The Episcopal Experience, Week 3 November 29, 2010Posted by Matt in The Church Search.
Tags: Advent, End Times, peace, Southaven, St. Timothy's Episcopal Church
We had a great time visiting family in Arkansas around the Thanksgiving holiday, but following Arkansas’ triumphant victory over LSU Saturday night, I loaded up the kids and drove back to our home in Southaven. There was a reason for our nighttime exit and it had nothing to do with being tired of Turkey and homemade desserts (that would never happen). No, the next day was the first Sunday of Advent and we wanted to make sure we made it to the service at the Episcopal Church we have been attending.
It was interesting to me that the Lectionary readings for the first Sunday of Advent, particularly Isaiah 2:1-5 and Matthew 26:36-44, dealt with a second coming of Jesus, while the season itself is a look back at the first. That topic then was both the object of discussion in class and of the short sermon during worship.
The conversation in class was great as we talked about the fairly recent Evangelical idea of a Rapture as seen in the widely read and poorly written Left Behind series, and other ideas held by those across the spectrum. In the end, I really appreciated the remarks of the rector, Patrick, when he said that, in his view, people get too caught up in all of the end time prophecies. He said something to the effect of, “Many people spend so much of their time in hopeful expectation to escape this world that they forget to live.” It’s a sentiment that I’ve long thought and sometimes expressed and it makes me hopeful to know that I’m not the only one who feels that way. The overall thought was that it really doesn’t matter how it ends or if it ends at all. Some even suggested that perhaps this life is it, that perhaps there is no eternal reward or punishment and that we should make the most of our lives here.
On another note, I wish I had a dollar for every time the word peace was used in the service. It seems as though everything said ends with some exhortation for peace. It’s refreshing to be among the types of people who would be first in line to “beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks.”
The more time I spend at St. Timothy’s, the more I feel at home, that this is perhaps where we belong. I love the liturgies and the fact that people with unconventional ideas (at least they would be in most churches) are treated with respect. I can already tell that it will be difficult to leave after Advent to move on in our church visiting. At the same time I don’t want to automatically jump headlong into the first place we visit. We’ll see.
I finally felt as though I got to meet a few people this week, which is ironic since I was there without Diana (she had to work) and with the kids. We also set up some time to have dinner with the rector and his family later on this week and I think we are all really looking forward to getting to know each other a little better.