Sunday, December 10, 2006

An Advent Search: Part II

NOTE: Last week, I blogged about attending Saint Thomas’ Episcopal Church but was called out by several friends (and rightly so!) for talking more about architecture and less about orthodoxy. I have returned to that blog and made the appropriate revisions and hope I struck a better balance in this week's post about Grace Church.

This Sunday, I (Stephanie was in Florida, reveling in a night-time shuttle launch) attended Grace Church in my continuing advent search for a house of worship in New York City.

Grace Church, a Gothic Revival masterpiece and National Historic Landmark, was designed by James Renwick, Jr., who, at 23, was just beginning his career. He would later go on to design St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the Smithsonian Institution castle. Grace Church was consecrated in 1846.

Grace Church, New York City reminded me very much of Grace Church, Colorado Springs where I was first introduced to Anglicanism and attended before moving here. Both the interior architecture and the liturgy was eerily and therefore comfortingly similar.

Other than that, the first thing I was struck by was how few people attended. Only about fifty people or so. And I guess that was considered a large crowd as the Rector seemed to suggest as much from the pulpit. Perhaps just as surprising was the demographics of the crowd. While one might expect an aging congregation, this was comprised mainly of young couples and lots of radiant children.

The Rector’s sermon was quite good. He began by addressing acting (the church is located on Broadway, after all!) and how actors inhabit the characters they play, let the role take over, get their own personalities and desires out of the way, and stay in character no matter what happens during the performance. It is the same, he said, with the performance of life. Christ inhabits us and we must let Him rule over our passions and no matter what life throws at us, we must "stay in character."

One of the more pleasant things about the service was the administration of the Eucharist. Since there were so few people in attendance, we were all invited to surround the altar in a semi-circle throughout the entire ceremony, not simply come to the front for the administration of communion itself. It was a lovely atmosphere of fellowship and very intimate. It is in the communion of fellowship, the gathering together of the saints in one worshipful voice, that I truly find meaning in the physical act of attending church.


Anonymous Calvin said...

Most beautiful. The analogy of actors used by the rector reveals a keen sense for spiritual formation in Christ. I vote for him and the building. Where Christ is lifted up, there is life. May the Lord continue to guide your journey my dear friend.

12:07 PM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Here's something unique that I forgot to mention. One of the readings was from the Book of Baruch--while one of the more "accepted" apocryphal books, I have never before heard one read in a Protestant church before.

12:56 PM  
Blogger Justin said...

Heya. Re Baruch:

The official Anglican position, for those interested (The 39 Articles), is this:

And the other Books (as Hierome saith) the Church doth read for example of life and instruction of manners; but yet doth it not apply them to establish any doctrine; such are these following:

The Third Book of Esdras
The Fourth Book of Esdras
The Book of Tobias
The Book of Judith
The rest of the Book of Esther
The Book of Wisdom
Jesus the Son of Sirach
Baruch the Prophet
The Song of the Three Children
The Story of Susanna
Of Bel and the Dragon
The Prayer of Manasses
The First Book of Maccabees
The Second Book of Maccabees


10:14 AM  

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