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Disclaimer: This is written purely on my opinions and experiences alone and may or may not apply to all people, all traditional churches.

In the heart of the city I live in, you’ll find a church with traditional Gothic architecture. Towers that reach to the sky, stained glass everywhere, heavy wooden doorways within arched doorways. Inside, the smell of beeswax and wood soothes the senses, the altar sits East, golden and shining in it’s splendor. If it is quiet, every sound echoes in the sanctuary and if there are people, a quiet chatter abounds. Anglican custom decrees silence before service but many women enjoy church gossip instead while the men watch after the children and sit in silence awaiting the choir procession. Five minutes before service starts, the bell in the bell tower is rung, silencing all. The organ starts, the choir enters from the back of the sanctuary singing the appointed hymn. Behind them, the altar guild carries the cross high for all to bow as it passes their pew, both priests sing along with the choir dressed in their vestibules, and the four Franciscan brothers follow before all take their appointed seats at the altar.

If you have ever attended an Anglican/Episcopalian service, you know the worship exercise you do. Stand, sit, kneel, sit, stand. There is no raising of hands in worship, there is only holding the Book of Common Prayer, clasping your hands in confession of sin, and accepting the Bread/crossing your arms at Communion. Everything is routine, if the service is light-hearted or solemn the people reflect that. If you’re lucky, your priest who gives the sermon understands how to make you laugh before preaching the truth, otherwise they are blunt and unemotional.

This is my church, it is where you can find me Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. If you see me, you’ll see me trying to hold back tears because I love God or maybe I’m too tired and I worship by rote, mentally forgiving God for the lack of emotional that is due Him. I love my church, I love the people as I ought to, but I do not love it’s community.

Compare this with the other church I attend online Sundays; The worship leaders openly cry during singing-whether joyful or melancholic. They express their heartfelt love to the laity, their bottomless love for God. The Pastor is always light-hearted and humorous- even when the sermon is otherwise. He doesn’t use tough love unless he has to. The pastor’s name is John Burke, author of “Mud and the Masterpiece” and many other books. Even the leader for the online chat is easily understood to be extremely welcoming and happy. I love the church, the people because I want to, and it’s community.

So what is the difference?

The difference is this: the church I attend in person is traditional, the online is not. Granted, the traditional church is Episcopalian and the other Non-Denominational but that is no matter. In this day and age, especially millennials (post coming soon on millennials and the church), we all want “come as you are” churches. We want churches that will accept us in all our brokenness, that will still support us and love us. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did? I’m sure worship is important, but I strongly believe that when it comes down to it, He wants us to “love one another as I have loved you.” Jesus loves us despite our sins, despite our wrongdoings and our faults, this is what He wants us to do and so, when I say traditional liturgy and traditional churches is a “come as we want you space,” I mean the people expect us to be ready to worship. They expect us to come in pretending we are perfect and without sin. The community does not love us still with our brokenness, they do not support us. In fact, I would go so far as to say that at least 1 out of every 10th person is there not because they have to, but because they want to and they worship with their heart.

I encourage churches to create a “come as you are” space. Make this more known, service the people as Jesus would. If we would call ourselves Christian, we ought to intend to be more like Christ in love than following every Christian rule and assuming that’s what Jesus would do.

Are you more like Christ or are you more like Christianity?

 

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Hello all and welcome to the second post here!

Today we’re going to be talking about Lent. Most people have heard of Ash Wednesday, typically recognized as the day after Fat Tuesday. Still more know next to nothing about Lent save that they’ve heard people giving up something for the season. Is this you, too? How many of you know what Lent really is and why it’s important? Maybe you think it’s just a time to fast and pray more often. Maybe you think anyone can participate and it’s simply a time to give something up-like a New Year’s Resolution.

Lent is commonly overlooked-even in traditional churches. The reason is understandable, it can be grueling and depressing. It’s the dark before the light of Easter. It’s often overlooked because the meaning is forgotten. No one remembers the importance. We may attend the solemn Ash Wednesday service and understand once again the heavy burden of the black cross and what it symbolizes. Then we leave, endure the stares, wash away the cross and retire to sleep. The next day, we go about the day as if it was a day like any other.

Lent is more than this. It is more than beginning with a black cross marked on your head and ending with Jesus’s resurrection. It is more than simply giving something up and adding in another prayer or two. In order to better understand the importance of Lent, we need to relearn it’s origins.

When Jesus came to the River Jordan to be baptized by John the Baptist, He was starting the journey into the wilderness. He left behind his disciples and entered the barren desert to face the temptations of Satan and strengthen Himself for what was coming. 40 days and 40 nights of minimal food-likely bread and some water-walking and praying and fasting. We know Satan’s greatest tool is to question your identity. Just as he questioned Jesus if He really is the Son of God-so does Satan question our identity as children of God.

40 is an important number in the Bible. Moses spent 40 days on Mount Sinai with God, there was 40 days and nights of the flood, the Hebrew people walked 40 days to the Promised Land. We don’t know why God chose 40 days, it could have been 20, it could have been just one week. A look at numerology tells us that 40 symbolizes the readiness in ourselves to build higher consciousness developed on all levels of living-mentally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Makes sense, right? Lets look at some more: 40 needs discipline. That’s very important, especially during Lent. We need discipline, which we attain by more prayer, by fasting, by repentance through the help of God so that we might become more like Jesus and appreciate what Jesus has done for us.

There’s more to Lent, that is, the Holy Week leading up to Easter Day. Which days of the week are observed vary in denominations but in whole, we have: Palm Sunday (Jesus’s joyful entrance into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey-fulfilling Isaiah’s prophecy), Maundy Thursday (the Last Supper and the Garden of Gethsemane), Good Friday (Jesus’s crucifixion), and finally Holy Saturday (Jesus in the tomb). Why these days and this week is important is common knowledge but there will be a post as we approach Holy Week to discuss these days and how they relate to Lent.

After all this, why do we repent? Why do we fast? Why do we prayer more constantly during this time? It’s not only to be like Jesus nor to simply observe-it’s to start clean. Like a Christian new year in the Litugical Calendar. We repent because we see our sins, the same sins that Jesus saw and chose to die for. We pray for mercy for that reason, we pray for cleanliness in God’s eyes, we pray for forgiveness. We fast so that we may do penance for our sins, recognizing that we will always be sinners and always need help. We fast, also, so the better to focus on God and His Spirit.

This Lenten season, I invite you to observe-in the best way you can-the solemn season of Lent. This is not a time for celebration but for mourning, for seeking mercy, for God’s forgiveness. It is the time to fully recognize the sacrifice God made when He begot His only son for us, repent from the same sins that hung Him on the cross.

Let us pray:

Almighty Father, grant that we may turn from our sinful ways to you. Give us your undeserved mercy and forgiveness, that we may seek new life and recognize the gift of Our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit. One God now and forever, amen.

 

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Hello all and welcome to my first post on this blog! I’m really looking forward to the journey here, talking about God and all the things to do with the Big Man.

Allow me to introduce this blog, I’ll be writing devotionals, prayers, we’ll be doing bible studies as well! I’ll also be writing a few other miscellaneous posts, as they come by the Holy Spirit. Since I am a believer in astrology and an astrologer myself, I’ll add that in to the mix and possibly even explore a Christian side of astrology!

If you would like to learn about me, you can click on the ‘about’ tab above and feel free to always comment or ask any questions at all!

my testimony:

I would say this is a love story but it’s really a story of how I found the father I needed. When I was three years old, I contracted meningitis and died for 7 minutes. I was told I had seen some things but I don’t remember them (due to post-traumatic amnesia) and my parents are afraid to talk about it. I was later in the hospital at 7 years old for appendicitis turned fatal and returned once more for a misstep in the surgery. It is my wholehearted belief that God had brought me back each time, ensured I was still alive and the reason why is something I still have yet to see.

I never had a childhood. People always ask about it, they want to know if I was like other children, if I played outdoors and had friends. I can’t tell them that I didn’t, that I wasn’t normal and didn’t have that blessing. I would rather not go into detail, but what happened to me is something that will continue to affect me for the rest of my life-partly because it was all I knew, partly because of what I got from it, and partly because I never had the parent-child relationship I needed and wanted.

Now this is not to say that I was raised in the church and found God that way. As far as I can remember, I have always believed in God and angels and even spirits. I believe I was born with that belief and my natal chart supports that as well. My mom is agnostic, my dad atheist. However, on my mother’s side the family is Lutheran and my father’s side is Anglican (which is the UK version of the Episcopal Church). As a matter of fact, I didn’t even go to church until 7-8 months ago.

I always had a problem with the Christian religion. My experiences with it was mostly with fundamentalists, those who sincerely believed that because I’m deaf, gay, trans-I would go to Hell, I’m unloved, I’m the Devil’s spawn, I can’t be religious because the Bible supposedly disclaimed me. So, I would stay away and I would ignore anything that even mentioned Christianity. The church didn’t love me? I wouldn’t love it back. All I needed was God, period.

The same is still true, all I do need is God. I don’t need a church for it, I just need God. I think people have a hard time with that and it may even infringe on their beliefs-I’m not here to tear them down. I’m just here to state mine. I went to Grace and St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church because I wanted a place to go, to worship God in a house that was made just for that. It’s a beautiful church, built in the 1800′s with gothic architecture (you know, the arched door ways, the ornate, heavy wooden pews, the multitude of stained glass windows, bell towers, and more). In the months I’ve attended, my faith has been tested and built and rebuilt again and again and again. I wouldn’t say it was easy but it was worth it. I never liked the type of faith that was passive, that the believer wouldn’t allow to be challenged upon. I like the faith that is active and dynamic, constantly being challenged, being dragged in the mud and having to be rebuilt with new pieces and old pieces alike. In fact, there is a passage written by T.B. Laberge that says a limp believer’s soul in His hands saddens God. He goes to the ends of the Earth for us and when He finds us, limp and weak in our passivity, He is sad. He wants the believer to be fighting, to be screaming and weeping and yelling and jumping for joy. He wants us to be angry with Him and cry to Him and share our joys with Him.

Now I did say this was a story of how I found the father I always needed. I never found Him, I always had Him, but I did find the relationship I needed with Him. God is my Father, he is just like a Father and more. He is also my husband. This might be appalling to a lot of people, it was to me when I first found out. There is a tradition in the Catholic Church, where women can choose to be married to Christ. This is a vow not taken lightly, to choose this vow is to dedicate yourself above and beyond to be like Christ. You cannot divorce and there is even a wedding procession. Let me make this more clear-Jesus is the Bridegroom of the Church. The Church is not a building, it is the people. It is every man and women, every nonbinary and transgender folk, every disabled, gay, and more. We are the Church. Is it really then, so wrong to think of Christ as our husband?

I’ll leave you with this:

Jesus cried “It is finished!” so why don’t we? Why are we not living in that proclamation? Beloved, you are loved and set free, the veil is torn and you are allowed to go in Christ’s power to all the corners of this world. Do not let anything in this life keep you from remembering Jesus’ cry from the cross.- T.B. LaBerge // Go Now (via tblaberge)