Our family has a Christmas tradition of visiting "other" churches on Christmas Eve to observe their traditions and worship styles. It has been a very enriching experience over the years, and quite eye-opening when I was a young Mormon girl being taught that my church was the only true church.
I am not religious anymore, but the tradition still stands. This past Christmas, I wanted to be sure and visit a church that leaned more toward acceptance, inclusion, and even blessing of gays and lesbians. I attend the Unitarian Church occasionally during the year, and they certainly are inclusive, but sometimes I truly crave the words and hymns of the devout: the people who are not afraid to say Jesus in their hymns. So we (myself, my Father, and my youngest sister) went to the Episcopal Church this year. It was quite beautiful: the hymns were fast-paced and exhilirating (not like the slow LDS hymns of my youth). The sermon, given by the Right Reverend Carolyn Tanner Irish, was thoughtful, inspiring, and uplifting.
But I am still not religious. This weekend, I visited my sister in San Diego. She has labeled herself agnostic for several years now. I didn't know how to feel about this, because I don't know how I feel myself. But this weekend she told me that she believes there must be a God, though not the God of our youth or the one we were told to believe in. There are too many things in her life, she says, that are good and happen for no other reason. I was glad to hear it: of anyone I know, she is the one that most needs a center to ground all her amazing energy and drive.
But what of me and my center? I have been watching the laboring of the Episcopal Church in regard to Gays and Lesbians, hoping that I might find a place where I can go to investigate my Christianity while being fully accepted and loved for who I am. I was disappointed with the national church's leaning away from full inclusion of GLBT people.
But Rev. Irish has been a bastian of tolerance in a state where little is to be found. She and other open-minded supporters have proved to be little islands to which my sanity can cling when I think I have chosen to live in a state where who I am is not only not okay, but downright wrong. It is especially relieving to see this fair-mindedness after the dark days of the Utah Legislature.
Thank you, Reverend....and God Bless You.