Tuesday, September 17, 2013

book and a hand bell

A few Sundays ago we visited a nearby Anglican church to see what it was like.  We're not looking to switch churches but I want to be in touch with different Christian groups in our area.  Because why not?  We might visit a different church once every couple of months.

We were a few minutes late because I move like a turtle, but that was not an issue for anyone.  We were greeted warmly and quietly by a few standing near the back of the sanctuary and were given a blue hymnal.

Young children gathered around a small wooden table to color while we sat nearby in the back row.  There's nothing wrong with this.

We sang songs about justice, joy, and being a neighbor.

A woman offered a brief message about radical hospitality—how Jesus said that, when putting on a feast, invite the outcasts and the ones who are shunned by society.

Someone wearing a white robe rang a hand bell at the start of communion.  Three times it was rung, I think.  I don't know what meaning the Anglicans attach to this bell.  For me, its timbre and gradually fading tone served to clear my mind and bring my focus onto the love feast in which we were about to partake.

To me it doesn't matter whether or not Anglicans agree with me that the body and blood is mysteriously present in the wine and bread.  I can still commune with them because Grace is sufficient for me—for all of us.  And Jesus is everywhere.

When I sat down again beside Kevin, I turned my eyes to the windows above and was briefly swept away in memories of receiving communion as a teenager.  There would always come that ineffable moment when I'd lift my head by the Spirit and hear those precious, timely words: "May the body and blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ strengthen and preserve you until life everlasting.  Depart in peace.  Amen." 

Now would be a good time to end this blog post.  It just feels right.  But...

I was pleasantly surprised to see a TWU alumnus at this church.  She approached me when the service was finished.  We spoke briefly while I admired her son's tousled, curly hair and during our encounter Kevin rushed out the front doors.  I bid her farewell to catch up with him.

However, I was still hugging the blue book to my chest.

I hurried back in and slipped it onto the shelf.  "Thank-you," said the man who was returning the rest of the hymnals to their places.

I got the impression he wouldn't have minded at all if I had "stolen" it.


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