This Easter was a significant one. I don’t think I’ve ever been to church this often. Went 3 times this weekend, and each experience was very different. Which brings me to something I’ve been considering lately.
In New York, people were somewhat obsessed about which denominational background I identify with. Simply saying “Evangelical” wasn’t cutting it, but I didn’t quite know what else to say. Finally, I started using the term “MennoAnglican” and that seemed to communicate my particular church place at the moment. Which satisfied others, but somewhat irked my spirit.
I currently, sort of, attend both a Mennonite Brethren Church and an Anglican Church here in Winnipeg. My dual church personality was first sprouted out of necessity; Faithworks (Mennonite Church) meets on Saturday evenings which is sometimes hard to get to due to my work and ministry schedule. So I began attending St. Matthew’s Anglican on Sunday mornings when I couldn’t make it out to Faithworks.
I have found much richness in this combination, but also some discomfort and angst in this situation. I feel comfortable at Faithworks in many ways. It is the style of worship which my Christian upbringing is most familiar with, and I appreciate their fluidity and flexibility the pastors show in arranging our weekly gatherings. I connect completely with FW’s statement of mission and values. I adore and appreciate the pastoral support I have received from Faithworks. I am appreciative of the opportunities that I do have to serve in music ministry and some other random things. There are a number of excellent people in this faith community. Everything seems fantastic, but I significantly struggle with my place there. With what I can truly give, with where I fit. I have often stated that I never seem to actually “fit” anywhere – I experience a constant nagging feeling of separation at FW and in a number of other Christian communities. Like I don’t belong. Though I have been around for years, I have yet to find a specific place within FW where I feel like I truly belong; a community or smaller group of people whom I am able to share my life with in a meaningful way. I don’t really understand this, and I struggle with what this means. I have often wondered what I am doing wrong here.
At St. Matthews, I have been able to find a very open and welcome community of believers from very diverse backgrounds – this I love. The diversity shown in a worship service at this church is very rich and deep with meaning. Though I often get lost in the thick ritualized service, I find much of the symbolism, common prayers, and other aspects of the service comforting and meaningful. I connect well with female priest, who shares some of the passions and perspective I have on issues of social justice. One of my most favorite parts is that people there are so unrushed. After services or meetings people truly sit together and just . . . are. This is so good for my soul. To feel unrushed, unhurried, to connect with people in a true and leisurely manner. They understand, y’know? They understand about faith and life and community in a very deep way. People there know about each other’s lives and are invested in the community. This is fantastic. But I also still feel a bit of an outsider. Like I am a constant visitor, peering in and learning the ways of the Anglican life. There is much that I respect and love and cherish about this community and about their style of worship. But again, I have yet to feel like I truly fit, like I truly belong. I struggle to not feel stupid when trying to find out what page of the green book we are on. There are many rituals which I do not understand the purpose of. Some of this makes the meaning of the service feel inaccessible. And I find the passing of the peace to be actually very stressful, which is somewhat ironic and funny. I do not know my place here either. I do not know where I can serve. There is no praise band which I can join, I don’t know how to break into this community in a meaningful way. I often sit and look confused.
I find attending both of these churches to be a very meaningful experience for me. They both feed sides of my spirituality which I crave – FW feeds the side of me which is Evangelical, and which seeks a personal experience of god within the context of a unified community, a place where I can call Christ “Lord,” and where people understand and affirm that. St. Matthew’s feeds my craving for ritual, intimate moments in community, diversity in worship and thought, where matters of faith are challenged in tangible and powerful ways from the moment I step inside the door.
Perhaps this tension is good for me. Perhaps it is helpful to be aware of what’s stirring inside of me, my confusion of the pain I experience in Christian community, and what that means for my soul. Perhaps someday I will be able to find a home within a church community. Perhaps I am destined for a life of constant wandering; sometimes I feel that I change and grow so often that it is impossible to stay in one place for more than awhile without pissing people off or having them fear for my soul with my constant questions.
I must admit though, it would be nice to someday find a home.