot to me. As I pursue ordination into the priesthood and really start to invest in the larger meaning of what we do at church, I’ve started to make eye contact with the Eucharistic Ministers, the lay chalice bearers or the priest or the deacon that is handing out the bread. And just having that moment of eye contact when they tell me that Jesus died for me, died for us, and before I take the body or I take the blood, it really fills me up. And it’s just a moment that I can’t explain. It’s a moment of awe. It’s a moment of beauty in an otherwise mundane thing. So many people come up to the table and take the bread and eat it or dip it in the cup and go back to their seat without really thinking about what they’ve just done. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, or that that provides less meaning, but I think that that moment, if you take that moment to really, really understand that exchange between the person who is giving you the gifts and the person from whom the gift came originally in Jesus I think it can be such a spiritually renewing and a powerful thing.