Krista and I were confirmed this morning at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Nashville this morning. For those not familiar with it, confirmation is an adult declaration that I’m a follower of Christ, with this community of believers. For us, it was a profound statement of belonging, marking a significant transition in our journey of faith.
Why the Anglican/Episcopal church? Why have I connected so easily here, when I have felt out of place in almost every other attempt to become part of a local congregation? What is it about this church that has resonated with me? I haven’t talked a whole lot about it except with a select few friends who aren’t befuddled by the idea, but I want to give some insight into what brought us to the point of such a decision.
To begin with, the worship at Saint Bartholomew’s has been a gift that I never realized I would enjoy so much. Having never worshiped using any structured liturgy, I wasn’t sure what to expect when we visited, but what I found was that the liturgy serves as a path to meaningful and authentic worship. It wasn’t in the way any more than dirt is in your way on a hiking trail. Once I accepted the role of the liturgy, it was refreshing to be led in that way.
Second, the service is rich with powerful Christian symbolism and is centered on Christ and the Word. The processional with the cross held high in the air reminds us of the power and efficacy of Christ’s death. The reading of the Gospels in the middle of the room compels us to view the Gospels as the central story of our lives. The common cup of the Eucharist represents the fact that we are all in need of the body and blood of Christ. When we make the sign of the cross we physically express the truth that we are crucified with Christ.
Throughout the service, the senses are flooded with signs of God’s truth. It’s hard to miss for those who are seeking.
Next, in the past I’ve had some difficulty with judging whether or not the music and the sermon are “good.” I don’t have the same trouble at St. B’s. The choir, organ, and band are all behind us in a balcony, so it’s clear to me that their role is not to perform songs, but to invite us to worship with them. They are one of the congregants, except that they get to play instruments and sing into a microphone. And the sermon is not the center focus of the service either. It’s part of a whole, with Christ at the center.
Finally, Anglican theology is another important part of why I feel so at home at Saint Bartholomew’s. In fact, the theology is why I like to tell people that I was Anglican before Krista and I came to this church; I just didn’t know it yet. I have found a strong likeness with how I view God and his Word.
There are four important tensions that Anglican theology seeks to maintain that I have also sought after:
- God’s immanence and God’s transcendence.
- The faith of the community and the faith of the individual.
- Theological openness and firmness.
- The role of our thoughts and our passions.
Over the past decade, connecting with a local church has been difficult for me (even while being on staff at a church for five years!). My friend Brian has tried to talk me out of my spiritual “hermit-ism” for a while now, gently presenting the value of being part of a community of believers who give us opportunity to serve and be served.
I had given up on the church as having any potential for this kind of connection, but God has disrupted my expectations again and I’m certain that we have found a home and a tribe at Saint Bartholomew’s. We have claimed them as our family and they have done the same for us. We’ve not met a lot of people there as of yet, but somehow we already feel a sense of belonging within the Body of Christ.
Do you think that’s confirmation enough?