I do love this Church.
I have loved it since my first visit to the Church of the Holy Mount in Ruidoso, New Mexico back in the 1980s. I thought then (and many times afterwards) that it must have been the window behind the altar that intrigued me. I don’t remember if there was a cross there or not but it was a big picture window through which could be seen Sierra Blanca. Yet, even when I was no longer a witness to that window, I still loved the Church.
In 1985, I began attending what I thought was the Episcopal Church in Hurst Texas at a little parish that became a home to us, St. Stephen’s. It was a little parish beleaguered by squabbles between its family members. It broke apart, healed itself, broke again and healed again. Today, I think it is in danger of once again breaking due mainly to the schism that is ongoing in the not so Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth. Yet, like the family it has always been, it will heal again because it is made from love.
I love this Church. It is a part of me that is so vital and real. I know that God lives outside and beyond this part of the body we call The Episcopal Church yet to be within this part is so precious to me. That is the way I am beginning to feel about being inside this one little piece of the body – the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.
I could be a Christian outside of this Church. I have proven that I can be a lover of Jesus outside of this Diocese. But I don’t want to be outside of all of this. I want to love, live and breathe Jesus through these very parts – especially through this part named The Episcopal Church.
Is it always right? Probably not. Is it ever wrong? Maybe. Will I always agree with it? Definitely not. But I don’t care. I think that it is doing very much like the prayer that Thomas Merton recites that loosely paraphrased is this – I know that what I am doing is not always exactly what You want me to do but I am trying and I know that by my trying, You smile on me and are glad.
This Church is awesome because it sees something wrong and it not only speaks out against the wrong but it tries to do something to right it. It works toward justice and mercy. It works against war and the ravages of war. It speaks to the Peace of God and works to achieving it.
I guess I like the Church because it acts as I feel. It is trying and so am I. I am trying to be like Bishop Gene, Bishop Sam or Bishop Wayne, like the Rev Mike or Rev Renee, like the beautiful and much loved Louie…I am trying to be kind and loving and just. As much as I am trying to do these things, I am trying to be peaceful. That, I think, is the hardest part: I have this thing inside of me that wants to rant and rave and say GET OVER YOURSELVES. But if I do rant and rave, then I suppose someone would have to say the same to me. So, I am trying to get over myself before anyone has to tell me to. I am trying to stay on task and not be sidelined by the hate and fear of some who are at Lambeth or even by the confusion and anxiety that seems to want to take hold at my own parish.
This is the Episcopal Church…and I love it. I think that God must love it too if for no other reason than the idea that it is trying to walk forward in faith even as stones and boulders are cast down upon it. Many humans have attempted to thwart the will of God out of their own fears of change. There will always be those who hate and fear and want more power. Parts of the Church may break away but one thing that is known for certain – these same parts will always be welcomed home again – when and if they choose to return. That is the way this Church works - in love.
I will continue to be thankful for being inside this Diocese inside this Episcopal Church where we try to follow what we perceive to be the work of the Church – to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God – regardless of the stones being cast all around us; regardless of how short of the goal we fall. I will continue to speak out against injustice; I will keep on trying to be kind, loving and peaceful. And I will always keep God in my heart and in my mind. I can do no less.