A gift when traveling on a Sunday is watching for opportunities to worship. For me, even as an introvert, worship always has to have a community piece.
That said, as someone who, even as a nonparochial priest, a Sunday without responsibilities is a rare gift.
So I had a slow morning. Coffee, cinnamon toast, and quiet time in front of the sunflower fireplace. Then off to Coffee Apothecary for public coffee. Okay. And second breakfast.
We met the owners of Coffee Apothecary right when the store first opened. They became among the first of those who received a gift to the charity of their choice for my 24 project—24 gifts of $100 in thankfulness of 24 years of ordained ministry. In talking to them about this gift, I had come out of the closet as a priest. From their response, I’m pretty sure they aren’t part of any worshipping community.
I pray for them every morning I am here (and others times, too). They have a true spiritual gift of hospitality and do such good work serving those who come into their shop.
I’m usually pretty open about saying some word of faith with folks I meet. Something, and I do believe it was the Spirit, gently held me back from telling them I’d prayed for them today. Too churchy. In not a good way. The faith part of our relationship is mainly with actions.
They remind me of so many good and fine people for whom Christianity is not particularly palatable.
We Christians have done this to ourselves.
I’ve been thinking about how much courage it takes to walk into a church for the first time. I’ve been thinking about how insider most churches are. I’ve been thinking about how the only way most folks who don’t have a church will ever have the courage to walk into a church is if someone they trust invites them to accompany them.
It’s why we must seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as Christ loves us.
It’s why we are going to have to reimagine how we are Church and how we do church.
After our visit with our coffee friends, my best friend and I went home to pray some more in our garden at the casa. An invitation had gone out from the Episcopal Church to ring a bell for 5 minutes at 3 PM EDT in remembrance of the arrival of the first slaves in what would become our country 400 years ago today. I knew my friends at St. Mary’s we’re doing so at 2 CDT, and so we joined them in silence (no bell to ring) at 1 MDT after praying prayers for midday.
At 5, we joined our neighbors at the local Episcopal Church for a Healing Service in the style of Taize.
I must say. Yes, I worship in unfamiliar places often, and yet I am always a bit anxious when I go to a new place. Yes. It even takes courage for me to go worship in a place for the first time.
Thankfully parking was clear. The music was lovely, and all the ends and outs of worship were clearly rubriced in the worship booklet. It was a gentle service.
I wondered. Would our coffee shop friends felt welcome? Comfortable? The beauty of the space and the carefully planned liturgy I think would have been holy for them. Still. How would they have even known to be there? It would have taken more relationship than we have for a trusted invite.