Sunday, September 21, 2014

Why the Episcopal Church? Because We Become Who We Are

This post is my submission to the last of three-part prompt from the Acts 8 Moment BLOGFORCE Challenge. The last prompt is this: "Why the Episcopal Church?"

Truth be told, I have struggled to answer this question since it was announced. Oddly enough, answering "Why the Church?" and "Why Anglicanism" were both pretty easy for me... in contrast, this one has left me speechless because I'm having a hard time naming anything distinct that I have not already posted in either of my other two responses.

The truth is that I find a lot of value in this American expression of the via media.

The truth is that I am joyful that I am a part of a Church that is all about a cycle of worship and service, where one naturally leads to the other.

But at the same time, when confronted with this question specifically, "Why the Episcopal Church," I feel stymied. I mean, my parents raised me here in this Land of the Lutherans that is more commonly referred to as Minnesota. And I went to a Roman Catholic institution for college. When I was in high school, I hung out with a lot of people who were very Evangelical and they would have loved to tell me all about how that life could be mine, if I had been interested. So why have I stuck with Episcopalians for so long?

I guess one facet is that this is the church I was born into. I am actually the product referred to in that joke: "Daddy, what's an Episcopalians?" "Well, son, when a Protestant and a Catholic love each other very much..." So there is a certain amount of heredity in my Episcopal membership. But I don't think that's enough. The BLOGFORCE prompt specifically says:

"There’s a lot of talk of restructuring and revisioning in the church.  Conversations are happening in many places at many levels.  But why should the church survive?  Any thought of “re” anything supposes something good that must be preserved.  What is that?"

So if I try to come back and say "Well, this church should survive because it's my church, it's the church I was born into," then that's all well and fine for me, but what reason would anyone else have to join me, if they were not born into it as well?

When I finally get right down to it and try to honestly say why I think the Episcopal Church deserves to continue, I think I have to reference something written by Pr. Nadia Bolz-Weber (I know, the irony of referencing a Lutheran as a reason to support the Episcopal Church is weighing heavily upon me). In her book Pastrix, she writes about asking a similar question of her husband (though he was her boyfriend at the time of asking) while he was in seminary and when she was new to Lutheranism. His response was, "There's not enough wrong with [our church] to leave it and there's just enough wrong with it to stay... Fight to change it."

Yet again, I would be pictorially lost
if it were not for Episcopal Church Memes
So I guess I get to have it both ways. The Episcopal Church is my church because I was born into it (therefor it deserves to continue). But moreover, the Episcopal Church must be preserved because it has the ability to become more authentically our church. The Episcopal Church has grown and changed over time to a point that some people criticize it for no longer resembling itself in days of yore. But frankly, I think that is its strength, because the Church is not a pile of bricks and mortar, but in fact it is a group of people who choose to come together for worship and fellowship; they choose to stick together because they want to change themselves and change the world.

That's why the Episcopal Church. Because we become who we are.

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