Sunday, October 16, 2005

Sunday double header

Because they were celebrating the feast day of their patron saint, my first stop this morning was at the 9:15 mass at St. Teresa of Avila church. Fr. Ray was his usual quiet and low key self. It was actually a short mass because there was going to be a coffee hour afterwards, so there was no lectio divina or conversation during the service. There was, however, incense, which for this high-church junky is a great way to start the day!

I love St. Teresa. She was a whacky, out-there, mystical, Jesus freak. Something that I can definately relate to. It seems like every time I open a book of hers, she manages to comment on exactly what is going on for me at that moment. I also love that she was basically a mediocre nun for the first 20 years of her career. It gives me hope that I won't always be such a half-assed Christian. If I ever do become a Catholic, I am going to take her as my patron saint. (Can I do that?)

Here is one of her prayers. We read this during the mass:

Let nothing disturb you, let nothing afright you, all things are passing; God does not change. With patiences, all things are obtained. Who has God lacks nothing. God alone suffices, God alone suffices.

You said it, sister!

I also decided to visit an Episcopal church this morning because I haven't had communion in a couple of weeks and was missing it. So I stopped by the Church of the Savior (not it's real name), which has a 10:30 mass. I chose it because it had a rainbow flag hanging outside, which made me feel right at home, since I am coming from the UU church.

The church itself was lovely... cream colored walls with dark wood trim. Very tasteful alter. Oak pews.

The service had all the same readings, since both the Anglicans and the Catholics use the Revised Common Lectionary. It was kind of fun to compare the two sermons. The priests said very different things about the same story. (Render unto Ceasar that which is Ceasar's). But both homilies were thought provoking. At this mass, though, there was a homeless man sitting in the front pew and he more or less continuously talked to the priest throughout the service. I thought the priest handled the situation very gracefully. He made the best of what could have been very disruptive.

What was more disruptive, and for me, disturbing, was that there were a couple of women sitting in the pew in front of me who talked throughout the Eucharist. They were obviously lay leaders in the church and were talking loudly about committee work and things. They were even complaining about a particular committee at one point. Oh, Martha, Martha... even if you don't believe in the Real Presence (which I do) isn't there space in your life for silence? Isn't coffee hour a better place to talk shop? I was pretty put off, I'll admit.

It is true that after the service those same two women turned around immediately and introduced themselves and welcomed me to the church. They were very kind.

But still.

During coffee hour, the priest introduced himself and asked if I were visiting the area. (Standard ice breaker, I have discovered.) When I told him that I was church shopping after leaving the UUs, and that I was still in a discernment process about which denomination, he volunteered that "The Episcopal Church is like Catholicism Lite. All the ritual without all the rules."

Today, it felt like it was missing more than just the rules.

How long, my Beloved, will I wander in the desert? This church-shopping business is turning out to be harder than I expected.


Mary Beth said...

Dear Rachel,

Welcome to the ring!

What a graceless comment for the priest to make...

I am a cradle Episcopalian and went away from it (searching) for several years in Grad school. Happily found just the right church home. Then I moved to my current city (250 miles away) and spent 10 years wishing for a church that felt like home to me.

My DH and I have just found it...I'm happy to say. We could certainly have been more intentional and SPEEDY about it, but we were starting a business and, you know....anyway, just wanted to encourage you to not give up (nor on the ECUSA)!


Mary Beth (Terrapin Station)

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Thanks for the welcome, Mary Beth!

I know that the priest was being funny, and he was very nice. But it is true that I was struck by the irony of his comment given what had happened during the Eucharist.

Anyway, I am not giving up. There is a church out there for me, somewhere!

AliceBabylon said...

Rachel, it took me almost 2 years to find the right church for me, after I moved this last time, and now I will be moving again, time to start the hunt anew.
I have never settled on one donomination (sp?), I just look for that church that feels like home. Where I am moved by God.
Good luck!

LutheranChik said...

Rachel -- as my pastor likes to say, we can't always hit it out of the park every week. You may have just happened upon that particular parish on a bad week. My parish, for instance, has its own confused person, a war veteran with "issues," who likes to suddenly stand up in the middle of the service and hold forth. (One Sunday he stood up right before the lessons and asked, "Pastor, is your sermon going to be very long?" LOL He wanted to speechify. Our pastor, without missing a beat, tactfully suggested that the man might want to wait for our potluck luncheon later that morning to address the rest of the congregation. "Oh. Okay!";-) We're used to stuff like this, but I can see where a visitor might be bemused.) I can't believe the women were talking through the Eucharist, though. Gaah.

Rachel's Big Dunk said...

Hi Lutheranchik,

Normally I would make a second trip for just the reason you stated- It isn't fair to base a decision on one shot. But in this case, Sunday school is a big issue because I have a couple of little boys. The Sunday school program at this particular church isn't going to work for us. (It is between the two services, which means the kids have to sit through the whole service every week.)

So the hunt is still on!