In my late 20’s I left the Roman Catholic Church. I suppose I questioned many things about the Catholic Church, but on a deeper level still, I found I could not abide the idea that people would be excluded from receiving communion , because they are divorced, or have not gone to confession, or did not believe correctly, or are not members. Upon my leave taking I remember asking the Rector, “How did we ever wander so far from the Gospel?” Because that is how it felt to me. I could not abide. Interestingly, after I left I was not looking for another church. It didn't really occur to me to look for a different church.
About three years later I was having lunch with a group of friends, at Little Angie’s Restaurant in Canal Park, Duluth, Minnesota, on a sunny day, warm enough to sit outside on the patio. Somewhere along the way the conversation migrated from politics to religion. Then Tina’s friend John said to me, “You should come to my church. I think you would find a different experience there.” I’m a little surprised I took him up on this.
The next Sunday I attended St Paul’s Episcopal Church in Duluth, MN. At the invitation to Holy Communion, the priest said, “this is Christ’s table, therefore all are welcome.” That had a certain shock value for me, and the rest is history, as they say.
The reason I share this story with you is because I would like for you to think about inviting someone to St. Luke’s. The reality is that most people do not by themselves look for a church; they are in fact invited by a friend or neighbor. This does not have to be a scary proselytizing process. Nor an affirmation of what is right, or correct about your religious position. Instead think of it as inviting someone to the party! It is best if this invitation happens in the normal course of a conversation, rather than something you spring on someone. Begin by thinking about what you love about St Luke’s… Maybe you love the music, or the unique preaching, or the children’s programs, or like me the children themselves. Maybe what you appreciate is all of the different outreach efforts (- too many to keep track of -). Or what you love is being inspired to be your best self, or a sense of belonging to something greater than yourself, and being a part of a community. Perhaps most of all you love the friendships you have here.
In our culture it can be very difficult to find community, I assure you, there are people waiting to be invited; People who are longing to belong to a community such as this. The Easter season is a wonderful time to invite someone to hear the hope filled story of the Resurrection, and the Acts of the Apostles, in which we hear of the amazing things that transpired in the early church.
What a gift we have received in this faith community we call St Luke’s Memorial Episcopal Church! Every day I think about how blessed I am to be here. So are you! Who else might share this blessing with us? (Fill in the blanks)
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