Lucifer Jones

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bearing No Cross

This weekend I needed to go to church and I needed to save time. I managed to do both and neither.

I went to a local Episcopal church near the beach. It took me about 20 minutes to find a parking space. When I finally arrived, after a 4 block walk, I found an empty pew near the back. I looked all around. The place was filled with young people and I was in the pre-school section. I've been observing the demographics and liturgical conventions of churches I have visited this year. So far, this one was the most light and airy.

Just as was getting used to the crowd, the rector announced the blessing of the backpacks. Two dozen children emerged from all over the congregation with their backpacks and brought them to the alter. One man was late as the priest asked that they raise them into the air. He literally sprinted down the aisle to get his child's backpack into the circle. I have never seen a grown man run through church before. It was as if he were trying to catch the last ferry to Cancun. He made a joke and people laughed.

There was no organ music. There were bongos and tambourines. I'm not sure I heard a piano, nor an acoustic guitar. I'm not sure exactly what kind of music was coming to me, except that it was happy music. Like summer camp.

My burden requires a great deal from my priest, and I know that I cannot get it here. I'm not even sure that I can say that I should be happy for the parishioners. It was only one service, it might not be representative. But I know enough for myself. Still I continue to read murder mysteries and stories from the front in Iraq. I need the kind of faith for the people who bear the cross, not for people who dance around it. At least that was what I needed Sunday, and expect to need again.

It was odd being there - odd being in that particular portion of the body of Christ. I wonder how I will reconcile myself to it.