Today, looking for a place to record random musings, I dusted off an old journal. Well, from 2007--a month or two after I decided to give church another chance.
At the suggestion of a cathedral matriarch, I had just begun preparing for confirmation by journaling about the Articles of Religion. Ever so thorough, Episcopalians have 39 of them first formally established in 1801. They mostly consist of doctrinal statements ("Of Faith in the Holy Trinity") but extend to ordination ("Of Consecration of Bishops and Ministers") and the relationship between church and state ("Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates).
Right now, my friends are laughing. They know my attention span for rules and regs. I made it to Article III before I abandoned the project in favor of quotes from Eugene O'Neill and Anne Lamott and reflections on John Donne's poetry. (Yes, that's a fair-sized chunk of my spiritual discipline).
Oh, well. I've never been good at following a party line. Which makes this vow a fascinating one for a "non-joiner" like me.
As a child, I was far more likely to create a club than join one. No surprise, my clubs were cause driven. There's a new movie out called "Hotel for Dogs." After reading the book almost 35 (gulp!) years ago, I hatched elaborate plans for creating a hotel in my treehouse for abandoned dogs. I recruited friends to the effort--a Hotel for Dogs Club. And I was young enough to think that my parents wouldn't have a clue what I was up to 100 feet from the house.
Well, that particular cause never came to fruition. It's kind of sad when the imagination of childhood fizzles against the reality of execution.
So how strange, all these years later, that I've joined this club called the Episcopal Church--a church very different than the pentecostal church of my youth (though if Roman Catholicism is genetic, that could explain a lot). And we're not talking about my local parish (Holy Trinity) here. I joined a big honkin' mainstream church, and by extension the Anglican communion (provided they don't boot us out). I mean, the Body of Christ is one thing, but this has gotten pretty damned specific.
I've not only joined the club, but I'm ready to commit the rest of my days to an ordered life in service to it. And if you really listen to the vow, this is not just about a promise to God, this is a commitment in the presence the Church (note the capital C) to serve God in the Church. Once ordained, I'll be a deacon for the rest of my life--good times and bad, regardless of how I feel about the Church at any particular moment. That is a trust and a responsibilty.
P.S. To create a groovy tapestry like the one I did (above) go to The Historic Tale Construction Cit (sic).