This upcoming month will mark the fourth anniversary of my tumultuous entrenchment in the ecumenical costume party known as the Anglican Church. Our relationship has been a bit quarrelsome at times, but it seems we have finally settled into a state of amicable acceptance.
I enjoy the thinly veiled Catholicism, the man-dresses, and the free wine tastings. The Church is thankful to have plucked me – a potential papist – away from the Romans. That being said, there are certain aspects of the Anglo’s weekly fellowship that have become rather irksome to me and are threatening to upset the delicate symbiosis we have created. While I don’t pretend to understand all the things that go on in the spaces between The Archbishop’s pointy hat and carpet-like beard, I can’t help but think that a few simple changes will make a world of difference in the Anglican experience and, more importantly, my enjoyment of said experience.
First off, this whole “passing the peace” business. I’ve been doing it for four years and I still don’t understand it. What happened to a simple, All-American, “greetings neighbor, how the hell are ya?” Instead a nearby parishioner will turn to me, shake my hand firmly, and give me a peace of Christ, or something of that nature. So as not to risk excommunication, I always respond in kind, and we both go our separate ways with our separate peaces of Christ without knowing so much as the other person’s name. I’ve been given peaces of Christ by just about everyone in the congregation but I have yet to “meet” a single one of them. This is silly. Henceforth, lets just say “hi” or – if it would make the Brits more comfortable – “cheerio” or whatever it is people in the Motherland say to each other. Lets save the pieces of Christ for Eucharist.
Secondly, why must we bring the squirming, shrieking nymphs of our species into the service before Communion starts?These kids can hardly comprehend that it is their own foot that they are gnawing on, how could they possibly understand that the juice and crackers mommy and daddy are eating are actually the body and blood of the omnipotent Lord of all creation?
I recognize that the Anglican Church believes that the mere presence of the Eucharist – understood or not – can imbue these babies with magical powers; potentially transforming them into benevolent wizards. Unfortunately, the only magic these slobbering little gremlins are capable of is irretrievably distracting me from anything happening at the alter. We have a fantastic nursery. It is staffed with nurturing, non-predatory grown-ups. Let them keep the kids. If I want to watch an infant devour the contents of his mother’s purse or stare daggers into my soul with his huge, innocent eyes, I’ll open a day care. Until then, I’d prefer to see them after the service, not in it.
These are my primary concerns. By no means are they the only ones (don’t even get me started on the “singing” of the Lord’s Prayer), but fixing these two will go a long way in ensuring that our ecclesial union will continue comfortably. The Anglicans got a good thing going. I don’t really want to go to a different church. By all accounts, Henry VIII was a bang up guy, and I’d like to help perpetuate his legacy. I’ve just had all the peace and babies I can handle.