It has been two years. I finally went back to church. Chose the same church I grew up in, where I was confirmed, where I spent half my life in junior high and high school. That was a l-o-n-g time ago! The church is a little different. There Is stained glass(free-form color design rather than drawn images) in the long windows on the east wall behind the altar; once those were clear louvers. The massive marble cross suspended above the altar is draped in purple for Lent. I don't remember what color the carpet used to be, but clearly what is there now is less than 50 years old! But the altar is still where it was placed in 1954, although the communion rail has been modified to bend around the altar rather than to separate it from the congregation. Thankfully, no one has tried to shape the graceful facility into a church-in-the-round -- something for which it was never intended.
What were once the church offices have become Sunday School space, and the offices have moved across the street to what we once called the Youth Center. I don't know what they call it now. The congregation is much smaller (we used to fill the church) and much older -- very few under retirement age. Once upon a time we could gather 30 or 40 teens for a youth group meeting, 50 or more for weekly worship.
Ooops. Started this post a couple of evenings ago, then got sidetracked and forgot it needed to be finished.
It felt good to be back in the familiarity of the liturgy, albeit with not-quite-familiar service music and two pieces sung in Hawaiian. Nobody was doing that even 40 years ago. I realized just how "high church" I have become after more than 30 years in the Diocese of San Joaquin. There, it's difficult to tell the difference between an Episcopal church (if you can still find one) and a Roman Catholic church. No room for Stations of the Cross and other high church acoutrements at Holy Nativity -- the side "walls" are all glass doors that can be open or shut as the weather demands. The only bell is the one that calls us to worship before the processional hymn. The acolytes wear waist-length cottas over their shorts, t-shirts and bare feet. The women of the choir could add the appropriate lei and be in full Daughters of Hawaii regalia -- long white muumuu, white sandals. Chalice bearers and readers do not vest. The priest wears sandals under his alb and forgoes the cincture. Nothing is disrespectful, just adapting to local conditions.
This was the first step. The Church has been an anchor most of my life, and this particular church laid the foundation. Will it once again become my church home? We'll see.
Give thanks for the people of Holy Nativity who reach out into their community. Don't forget to pray.