This week’s Acts 8 BLOGFORCE Challenge is seeking out the stories of how you came to be a Christian and an Episcopalian. The fun, or perhaps quirky, twist being that the 120 word abstract should sound like a superhero origin story. You can find out more by clicking the link at the bottom of this post. Without any further ado, I offer you my origin story.
I was a senior in High School and it was Young Life Banquet time. My YL leader, Flecth, had asked several of us to share our testimonies at the tables of some of YL Lancaster’s biggest donors. I remember feeling some strange mixture of trepidation and relief as I prepared my story. I was terrified because my story of how God found me is pretty boring. I was relieved because I didn’t have to tell my friends’ parents and my parents’ friends about the day I woke up in the middle of a corn field with a needle sticking out of my arm and saw Jesus standing in front of me. I feel a similar strange mixture today.
I grew up as the quintessential first child. To this day, I am a ruler follower ad nauseam. When I was 16, I spent three weeks in Germany with my high school German class. There is no legal drinking age in Germany, but I still only drank once while I was there, and I still feel guilty about it. The Church and the moral life to which she calls us has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. After the youth group at Saint Thomas crashed and burned as I entered into high school, I spent several years bouncing between the CMA church’s youth group and Young Life. I remember pulling my Saturn over on Manheim Pike one Friday morning to write down the date and time I had invited Jesus into my life, but the truth is, he had always been there.
My entrance into The Episcopal Church happened when I was three years old. My dad had been transferred from R.R. Donnelly’s home base in Chicago, IL to a brand new plant built to produce TV Guides in scenic Lancaster, PA. As the story goes, the Realtor my parents used to find a new house was a saintly woman named Jeanne Ritter. After selling them the perfect house for a family with two small children, Jeanne said something like, “I go to Saint Thomas’ Episcopal Church. You should try it out.” They tried it out, and it stuck.
Though I attended an Episcopal Church with my family from early on, I didn’t really understand what it meant to be an Episcopalian, to be imbued with the rhythm of life and the words of the Book of Common Prayer really until I entered the discernment process. It was there that I learned what all those words I could say by heart: from the opening acclamation to the dismissal; really meant. I guess that’s why I have such a passion for liturgics, Church history, and general church-nerdery these days. I want everyone to know how these words that seem rote to the outside observer can be living, active, and offer so much more than the rules and guilt that are so often associated with Christianity.
My origin story doesn’t have superhero qualities to it, but I’ve come to realize that that’s OK. God enters our lives in all sorts of different ways, but most often, it is by way of a simple invitation. Thanks be to God.