I find myself, like every Christian or frankly any religious practioner at some point, at a major crossroads of faith practice. I do not question the existence of God, my belief in the birth, life, death, and resurrection of His son Jesus Christ, nor do I question the need for spiritual practice, being a part of a faith community or faith and good works. However, I find myself at this difficult place of how to practice and which community with which to practice.
As a cradle Episcopalian, I have only a few small diversions of the Anglican path, a short stint as a Presbyterian while in Kansas City (a great experience, but not a lifetime commitment) and six months amongst a non-denominational contemporary community (great worship, but like an onion, you must peel the layers to reveal the true aroma…) Now, having married a lapsed Catholic, being angered at my local Episcopal parish (NOT the church as a whole), and trying to complete a very full training schedule while working full time, I have found myself without a church home and struggling to find my place as a Christian. I am not the first Christian to struggle with finding the right theological and liturgical fit, I will not be the last. But it does weight on my heart so heavily.
I have attended the Catholic church many times in the last two months, with very devoted and educated Catholic friends, and have found moving and thoughtful preaching. But, as I am not a Catholic, I am often led to deep sorrow as we reach the time of Eucharist and I am not considered worthy to receive. Having been a part of an amazing inclusive community of the Episcopal church, it is unfathomable to me to be denied a place at the Lord’s table for not following the same catechism or even if I have faithful beliefs, not being welcomed because I have not taken a course or completed a ritual. I often find myself wondering, didn’t Jesus teach us to love and embrace all? Did he perform the Last Supper with his friends to teach us to do the same in remembrance of Him, but only if you are a member of this denomination? Did He sacrifice His life on the cross for all of our sins, or just those who follow a particular catechism, be it Catholic, Protestant, or Protestant-Evangelical?
On the flip side, I hesitate to return to a non-denominational setting as I have yet to find one that, once you peel the layers, is truly inclusive. I am so terribly uncomfortable with the “God doesn’t change…Jesus hates gay people…the only issue in the church is gay marriage….we vote republican, if you’re a christian you do to” mentality that is held by so many evangelical Christians today. Andrew Sullivan puts it best when he says “There are very orthodox believers who nonetheless respect the freedom and conscience of others as part of their core understanding of what being a Christian is.”
As a believer in Christ, I do not see how it is Christian to not respect all of God’s people and welcome anyone who wishes to seek God to our Lord’s table? There are those who are incredibly firm in their faith practice and beliefs but understand that Jesus first taught us to love one another.
I shall not abandon my faith thought this step on the journey. I will not question the foundations, but must study further the theology, liturgy, catechism and whatever else you would like to name it behind the different versions of Christian community. Hopefully, through prayer and patience, the way will be made clear and my family will be led to a new church home.
In the meantime, I hold fast to the belief that regardless of one’s espousing or pontifications that we are simply told to love one another.