Monday, 27 February 2012

Tea Gazing

I stand at the counter, staring down into my steeping tea, lost in thought.

I regret my earlier impatience and misdirected anger. I love these kids so much and all the weakness is in me, my own to bear. And yet I am so like them, losing my temper because I'm hungry, being unreasonable because I'm tired, only I am the grown-up here, the one who should know better. Mother-guilt; I wonder if it ever really goes away.

As I watch the tea leaves swirling around, the familiar words start running through my mind, my heart. Most Merciful God, I confess that I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed, by what I have done, and by what I have left undone... My heart and mind together finish* the well-worn prayer of confession. I linger for a minute longer, then remove the tea leaves and draw myself out of my thoughts and back into the steady demands of motherhood.

My tea is cold by the time I finish it.

Today I miss liturgical worship more than usual. There's always a part of me that misses it, but my Book of Common Prayer - a gift from the husband who knows me so well and yet in other ways wonders if he'll ever truly know me, this confusing and ever-changing person he married - is always close at hand. I read the familiar words aloud, often, hoping to write them on my children's hearts just as the familiar prayers and words of Scripture were written on my own through the years.

But it's not the same. I miss the rumbling of an entire congregation petitioning God aloud as one. I miss the depth, the richness, and the beauty of liturgical worship. I miss the hymns led by the robed choir. I miss kneeling at the alter, bowing my head as I receive the blessed sacrament of Holy Communion. I miss the reverence. I miss stepping into God's story alongside others as we follow together the Church calendar - Advent, Christmastide, Epiphany, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, Pentecost, and Ordinary Time - together telling the entirety of our redemption in Christ, no part left out, over and over this individual and corporate pilgrimage.

Now I walk alongside others virtually, thanks to this double-edged sword that is the Internet, but here I am faced too with the relentless criticism of those who choose not to observe the church calendar; can't we all just let each other worship and learn and walk and grow in our own way? Must our journeys all be so identical; is God so limited? It hurts but I press on, drawing eyes off self and back to God as I walk and re-walk this Gospel road.

I miss the Anglican church. Our church now, small but home-like, is beautifully sincere and passionately community-minded. It is what we wanted, what we searched for. But oh, how I miss what will always feel like my true church home. How I long for the richness and depth of corporate liturgical worship.

How beautiful that day will be when Christ's Church is once again united and whole. One day every knee shall bow before God, together praising Him with one voice. For now, I seek my place amidst the brokenness as I worship Him in faith through the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit.

But today, I'm just missing home.


* ...I have not loved You with my whole heart. I have not loved my neighbours as myself. I am truly sorry and I humbly repent. For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on me and forgive me, that I may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen.

15 comments:

  1. How interesting - our church journeys led us in opposite directions. I was raised in a non-denominational Protestant church, then a small community church affiliated with the Presbyterian church. Now though, I am a Catholic who attends Mass every Sunday - I have found the liturgy, the tradition, "the richness and depth of corporate liturgical worship.", to satisfy something my soul craved growing up in the Protestant church.
    Thank you for the honesty you post with.
    God Bless.

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    1. That is interesting; thank you for sharing that bit of your journey. There is just something about corporate liturgical worship that can't seem to be replaced. I hope that we will find our way back to the Anglican church at some point. I am glad you have found a home that satisfies your soul's craving.

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  2. And this is why I find so much comfort in your blog and in your humbling words: we work at an Anglican church and yet long for a more house group kind of setting... but we keep on keeping on for the love of the One who sent us here, from South America to the UK, to work with people in a diff culture and setting. I love how liturgy is the same in every language and that that specific confession prayer is said back home in Spanish and is repeated here in English. We should all be able to stand as one: we are ONE in Christ! Much love and many blessings on your way!

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    1. That is what I love as well, Suyai; every Anglican church feels so familiar. I wish we had been able to find a local Anglican parish that fit in other ways as well, but for now I'm doing my best to embrace something outside of the familiar even while hoping it is only for a season. Blessings to you as well!

