We’re all in this together. Fortunately, though imperfect, we have something to offer: safe harbor.
For more than 15 years, I didn’t go to church (except for lots of visits in my professional capacity). When I was in my early 20s, the Episcopal church I attended regularly split. Factions formed, sides were taken, harsh words were spoken. A spiritual tug of war ensued and left the community in tatters. It was awful, traumatic — the worst that church has to offer.
I love Jesus and all that he told us to do and be while he walked among us in the flesh. But I no longer trusted his followers to not behave appallingly. I’d had enough of Christians shooting their own. So I left.
In hindsight, that was pretty shortsighted. We are believers, but we are also human. We stumble, fall, and drag others down with us. We wallow in our own hypocrisy and look to fellow Christians rather than the One we should emulate as the only perfect example of how to be fully human and completely faithful.
After more than a decade of lurking in the narthex, a couple of years ago I tiptoed into the sanctuary of a small Episcopal parish in suburban Chicago and found safe harbor. I was surprised to learn that this parish had suffered a split several years earlier, too. But what remained were not sharp edges and bitterness from the acrimony that had shattered the community like a cheap mirror. Instead, I found the light of God’s love refracted even more beautifully by the cracks and imperfections.
Your webmistress across this in the St Nicholas Twitter feed, and wanted to tell the story of how St Nick’s is a “small Episcopal parish in suburban Chicago” not unlike the one Cathleen describes. We also offer safe harbor (at least we strive so to do, kind of like in the Book of Common Prayer, except with smiles and coffee after the service).
We offered safe harbor to grieving families this week. A few weeks ago, we offered safe harbor to visitors and members who were on journeys, not always of their choosing. Next week, we offer safe harbor to a new human who will be baptized into a life in Christ.
St Nicholas had not suffered a split, exactly, in the past, although the church went through the pangs of disagreement some years ago (before my time) and the pangs of rebirth more recently as we lived through the merger with Holy Innocents. We hope to offer safe harbor (via the meetings of AA/GA groups we host, and our food pantry) to many more in the years to come.