We carefully scrutinize words and actions, quick to judge and condemn. In a world of unlimited entitlement, we want a homogenous society where we all agree on everything and work to ridicule or eliminate those who disagree with today’s soapbox.
I enjoy that my church stands in contrast to the world. As Episcopalians, we honor serious dialogue, not to divide us but instead to unite us. There are many mysteries to God, most of which we will never understand as our human knowledge is limited. It is the journey together with God that unites us in examining these unknowns and delighting in God’s love.
In our worship service, we start the Holy Communion section with “The Great Thanksgiving”. Here we reaffirm our faith by first giving our hearts up to God. However, after the Sanctus (“Holy, Holy, Holy…”), we read instructions:
The people kneel or stand.
In my church, most people choose to kneel. It is only by convention though as I was reminded a few weeks ago when visitors from a sister congregation in Nashville joined us in worship and they stood. Their norm was different from ours, but certainly permitted and even encouraged by the direction in the prayer book. We didn’t ridicule them or forbid them from attending our church again. A very different approach from today’s world.
Whether to kneel or stand? Both are a form of reverence, yet also protest. Protest against an unfair world where God’s love does not show through from His kingdom to ours. Protest against those that still don’t get the message that Jesus’ command for us is to love our neighbor. All of them.
As I kneel in reverence or stand in prayer, we continue:
“Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself; and when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.”