Today I went to an Anglican church. Anglicanism is a faith based in Christianity, and comes from the Church of England. They see themselves as the middle between Reformed Protestantism and Roman Catholicism. One unique part of the Anglican worship is their Book of Common Prayer, a collection of services that has been used for centuries, and one of the ties that bind the world-wide Anglican churches together.
So today I went to an Anglican service. I walked there from my house, and found I was pretty nervous along the way. I am both excited and nervous to experience faiths that are quite different from what I’ve seen, but I’m starting close to home.
I was raised in the United Church of Canada, and they are a very progressive church, allowing lesbian and gay ministers, gay marriage. I was only a kid, but what I remember from church is nothing scary. But as I grew up and knew myself, I became a transgender, bisexual man and all of the sudden I didn’t fit into anyone’s neat little box, and every church had a different opinion of what they should do with me.
So I always approach churches with trepidation. This time, I got there and the big front doors were shut and no one was going in, so I moved along to the back door near the parking lot. I found my way up to the sanctuary but ended up on the pulpit side. A few people said hi and showed me where to sit. Pews, something familiar. I sat, and read through the bulletin they gave me. A bulletin or Order of Service is a few sheets of paper folded into a book that lists the call and answer prayers, the hymns, and basically, the order the service will go in. That was familiar too.
It was predictable enough, reading-song-standup-sitdown-prayer-repeat, but somewhere near the beginning they did something they called Share the Spirit. Basically, it was “shake as many people’s hands as you can before the organ starts playing.” Now, I mentioned in the first post I have Asperger’s. Shaking hands and looking someone in the eye both at the same time is just something I can’t do. Seriously. There’s a big name for it but it’s a sort of agnosia – the tactile input shorts out my visual sense and turns their faces into meaningless blots of colour and kind of distorts the world around me. So I just stayed where I was, shook every hand that came at me, and hoped I wasn’t appearing rude. Luckily after that I could sit down and try and reboot my visual sense so I could see things properly again. It took a while, there were a lot of hands, but I could hear fine, and I listened to the sermon with my full attention.
Unfortunately I tend to remember obscure things like the floor tile pattern and forget normal things like what the sermon was about. I do remember feeling a connection at one point though – that little bit of Spirit in me felt a connection and my heart felt opened. But it was like the Spirit was telling me, “This is good, what you are doing. Keep it up. But keep going, this is not the one.”
Apparently every Sunday they have the Eucharist, which in United Church I knew as Communion.We all lined up one by one, and moved behind the pulpit to kneel in a circle on a cushion with a rail in front of us. Two parish members brought along first a tiny piece of bread to represent Jesus’s body, which we ate, and then a silver cup of wine, which we sipped from. This is supposed to represent the Last Supper, Jesus’ last meeting with the disciples. At the Last Supper, Jesus predicted Judas’ betrayal, and that Peter would deny/disown him 3 times before the rooster crows the next morning,
I’ve never knelt before a gold-coloured rail on a red cushion to receive communion, but it wasn’t all that different.
After that, the service was over and I went home. I felt like I wished I could do this every day, exercise my faith, find what my higher power is faster. I suppose I just need to learn to wait, to pace myself in this journey.
I’m excited. There is so much to experience, and don’t worry, I’ll share it all with you.
Peace be with you.
CHURCH COMFORT RATING: 8/10