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  3. Just out of pure curiosity, what kind of church do you now attend?

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    1. We attend a non-denominational house church.

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  4. Amen sister. I grew up attending an Anglican church and I have the BEST memories of St. Luke's.
    You do know that my city (your old one) has wonderful Anglican churches... grin... am I tempting you yet????

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    1. Oh Trace, you have no idea how much I miss our Anglican church family back there! I am constantly tempted to move back solely for that reason (and you and your sweet boy, of course!!).

      I don't think I knew that you grew up in the Anglican church! That's really interesting. :)

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  5. What a beautiful post... I needed to hear so much of what you have written here. Thanks for sharing! (May I link to this post?) Can I ask which book it is that you have for common prayer?

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    1. Thank you, Erica, and please do feel free to link. The book I have is the Church of England Book of Common Prayer, 1662 edition (the newer editions are, of course, easier to read; I'm partial to the Canadian Book of Common Prayer, 1962).

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  6. I am Anglican (convert), too, and I spent the greater part of the last 4 years pining for my home church, and now I'm finally back. But finally being back I feel lost. I feel like I don't fit in. Like motherhood doesn't jive with being part of a church (and my church is SO child/family friendly, including discouraging using the nursery, paedo-communion, many of the families being gentle discipline, etc), but I still feel like I can't "just" be a mother or that being a mother is not enough or that there is not place for "just" being a mother. The last two years I feel like I've just been going through the motions. I used to love the Liturgy, it used to drive me to God. And I guess it still does because it keeps me going every Sunday. It forces me to participate and be outside myself. It shows me when repetition is good - when I have no words of my own to bring. I think so much of it is that I'm sick of Christianity being the biggest proponent of hurting children instead of lifting them up like Jesus did. I'm also kind of tired of passionless worship - I want to be in an African church with liturgy, drums and dancing. I want to not feel like an outsider in my "AP" beliefs. Have you ever felt this way?!

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    1. Oh yes, Michelle, I so often have! I want a church filled with passion, love, and kindness. I want a church where children are a natural part of the service (rather than shuffled off to Sunday School so adults can have their proper "quiet time"), and where AP is the norm rather than the exception. I want liturgy alongside joy. Some days I don't know what I want, I just know that I don't feel like I quite fit in anywhere.

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  7. oh would I love to chat about this over tea! I've been introduced to liturgy in the last 10 yrs here in Van city. I think why not - wouldn't your current church allow you to read together that prayer of confession? Why does it have to be all or nothing? I've been so profoundly moved by the liturgies - both historically common or newly written by church members!
    Oh and I do have so much issue around 'leaving' the child in Sunday school. My son WANTS me to stay....why is their pressure for the parents to leave? Frankly, in young motherhood my ability to listen/hear an entire sermon is almost nil so I learn much more from a the slower pace of the storytelling in the Godly Play stories my son has in his class.
    Thankfully, there is a continuum where we go and freedom for kids to stay for the 2nd half as well. And worship is often lovingly prepared with the littlest in mind with scarves, percussive instruments, and repetitive music/words that engages them as well.
    And with some liturgy being repeated through a church season and simple enough, younger pre-readers can memorize...even if its the simple "Lord, hear our prayer" in response to others' spoken prayers.
    I for sure think that liturgy has a beautiful place in corporate worship as do hymns that have been around for centuries! (=
    Thanks for reminding of the goodness I have been gifted with in my church community. Sandra

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    1. Your church services sound beautiful, Sandra! I would love to see if our church would integrate some liturgy in our service; you're right, it doesn't (or shouldn't!) have to be all or nothing. Our church is very small and still in the forming/growing stage, so this is the ideal time to shape how the services will be played out. Thank you!

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  8. We have been away from ur home (Anglican ) chruch for 6 months. And I really miss those passages too.

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