Tobi had a sports competition this weekend in Vancouver, BC, so I decided to tag along as a tourist. We stayed with a friend of ours who lives in one of those big glass buildings in downtown Vancouver.
On Sunday Tobi was off being sportif (eventually winning a bronze trophy) and my friend wanted to go his Anglican church, as he always does on Sundays. So I decided to go to church.
It's been many years since I have been to church, Anglican, Mormon or otherwise. In fact, I had never been to an Anglican (Episcopalian) service before. I was interested but slightly guarded in my feeling.
The service was held in a beautiful chapel with stained glass windows. It was 'tasteful' and somewhat traditional. The music was great. (The Anglicans have better hymns than the Mormons. Sorry, guys.)
Completely out of the blue I found tears rolling down my cheeks. This lasted through most of the service. At the moment of communion (sacrament), they made a point of inviting all to participate "no matter where you are in your journey." In other words, there were no conditions placed on my participation-- they didn't demand that I believe in their church or that I cast away the man I love in order to be 'worthy' of the sacrament. They just said "Come and worship with us, as you are." This little act of kindness made me just lose it. I felt 'the spirit' strongly as the priest blessed the host and wine and distributed it. Tears streamed down my face.
I don't mean to criticize the church of my youth, but this Anglican service provided quite a contrast. The nagging undercurrent of fear and disapproval that I always felt in my own church just wasn't there. In its place was a feeling of respectful worship that was open to all.
After the service I shook hands with the priest. I'm sure he had seen my efforts to wipe away the tears without anyone noticing. I told him that I was a refugee of conservative religion and that I felt a sense of brokenness. We talked briefly about my religious background. He offered to meet with me sometime. I didn't have time to take him up on his offer, but I am tempted next time I am in Vancouver to give him a call.