“The Episcopal Church Welcomes You,” the ubiquitous sign says. How were you welcomed by the Episcopal Church?
I remember one of my earliest experiences in an Episcopal Church was at the principal celebration of the Holy Eucharist on Easter Day at Christ Church, Oberlin, Ohio in 2001.
I had grown up receiving communion in a protestant church where it was more common than not just to remain seated as large, cumbersome, silver trays of processed bread and grape juice came in your general direction. Nothing was really required of me. I simply reached down and took my pick of bread and juice.
What a difference then on that Easter Day 2001, one of the first few times I had received the Eucharist in an Episcopal Church. I was presenting myself by coming forward to the altar – and more than that, I was welcome at the feast. And all of it was accompanied by a beautiful liturgy, great preaching, and music for congregation and choir. I was surprised – overcome, really – by the sense of welcome that I received on that holy day.
I have also been struck recently by words of welcome embedded in our church’s song. Brian Wren’s wonderful hymn “When Christ was lifted from the earth” brings forth images of God’s arms outstretched in love and embrace. The conclusion of the hymn is a prayer: “may I in Christ be free to welcome and accept his own as Christ accepted me.”
Read the rest [PDF] on page 5 of the latest issue of my parish's newsletter.
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