Reflections: Why I Love Going to Church

Wayne and I are missing church this morning due to a “winter weather advisory” which includes icy rain and slick roads. Then we’re getting some snow! I’ll miss going this morning because weather and wellness permitting, during the fall, winter and spring, Wayne and I go to our Episcopal church in Cape Elizabeth* every Sunday. We prefer the early morning quiet and “contemplative” service which means there are no hymns, choir nor an organ being played. Unlike the later service there is a relatively small attendance of regulars. Here are some things I really love about our ritual:

It takes the edge off.

Decades ago I drank to destroy the clarity of painful memories. Over the years after I put down that destructive compulsion I replaced it with healthy coping skills. Even so, the most sophisticated cognitive-behavioral applications can’t address the issue of forgiveness*. As long as I’m resentful, whether towards others or myself, I’m not at peace. During that hour my burden is lightened. It’s not just an attitude adjustment; it’s healing. I change.

In a crazy, ever-changing world, I can count on it.

There’s comfort in familiarity and having rituals that help ground me while elevating me spiritually. The Lord’s Prayer has special significance for me, yet left to my own devices I don’t stop to pray because I’m “too busy”. On Sunday morning, time becomes sacred and it’s not taken for granted. I’m humbled and appreciate the need to keep praying. 

I love the candles, stained glass and open space.

It’s a vastly different view from what I look at the rest of the week. Electronic distractions are banished from view. I feel a connection to simpler times in New England when people gathered to worship. Other than electric lighting, it seems timeless, especially when the (real) church bell rings.

Good sermons spark compassionate self-reflection.

Our rector, Rev. Timothy A. Boggs,  is a gifted orator whose sermons inspire me. I always welcome the opportunity for self-improvement. It’s much easier to change when I can forgive myself not just for whatever it is I’m berating myself over and about, but forgive that I’m even doing it in the first place. Then I can forgive myself for my self-absorption and focus on how I can be a more compassionate person, especially towards those I was resenting.

Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.

Oscar Wilde

It’s something Wayne and I enjoy as a couple.

We bring our own copy of the Book of Common Prayer that we share during the service. We usher as a couple. On our way home from the service we reflect on the sermon together.

As for what we will be doing this morning instead of going to church, Wayne is catching up on some sleep and I’ll be baking a loaf of gluten-free bread from my own recipe which as always contains zero Xanthan gum or artifice. I tweak it every time and think I’m getting closer to having it become sandwich bread which is the holy grail of gluten-free baking! 

*If you’ve been following my blog since last summer you know that Wayne and I did a Maine Episcopal Summer Chapel Tour. We have become members of St. Ann’s in Kennebunkport so it is now our summer church. In addition to St. Ann’s we will visit with some of the friends we made at the other chapels.

**I know forgiveness is a very charged word. I wanted nothing to do with it for most of my life. It does not mean to forget, nor does it mean the absence of healthy boundary-setting and consequences. I have a lot to share about this topic at a future time.

 

9 thoughts on “Reflections: Why I Love Going to Church

  1. Dear Averyl, Thank you for your reflective blog this morning. You and Wayne were truly missed. I had so wanted you two to hear Tom Cushman’s sermon and to experience Mary Cushman’s celebrating the Eucharist. It was so comforting and familiar to me. As I told Mary after the service, I felt truly and wonderfully blessed at the close of the service. They have been such stalwarts over the years and very good friends of St. Alban’s in good and bad times. I think you would have felt the positive vibes they bring to their life and work. One of the givens is that God loves all of us and our faith hangs on that. Let me tell you, I know that God loves you and Wayne and when you go to St. Ann’s for the summer you will be missed but will be welcomes back to us in the fall. Best wishes, Deborah

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  2. Averyl,
    What a wonderful post. You highlighted some of my favorite things about attending church. My husband and I have had to miss church for 8 weeks now, as we have become caregivers for my mother as she awaits nursing home placement. Unfortunately, I have found it very easy to isolate myself and be angry with God. One misses so much not fellowshipping and worshipping with one’s church family on a regular basis. For me, I need the discipline of being reminded about the nature of God and God’s love. I’m a “glass half-empty” kind of person, and I tend to do best when surrounded by mature Christians who can redirect my focus away from myself! Your point about forgiveness is well-timed and well-defined. Thank you for such a descriptive and personal post. I felt like I was there. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Heather. It sounds like you’re going through a trying situation, so I’m sorry to hear that going to church hasn’t been an option for the past couple of months. I’m really glad then that I wrote this post and it spoke to you! I think we all need gentle reminders on a regular basis. Are you able to spend more time reading inspirational Christian books during this time? Are there people in your church family who can perhaps pay you a visit? Of course, in order to do that, you’d have to reach out. I know that can be humbling, but that, too, is an important practice, especially for those of us who are prone to isolate. You and your husband deserve support so I hope you won’t hesitate to give your church family the gift of being there for you. ❤

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  3. Lovely! We are also members of an Episcopal church, however we attend the “livelier” of the two services offered on Sundays. Wile our service is anything but quiet, we do enjoy the ritual of the liturgy, eucharist and sermon- time to renew and refresh. We also serve together in our church body.
    I’m sorry you had to miss out on service yesterday, but I’m crossing my fingers for a divine GF loaf bread recipe to come from a day spent baking! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I thought of you yesterday when I sliced into my loaf of bread!! It looked like a winner! That is, until I reached the giant hole in the center of the loaf, ha! I need to work on my yeast game. Even so, it’s delicious!

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