Friday, February 10, 2012

Grace Church and Me

Written by Carol Lyon.

clip_image002In 1972 my husband and I began searching for a church in our community. A block from our house was Grace Episcopal Church. One Sunday morning we decided to check it out. As we opened the front wooden door, I was surprised the light level was low even though the lights were on and some light came through the stained glass windows that surrounded the nave. Straight ahead was a wooden reredos over the altar featuring symbols of the four Gospels from the New Testament. Ken and I walked to a back pew. We knelt down. In that moment I felt the Mystery or Presence of God in that place.

We both felt drawn to this church. Not only was the building beautiful but the liturgy captivated us. It allowed us time to reflect as well as address core issues of living.

We were impressed with the theological freedom. As one poster advertising for the Episcopal Church says: “He died to take away your sin, not your mind.” We weren’t given cheap easy answers to great theological questions, such as why do bad things happen to good people, how can someone dying on a cross 2000 years ago take away my sin, and who is Jesus really? Rather we were given opportunities to seek these answers ourselves. We learned from theologians past and present through retreats, study courses and the Bible. This isn’t to say the Episcopal Church doesn’t espouse beliefs--it does. But it not only allows but encourages people to search these beliefs and come to our own conclusions.

clip_image004Grace church accepted me as I am not just in an intellectual way. She has put up with my faults, not the least of which is being controlling and opinionated. She used my gifts, organizing and getting things done. She has become my second family. And like most families we have had our quarrels and ups and downs but through it all I have felt God's love through Grace church members.

And perhaps this acceptance, not just of me, but all who come through our door, is why we now have such a diversity of parishioners. We have immigrants and native born Americans, gay and straight people, white and black and young and old. We all know and care for each other. I believe we become an example of God’s Kingdom on earth.

While we may be a smaller congregation than in the 50’s as my friend says “we’re better now."

I am baffled why every one doesn’t belong to Grace church. We offer a spiritual home where all are welcome and a healing space in a broken world.

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