Twenty years ago Fred, Rudy, Heidi and I sailed the forty-foot boat we used to own west around the world from Vancouver to Turkey. The voyage took three years and we visited seventeen countries. People often ask which one was our favourite, and I never have an answer. Each country had its own beauty and way of doing things that was both inviting and challenging. No place was perfect. We received each country as it was, appreciated what was given and tried not to offend the locals.
I am reminded of that now that we have “dropped anchor” at St. Stephen the Martyr Church. I grew up United and Fred Catholic. After raising our children in the United Church, we spent over a decade in a Reformed church.
Now, in the land of Anglicans, we are encountering a new culture and language. I learned that “Table Eucharist” is having communion during a meal, “wardens” are kind of like head elders, the “sacristy” is where the priest and helpers keep their robes, and those helpers are called sacristans.
On Maundy Thursday, after Table Eucharist, we washed each other’s feet, stripped the altar and turned out the lights. On Good Friday, I walked the Stations of the Cross following children who carried it. On Holy Saturday, I was sprinkled with water to remember my baptism (after being forewarned to take off my glasses). On Easter morning, the church was resplendent with lilies, fresh flowers and alleluias.
I am enjoying this new land and its people. My senses have awakened and joined me in worship. I look forward to passing the peace to people of diverse ages, ethnicities and abilities. Sure, I’ve had to bite my tongue when things are not done the way I’d like, but I’m learning to go with the flow. After all, I’m not the captain of this ship; I’m what they call a parishioner.
Lord, I love the house where you live,
the place where your glory dwells.
— Psalm 26:8 (NIV)
Tieras and crew in Bora Bora, French Polynesia 1993