Yes, Episcopalians are Christians

Yes, I’m Episcopalian now. Yes, I’m still Christian.
I know that different denominations have disagreements, but I have never had the experience where I felt people doubted my sincerity to Christ simply because I changed denominations...until recently.

I mention this because a friend of mine from a former church I went to (conservative Baptist) told me (probably without realizing I had “converted”) that she was concerned because a friend of hers was visiting an Episcopalian church, and she didn’t think her friend knew what they “really” believed.  She said her friend liked the ritual and service of the Episcopal church and “that’s a pretty poor reason to choose a church.”

Um, really? Not if God is speaking to you through said ritual. A lot of people go to churches because of the incredible music, or extensive children's programs. Yet, no one says, “well, good programs for your kids is a poor reason to choose a church.” Granted, that should not be the ONLY reason to select a church, but friend was alarmed because her friend experienced a liturgical service...and she liked it.

She asked where she could get a copy of our beliefs, like it was something hidden like out of a Dan Brown novel. (And of course, then I had to keep my passive aggressiveness in check and resist the urge to joke that we worshipped a head of lettuce named Ralph.)

Of course we disagreed on some things (I think she thought I was Catholic ) but I just don’t see how much good can come of debates like that. I think people are often less concerned about my relationship to Jesus Christ and more concerned with whether or not I agree with everything he/she does at whatever church he/she attends.

Bottom line: we may worship in different ways---but the important thing is the focus toward the one true God. I think whatever we do that helps us focus on Him, whether it be with contemporary music and drum sets or contemplative prayer, is a good thing.

Is any denomination right about everything? Nope. I think that as long as we live in a fallen world with human bodies, we are frail and incapable of understanding the deeper mysteries of the Lord. I think as long as we are in this world,we are prone to division because of our own selfish nature.

I have to confess, debates like this upset me, and the Lord has told me I need to seriously back away from them---I can be like a dog with a bone.

As I got angry and hurt and upset by this, the Lord convicted me--- I did not need to criticize a well-meaning person who I dearly loved, even though I disagreed with her. This verse has been in the forefront of my mind,and I think we would do well to keep it in the forefront of any dogmatic discussion:

Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. (Romans 14:4--NIV)

Poem: Forgiveness

Forgiveness stings a bit...
Soft and cunning, you forget
that you don't deserve the slightest restoration
the slightest recognition
from the God you serve.

Yet somehow, he pulls you through the mist as it
settles across the frosty pond
and you're gone---
He pulls you under into forgiveness...

baptizing you...

--poem copyright 2011 The Artsy Episcopalian

My favorite religious piece of art

It's by Salvador Dali. I love Dali, though I recognize that his stuff is kind of out there, and as the saying goes "good art won't match your sofa."

I love this painting. It's called "The Temptation of Saint Anthony.

We are not the hero of our story

I was reading John Eldridge's "Epic." With all due respect, I wonder if we truly are the hero of our own story.

I believe the Lord may be calling me to something---but why is it we always like to think that our calls to service to him have to be dramatic, featuring ourselves as the hero. For example, everyone wants to think of themselves as being the next Billy Graham or Desmond Tutu, but what if God is just calling you  to serve as athe Sunday School teacher for a bunch of ADHD three year olds in Podunk, Texas?

I think that's my issue. I believe God is calling me to do something, and I want to believe it is sooooooo important. Like God can't get this done without me. Like I am going to be the next Flannery O' Connor who turns the world upside down wtih her fiction that is heavily watered in Jeuss themes.

The truth is: God doesn't need us at all. He doesn't need anything. He is God. However, he CHOOSES to use us. This is a privilege; we cannot pick and choose that we are only going to serve God if we get accolades, or if we do something dramatic  like move to Japan or something.

Come thou long-expected Jesus.
I am such a sinner, and His holiness is so great.