Thursday, March 4, 2010

The blog post I'm not writing

So, every time I sit down to blog, I think about the blog I’m not writing. That would be the one about church stuff.

We left our church home of almost ten years last year. We’ve floated around for about six months, and I think we’ve finally found a new place to attend.

The good parts? It’s only five minutes away, it’s got amazing Sunday school programs, the teaching is Biblically solid and theologically robust, it’s very welcoming, we already know a lot of the people there, and did I mention that it’s five minutes away?

The bad parts? Well, it’s not Anglican. And we still miss our old church.

We did try to find another Anglican church. There was the one that was a smallish start-up that then went on hiatus.  There was the beautiful, wonderful one . . . that was very far away. Far enough on a Sunday when there was no traffic and way, way too far at any other time of the week, as the road there is made up of super-cloggy freeways. There was no way we could go there and become part of parish life; it was hard to be part of parish life at our old church because of distance, and this one was even further away.

So, are we still Anglican? Well, yes, theologically. I still believe that the theology in the Book of Common Prayer is the truest depiction of Christian dogma I’ve ever found. Are we still going to celebrate the church year? Yep. I still love the way it tells my children the gospel every year through fast and feast. Are we hoping to go to an Anglican church in the future? Yep. I’m hoping ACNA takes off and that someday we can be part of an Anglican church plant near our home. If the Lord wills. (Though if we really become a part of this new church, that may never happen for us, and I know that.)

But right now, the reality is that there is no orthodox Anglican church nearby. And there is a wonderful, welcoming, orthodox evangelical church nearby, where my children can learn about Jesus every Sunday, and where my husband and I can worship God with fellow believers. So we’re going to go there. Because it is good to go to the house of the Lord.

It’s funny. I think the sacraments are important. I also think Bible teaching is important. I think the one leads you to the other, and vice versa. But we have spent ten years at a sacrament-heavy, teaching-light church. Maybe it’s really hard to get that balance right, and what we need now is to be part of a church that’s the opposite. (Both churches do teach the Bible and practice the sacraments – don’t mistake me. The emphasis in both is just very pronounced . . . and opposite.)

I don’t know. I don’t know all the whys. I do know that I’m finally (finally) at peace about where we’re attending. I do know I’m very grateful to the people at this new church who are doing such a faithful job of preaching the gospel, and who are so very welcoming.

I feel like a refugee that’s found a place that’s offering showers, bed, and a hot meal. So it’s not my favorite meal. So what? It’s wholesome and I’m hungry, and I’m not going to complain. I’m just grateful to be fed.

And the people offering it are offering it in the Lord’s name; it’s been evident in all our interactions with people at this new church that they love the Lord Jesus, and that the kindness they’re extending to us is the kindness they themselves have received at His hands. They understand the part in the Bible about hospitality to strangers. It’s really beautiful.

I know it’s corny, but what keeps going through my head is, “You can’t always get what you wa-ant. You can’t always get what you wa-ant. But if you try sometimes, you might find . . . you get what you need.”

I think the Lord’s giving us what we need. And I am so glad.

peace of Christ to you,

Jessica Snell


Elena said...

Well put. It's pretty much exactly how I feel about our own journey.

Jessica said...

Thanks, Elena. Good to know we're not alone. Where did you end up?

Amy said...

...and mine!

It's hard. I know it's hard!

After our diocese left and our church stayed with TEC we had to make several changes...and then hubby graduated seminary. We were placed in a small but very loving church in a rural town. They haven't had a long-term priest in at least 2 decades and they have no children in the congregation :-( It's not perfect but we are free of the heretical teachings of TEC...and I can only be thankful.

Anne Kennedy said...

Boo, and, God is good. Someone recently prayed for us and thanked God 'for the courageous stand these two have taken'. But I thought, as the words were spoken, that we are not very courageous. We are just very sinful and desperately dependent upon the goodness of God. And so there is manna in the wilderness, and quail, and water to drink, and the congregation of the faithful, and God himself. Many many many prayers.

Amy said...

We had faced a similar situation when we lived in WI. We left our Episcopal church wounded and empty and then attended an evangelical church for over 4 years. Looking back we can see how there were certain things that were built into us there that we probably wouldn't have gained anywhere else. So thankfully it wasn't a time of always wishing for something different but of being spiritually fed and growing in the Lord. But I must also say that our Anglican identity is so much a part of who we are that eventually things began to take their toll on us there too. We feel so blessed to be where we are now but know the situation is probably going to change as we seek a new rector and issues in the TEC continue to fester.
Following the church year at home became so important to us and we even found like-minded people at our evangelical church who would celebrate feast days with us! Those memories are so special to me now.

Elena said...

We're members of an absolutely miniscule Baptist church, where they serve the serve communion every week (with real wine!) and every week in the bulletin Pastor writes an insightful meditation on the significance of the Lord's supper. Because many years ago he decided that the best way to guard against trivializing the eucharist was to meditate hard on it, rather than making it rare.

When we were unable to find the right conservative episcopal home in TX, I was dismayed that I would have to lose out on the nourishment of celebrating the Lord's supper weekly.

But thanks be to God, he's providing for us. He leads His children well.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Jess, I don't really understand something here. How can you say that your former church was light on Bible teaching when it was taught every single week? Those sermons were one of the things that drew us there, remember? I understand your need to go elsewhere. But it is important not to minimize or forget the good things in the place that you left.

flutistic said...

I feel like a refugee that’s found a place that’s offering showers, bed, and a hot meal. So it’s not my favorite meal. So what? It’s wholesome and I’m hungry, and I’m not going to complain. I’m just grateful to be fed.

Thank you for those words. I sometimes focus too much on what my current church is not, instead of being grateful for what a nurturing place it has become.

Jessica said...

Thank you, everybody, so much, for sharing your stories and your kind words. It's good not to be alone, and good to hear of God's faithfulness to others too.

Jessica said...

Hey, Em! That's a good question; I was afraid that comment might be misunderstood, though I tried to qualify it to explain what I meant: it's a matter of emphasis. At our new church, they practice the sacraments, but the emphasis is on teaching. At BlSac, they teach, but the emphasis is heavily on the sacraments. Just looking at the time devoted to either at both churches, you can see the difference. That's what I meant. It's not a judgment on which is better, just an observation that the balance is different. (Personally, I'd love to go to a place that emphasized the sacraments as much as our old church, and the teaching as much as the new.) I don't think our old church didn't have Biblical teaching. It's just not as much (time-wise) and doesn't go as deep (in an exegetical sense - the new one has Bible profs preaching almost every Sunday). Make more sense?

I'm not dismissing BlSac's preaching, just comparing. If I went to a new church and said, "gee, it's just the same!", you'd have to marvel at my confusion. :) There are differences, and it's interesting to note them.