We’ve committed. Hell, we had our first confirmation class this morning.
After years of waffling, of hurling insults of elitism and masculine language, of denying the abiding current of the liturgy – a current that sustains and challenges – Jonathan and i are committing to the Episcopal Church.
I am not a commitment phobe. I am not afraid of routines or weekly commitments or sharing the peace with people i don’t agree with. I use a label maker for my bureau drawers to delineate socks from underwear, for Chrissakes. I’m not the cliché anti-labeling (as much as i believe in the danger of a single story).
But i am very, very opposed to monogamy when it comes to church denominations.
It’s not a moral thing. It’s not even really a result of theological meandering rooted in my confused Protestant-Catholic dualistic upbringing. I don’t think any one person believes every facet of the catechism of their denomination. I’ve long accepted that part of being in the Church (and a church) is that i’ll never 100% agree. There are too many people in one community to ask for conformity. As deeply as i want a community to universally support feminism and such, i also know that this desire itself can be skewed to be a desire for conformity of mindset. It is the lack of conformity that challenges me to go beyond my own limited scope.
I’m just, well, resistant to roots. And resistant to committing to any church, really.
And i’m really scared of getting hurt.
After congregants telling me my parents’ divorce was because my mother was in a male calling, after i was told God valued my virginity more than my intellect, after years of having to listen to homophobia from the pulpit, i don’t want to have to commit to loving an imperfect place. My dear friend Erin has a book about this very thing: committing to a church means committing to enduring and loving and challenging a lot of suffering.
We went to a different church every Sunday for about four months. I wanted a neighborhood church where whites were the minority, the congregation was queer-friendly, the liturgy used gender-inclusive liturgical language, and any missions focus was primarily local, rather than white-savior global. Jonathan wanted high Christology and weekly Eucharist.
No such church, that we could find, exists. Because what we wanted was our version of perfection.
This morning, our confirmation teacher asked us to share what aspects of our former/home denominations we wanted to bring into our life as members of the Anglican communion.
This question cut at the heart of why we settled on our new church-home.
Moving a lot as a kid meant trying to find churches. But, being Catholic, we didn’t tend to do as much of the “church-shopping” my Protestant peers and i now do. We went where there was Mass. Whether or not the preaching was stellar or pathetic, whatever the congregation looked like, we went to Mass because it was the communal worship and the receiving together that mattered. Committing to a neighborhood church is both committing to your community and committing to changing it.
The exhaustion of our church hunt this fall meant Jonathan and i finally threw up our hands and settled on the church we could walk to. Because the residual Catholic in me wanted to commit to my neighborhood.
What we’ve found, though, was once we got our own expectations out of the way, the Divine was waiting to meet us. In liturgy that makes my feminist heart cringe, i meet Jesus. In a congregation that reads The New Jim Crow while still working on how to live in an anti-racist way, i meet Jesus. In the infant baptisms that make my ex-Baptist husband sweat, he meets Jesus.
And together, we’re meeting each other again for the first time.