(The opinions expressed by Betty do not reflect the views of the blog author.)
I’m not a member yet, but I did finally visit the Saturday evening service. I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of months, but just didn’t get around to it.
Dan told a story on his blog about a person who called him about visiting his church. He said, “probably 80% of the people who say they will “see me Sunday” never end up showing.”
I can understand that. It’s not easy walking into a church you’ve never been in. If you psyche yourself up a little, it’s kind of a rush, maybe like skydiving, sort of, only without a parachute.
I didn’t really know anything about episcopalians. What do they wear? What will they do that I am clueless about? Will I be able to blend in and follow along?
Similar to my last church visit, this one started with a drive by, not enough cars in the parking lot. And like last time, I decided to go back and go anyway. As it turns out, there were 8 of us at the service plus the priest.
I sat near the back and tried to be observant without gawking. I noticed that people curtsied before entering their pew, but I don’t know why. All of the pews had kneeling things. I’ve never attended a church with those before. I was afraid to try opening mine in case it would clank or something. If I go back, I might kneel next time.
The service started with the priest going to the back of the sanctuary and ringing the old outdoor bell. That was cool. There was no singing in the entire service. It started with readings from the Book of Common Prayer.
Then there were four scripture passages. The priest read the old testament passage standing at the front of the room. Then he went and sat in a chair at the side of the altar and read the psalms. Next a lady from the congregation read a new testament passage at the podium. Finally the priest brought a shiny gold book to the podium and read from the gospels.
He had a good sermon about the wedding banquet. This was followed by the Nicene Creed, prayer, and a litany. Then people turned around to shake hands. This was my only faux pas. I said hi. But it didn’t take me long to figure out that everyone else was saying peace.
The bulletin said that all baptized Christians were welcome to receive communion, so I decided that I would participate. When it was time to receive communion, everyone went forward and kneeled at the altar. The priest gave each person a piece of the broken bread. Then he went down the line, and each person dipped their bread in the cup of wine, then returned to their seat.
This was followed by some silence, then a few more prayers and blessings. Finally, the dismissal, “the worship has ended, let the service begin.”
My overall impression…It was nice. I actually liked the idea of spoken worship rather than singing. I liked the truth and depth of the liturgy, and I really appreciated the blessings spoken over us. The prayers, scripture, and sermon all felt sturdy and solid.
I think the only question I have is what would it mean if I were to continue attending there.