Friday, June 20, 2008

High Church

Wrote this last summer:

July 16, 2007

I spent an hour and a half Saturday in what had to be a preview of Heaven.

An old friend, a guy I worked with during a summer job in the mountains in 1981 and with whom I have maintained infrequent contact during the interim period, was ordained into the priesthood of the Episcopal Church. He was kind enough to invite me to attend and I really wanted to make the effort. This is, obviously, a major mid-life career adjustment for him, one that is going to constitute a lifestyle change that is only beginning.

The ordination took place in Georgia, not a short drive from home. But as the weekend neared, it looked as though the stars would align so that all family members would be otherwise occupied and I could make it.

I grew up in a mainline Christian denomination with a modest amount of liturgy. Most of my adult life, however, has been in a non-denominational megachurch. It has been a blessing to me. As with so many good things, though, there are trade-offs, one of which is a lack of tradition. The Evangelical church, in its effort to draw the nonbeliever, or “seeker,” has largely eschewed many of the practices and rubrics to which we former mainliners were once accustomed. That is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing -- it’s just a fact.

This past Saturday, however, I experienced a taste of “high church” and I am not the same. The glorious organ music, the clergy adorned in red vestments, the responsive readings and the kneeling in prayer called me to a place of worship where I sensed the Divine in a way that refreshed and blessed my soul.

My friend, the new priest, solemnly took vows to model himself after Christ and devote himself to a life of service. I believe that’s a pretty good vow for any of us who would seek to follow the One who gave up His life for us.

I went to support my friend and wish him well. I came away changed. Not a bad way to spend a weekend.

No comments: