If you ever have a couple of hours and nothing better to do, ask me what denomination I am. And then, wait five minutes, and it’ll change again.
I have identified as a Quaker—the Religious Society of Friends—for a long time now. I remember going on to BeliefNet and answering some pointed questions regarding… what else… my beliefs, and was specifically looking for a group that would not subject me to Christmas and Easter. The word was that Quakers held every day alike. After some research about their non-creeds and silent meetings, I looked up a nearby meeting and was gathered with them.
Well, the stuff about Christmas and Easter wasn’t exactly true; this particular meeting, while it definitely had Christmas and Easter in a decidedly Quaker, unadorned fashion, still observed those days. And while the silence was at first challenging (ask any Buddhist about the monkey mind) it wasn’t as challenging as a Meeting for the Purpose of Business. The Religious Society of Friends runs on consensus and that’s sometimes really maddeningly hard to come by.
I could start at the beginning and give you a long list of church “begats,” but suffice it to say that I’ve covered most of the major Protestant denominations along with side trips to high church, non-denom, inter-denom, Buddhist, and even New Age. Oddly enough, given my Santa/Bunny aversion criteria, I never ventured into Judaism. Sorry.
Along the way I’ve learned about simplicity and the worshipfulness of silence from Friends, liturgy and ritual as pathways to worshipful feelings from the high churches, modesty and religious-observant dress from Conservative Quakers. I’ve loved the depictions of Christ in the art of the Latter Day Saints. From “mainline” churches, I learned apologetics and also that little “Gentiles Eat Pork Chops” way to find Paul’s letters to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. I’ve had to overcome a bit of reticence in the non-denom worship whose worship vigor was much less aligned with my personality than silence but, ya know. I really appreciated Mary Baker Eddy’s (seemingly) unwavering faith and the way she wrote about Christ in her “textbook” Science and Health, which is also laid out with consistent pages and line numbering that I really, REALLY like. Eddy also instituted the idea of the book being the pastor of the congregation instead of any human leader. Moving back further, I can remember asking my mother at a very young age if I could be a nun (because my bestie was a Catholic); her answer made me think Catholicism was a gene I didn’t get but I still love the idea of nuns wedded to Christ and the engaging pageantry and the stained glass.
Recently I’ve been investigating Messianic congregations through their Web sites and YouTubes, drawn by a presentation on headcovering given by a young lady (asisterofchrist) who is apparently in that. I liked what she said and how she said it so I watched another of her videos—this one about Yom Teruah in which she offered about the Hebraic betrothal process and how it relates to words of Christ (“Behold, I stand at the door and knock….” and “I go to prepare a place for you in my Father’s house….”). I’ve read the Bible through a few times but those things had never taken on the life she gave it. Thus, my curiosity piqued, I ventured on through more Web sites and things about the Messianics. What I’m taking away from that is the rich Hebrew texture that embroiders the entire Bible text.
Okay, so now I have this pile of pieces of varying shapes, colors and fibers. In my next post I’ll start laying them out to see if I can arrange a pleasing pattern or if this is just gonna be one of those “crazy quilts” where there is no geometric or other design, but the effect is just as nice.