August 29, 2023

From the Rector…

Why I am an Episcopalian? It sounds like an elementary school theme paper like “How I Spent My Summer.” It is an exercise I participate in every year as I prepare to teach our Inquirer’s Class. Over the years the answer has shaped and formed three particular reasons. There is a litany of reasons why I love being Episcopal, and these three encapsulate most all of them.

First, I am an Episcopalian because our starting point in our relationship with God is that we are God’s children. Most Christian denominations start at the place of “sinner in need of redemption” and though there is truth in that label of ourselves, I don’t believe that is the way God sees us. God created us. We are God’s children. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, he tells them to begin with the words, “Our Father.” Jesus understands that this is the true starting point of our relationship with God. His need to die for our sins is because we have forgotten our status as children of God and thus entered into a sinful nature. Sin is not being in relationship with God. Our starting point is not our sinful nature, it is our relationship with God as his children.

Second, I am an Episcopalian because we grow and develop our spiritual nature, not simply our emotional nature. We don’t do happy-clappy worship. Our liturgy is not created to give you a “Jesus high.”  Our worship nor are our beliefs driven by emotion. We seek that “peace beyond all understanding.” That kind of peace is not dependent on an emotional state—it is beyond our emotional states of being. We can find peace in suffering and in celebration. It is a non-reactive way of being in the world that helps us begin to sink in and deepen in the places of God. We don’t get lost in the darkness because we know that the Spirit always shines the light for us to follow—or at the very least, to seek. We can trust in the spiritual even when the emotive disappoints or distracts us.

Third, I am an Episcopalian because we are liminal—middle of the road—people. We are neither Catholic nor Protestant. We are both/and. Our governance and structure, belief and worship are firmly rooted in the authority of ecclesial office and the acknowledgment and participation of the laity. Unlike true Protestantism that is driven by the congregation or true Catholicism that is driven by the Pope, we exist somewhere in the middle working out our beliefs and relationships together. We don’t have to be Democrat or Republican, Alabama or Auburn, conservative or liberal—we get to be all of those things and so much more. It shouldn’t work and yet, because we can all come to the rail and receive the life-giving love of Christ through the sacrament of the Eucharist, it does. We live in the liminal space which doesn’t require us to have answers and relishes in mystery.

Those are my three reasons for being Episcopalian. I wonder what yours are. I would love to hear from you—feel free to send me an email or ask me to coffee so we can explore the joy of our church together.  

Light and Life,