Worshipping at St. Gregory the Great, Athens
Yesterday, I enjoyed worshipping with family at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church in Athens, Georgia. Yes, I was there with my mother and my wife. But that's not all I mean by family. I am trying to convey that in worshipping with that congregation, I felt at home.
There were things that were different from King of Peace. The music was a different mix of hymns and service music than typically found at King of Peace. And yet when their choir led an anthem by Rutter, it reminded me of our ensemble so beautifully singing another piece by Rutter a capella. No sense of competition and one being better. Just a sense of connection between the two groups and the way they led us in praising God.
The sermon was thoughtful and well delivered. While I trust that is not so different from King of Peace, I enjoyed the way the Rector, Beth Long, made a connection between Job and Bartimaeus and then moved to those of us in the congregation. It was a nice change for me to listen and reflect on the sermon.
At communion, the back row came up first and the ushers worked their way to the front row. Each group called up, would go stand in a circle around the altar for communion. But even with this difference, I noticied the similarity of seemingly distracted children taking commmunion with such seriousness and reverence, even if I did smile at the way one girl licked her lips after taking communion with real bread (we also use real bread at King of Peace).
Our worship spaces are different, but share a wooded setting, lots of natural light and simple lines. From the happy noise of a congregation greeting one another before the service, to the fairly late arriving crowd, to the energy of the children going out for their service and coming back in to nave later, there was also much that was the same. This was especially true of the words of the liturgy themselves as we confessed, repented and were offered absolution, gave one another the sign of peace and then continued speaking the story of our redemption, which had begun with the scripture readings and sermon, and then we continued to Christ's presence in bread and wine.
This is the familiar worship I have encountered again and again in Episcopal churches large and small and I am always amazed at how in different settings with different people, the feeling of being with family is what comes through the strongest. So I am thankful to that part of the Body of Christ, the family of God, worshipping at St. Gregory the Great in Athens, for welcoming us in and making us feel inwardly that which was already true, that we were at home. I pray others feel the same in visiting King of Peace.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor
Labels: Episcopal Churches