A few weeks back, our family packed and headed to the mountains. We were in a place close to an Episcopal church, and the rector was a friend from college (actually met at an All State High School Choral Festival as we were in the Sight Reading Chorus - yeah, nerdom and geekdom, but oh so cool at the same time).
We had the same piano professor, majored in music therapy, and headed on and even shared working at a state hospital together for 6 months together. Anyway, throughout the years and paths have crossed and meandered, but no matter what, when we get together, we pick up where we left off like we have never been apart.
The little historic church in which my friend is rector, is in the heart of a small North Georgia foothills town. So on Sunday of our vacation we visited the church. A little older than the church we are members, it's architecture has a similar feel but it is Greek in style, and is the oldest structure in its diocese. The pews are straightback and were built when we humans were smaller in stature. Interestingly, it remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I haven't seen that too much lately, but then again, I don't get around that much checking to see if church doors are open.
It's not often we have an opportunity to attend another church in our tradition, and it's interesting to see what happens - how do folks treat the newcomer? how is worship the same and different?
It's always nice to hear a good sermon given without notes - not sure how one can do it, but she did and did it well.
During the exchange of the peace, the folks sitting behind us made sure they recognized we were newcomers, asking us if we were visiting or new to the area. A quick hello and welcome to the church - just enough that we knew we were welcomed there.
The Eucharist was chanted and with the priest's clear pure voice, with her excellent pitch and certainty, made it worshipful in its beauty. Your musical training has served you well in your ministry as a priest.
As we left, the friendliness of the congregation was heart warming. It was just enough to think, yes, I would attend here, but not overwhelming. Interestingly, I met a complete stranger who actually knew some folks at our home congregation and also had studied music under the same professor as me, during different years (Twilight Zone music please).
Most importantly, we enjoyed the service and felt the warmth and love of a congregation.