Monday, June 8, 2015

Your faith journey as different from your family members.

Here is an E-mail exchange (edited for anonymity) between me and a customer. Perhaps it has happened to you too.

I was raised in the Brethren & Baptist churches (I even trained to be a Baptist minister).  When I married, my wife & I attended a series of Reformed churches (primarily Presbyterian & Reformed Church in America) before settling on a non-denominational "mega-church" when our 2 boys were young.

As I grew in my faith and as my life philosophy evolved, I found something missing.  Having morphed into someone with progressive ideals, I became weary of checking my ideology at the door on Sunday.  About three years ago, I was blessed to find Grace Episcopal Church in (city, (state).  The liturgy and the acceptance made me very glad.  At first, I wept at nearly every Eucharist.  Heretofore, it was my belief that not even our gracious God understood (much less embraced) me.

About a year ago, after I had made the decision to accept reception into the Anglican community, my sponsor blessed me with the gift of "Hour by Hour".  In addition to the Daily Office, I have found Hour by Hour to be both blessing and balm.

My mom continues to worship at a fundamentalist Baptist church.  For years she's been wringing her hands over my 101-year-old Episcopalian grandmother in (different city), certain that, without a dramatic "salvation experience", she'll burn eternally in the fires of hell.  I keep reminding mom that she just might be surprised to bump into Grandma in Heaven one day.

So far, my wife has not entertained the idea of joining me at Grace on a consistent basis.  We worship together at a nearby Reformed church on Sundays.  In spite of her rejection of Anglican practice, I am thankful that we share the same basic faith in Christ, and I take comfort that she remains at my side after nearly 30 years of marriage.

I'm afraid I've rambled, and you have a business to run.  Thanks again for your service, and pray with me that my mom finds blessing and encouragement in her Birthday gift.

Best Regards and Peace of Christ,

John’s reply:
Thank you Jay for your interesting message about your faith journey and those of your family members.
I have found that our individual faith and our understanding of God in our lives is very important to each faithful person. Then, when a beloved family member diverges from what we think is spiritual truth it hits us pretty hard. It looks like you have expanded your view of God's love to be more encompassing than other members of your family. You feel good about it and they worry about it.
I too think, in all humility, that we may be very surprised by those we find in God's loving embrace on the Other Side. I'm trying to leave those thoughts and decisions to God. I have enough to do just trying to worship God and to respect the dignity of each person in this life.

One of the joys of this ministry-which-is-the-store is hearing parts of the stories of our customer/friends. Yours is certainly one of them, Jake.