Monday, March 9, 2009

And now for something completely different...

As you may have noticed, I've been pretty obsessed with the excommunications in Brazil. This was pretty much the last straw for me and Catholicism, and as such I attended an Anglican church today.


IT. WAS. AWESOME.

Seriously, this place was full of the most hilarious of old ladies, one of whom kept calling me "Marilyn." Everyone was really nice. They all knew I'd never been there before (I guess it's a pretty tight-knit parish) and made sure I came to the rec room for coffee and cake after the service and got introduced to everyone. It was amazing. Another cool thing is that the closing hymn ("The King of Glory" - one of my favourites. I'm going to assume the Anglicans stole it from the Catholics and not the other way around) was done at a tempo so fast that most of the congregation had trouble keeping up, which was hilarious. It made me think of my dad, because he always bitches about how all the songs at Catholic Mass sound like funeral marches. If they don't play "Joy to the World" quickly enough at Christmas, he just sings it at the tempo he feels it should be... at the top of his lungs. My dad is hilarious.

Anyway, I digress. I wanted to talk about what I thought was most remarkable about the service I attended today. Check out the poem the reverend read during his sermon:


GOD'S NATURE

Sometimes we think what we are saying about God
is true when in fact
it is not.

It would seem of value to differentiate between what is
God's nature and what is false about Love.

I have come to learn that the truth never harms
or frightens.

I have come to learn that
God's compassion and light can never be limited;

thus any God who could condemn is
not a god at all

but some disturbing image in the
mind of a
child

we best ignore, until we
can cure the
dark.


This is pretty much the best thing I have ever heard uttered in a church. Not to sound tacky or anything, but my heart started singing when the reverend read this. I went up to him (while eating cake - which turned out to be angel food, of course) to ask what the poem was because I was so excited about it. It's from a book called Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky, which I went out immediately after church and bought. Then I came home and read the poem to my grandma, who also went out and immediately bought the book. There are some other gems in there too. I highly recommend checking it out.

Also, I can't remember the last time I was this excited about church. I can't wait for next Sunday.

9 comments:

Aleda said...

Yay for Anglican churches! You'll find a lot of other ex-Catholics (cough cough, my family) who got fed up with the politics of the Catholic church, but didn't necessarily want to have a totally different church experience. Not that Anglicans don't have their own wacky/stupid politics, but there's generally more debate and less command-from-on-high. And hey, a church that considers actively thinking about and debating the Bible to be a positive thing...what a crazy idea.

mary said...

Hooray church politics! (...kinda) You'll find a lot of similarities in liturgy between high-church Anglican congregations and Catholic congregations. Personally, I'm pretty comfortable in low-church Anglican services, since I'm a Methodist by birth. But there is something about, say, the Ash Wednesday service in an Episcopal church that touches my heart.

A said...

Thrilled to see you checking out us Anglicans. I belong to an Anglo-Catholic parish with a female priest, a gay deacon, and full on smells and bells every Sunday. It's fantastic.

You should check out our parish's blog when you get a chance: http://stpaulseattle.blogspot.com/

Anonymous said...

Any call for repentance in essence is a condemnation in calling us to turn from the folly of our old ways.

How does a non-condemning God jibe with Jesus who preached that we ought to repent (Mark 1:14-15)?

Phoebe said...

I suspect "that non-condemning God" means one who does not condemn a person, not one who thinks that anything we do is fine.

Jocelyn said...

Mark 1:14-15 says:

After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. "The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"

That's a tough question to answer, and I think Phoebe has a point. As I've said before, however, I do not by any means see the Bible as literally true. Even the fundamentalists pick and choose which parts to believe and which to (conveniently) ignore. But the overwhelming theme in the New Testament, I believe, is not one of repentance. For me, the core teachings of Christ were: treat others the way you'd like to be treated (Matthew 7:12); don't judge people (Matthew 7:1); and, of course, Love.

Without a doubt, I believe the most important and moving part of the Bible is 1 Corinthians 13, which says:

"If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."

This passage says that Love is the only thing that is truly everlasting. Love is at the absolute core of Christianity. Ultimately, this is what I believe. Does a person have to be Christian to be a good person? Absolutely not, and there are plenty of terrible people who call themselves Christian. For me, it's not about what you believe, but how you behave. The message of Christ is simply one particular way in which to see the overwhelming Love that permeates all of life. It is not Christ who is the way, in my opinion, but Love. And a God of Love doesn't look for sin and punish it. A God of Love forgives and understands. That's what is at the core of what I believe, and I'm thrilled to find a church that feels the same way.

LiturgyGeek said...

Freakin' awesome! Love the poem and will probably use it in a sermon sometime. (Plus, I'm among the chosen people? Thank you!)

Are you in the US? My spouse and I attended an Anglican church when we were in London and it took us some time to figure out that it was indeed not a Catholic church. I lived among the Episcopalians during seminary, and even then, never experienced such a high-church experience....But I'm glad you're excited about church!!

Jocelyn said...

Heehee. Yes, you are a chosen person, LiturgyGeek. I guess that makes you Jewish. :)

Anyway, no, I'm in Canada at the moment, so it's just straight up "Anglican." I assume when I move back to the states I will be an Episcopalian. I went to an Episcopal wedding once when I was a kid, and the (female) reverend made a point of inviting everyone up for communion, regardless of what faith they belonged to. My parents didn't go up, but I did. I thought it was really remarkable that she would be so welcoming. So unlike the Catholics. I can't believe I stayed Catholic for so long.

But, you know, my grandma is really Catholic. She was an organist in her church for years. And though she's very much on the far liberal end of Catholicism, she would not be happy to hear I attended Mass elsewhere. When I called to read her this poem, I conveniently left out that the sermon in which I heard it was an Anglican one.

My other Grandma thinks this whole thing is hysterical though. I told her about my letter to the Archbishop and she was like "well, they should excommunicate me too, because I also think those doctors did the right thing!" Apparently she attended Anglican Mass last week. Hilarious.

Debdog said...

Hmm. I may have to check out St. Paul's in Seattle. I just went to their website and I was impressed. You may have started a movement ;)

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