Thursday, November 1, 2007

This Is My Story Part 3

I was at a place in my journey where I needed to go further. I was discovering many wonderful things, but I hadn't really shared it with anyone- not even my wife. I really didn't quite know how to articulate what I was thinking.

One of the things I was thinking was that I wanted to know how to implement my new-found discoveries into my own life, but also into the life of my church. We had already been observing weekly communion (something uncommon in the AG) just because that's what we saw in the Bible. We already emphasized knowledge of the Scriptures, relationship with Christ, power of the Holy Spirit, and holiness of living. What else did we need? The answer wasn't long in coming. We needed sacrament and liturgy.

Now trying to bring those two things into a Pentecostal church is asking for trouble. But I was too enamored with it all to really consider that. The problem was I didn't know how to go about it. I understood what the early Church was like, and I understood what we were like. But I didn't know how to bring the two together. I didn't know who to ask either. Pentecostals would think it strange that anyone was interested in these things and I was still convinced that Catholics were in a cult and couldn't be trusted.

About this time I found a new denomination on the internet called the Charismatic Episcopal Church. They were a newer, small denomination that held many things in common with the Catholic Church, but was not part of that Church. They were more of an Anglican persuasion with charismatic and evangelical elements as well. This really appealed to me because they sounded like they were exactly where I was.

I finally e-mailed one of their priests and began asking my questions. He answered promptly and was interested in helping me with the issues I was raising. That began a year and a half e-mail dialogue on an almost daily basis. I'm sure he didn't realize what he was getting himself into. But it was helping me fuse the two ideas, ancient and modern, together.

The more I began to investigate, the more I understood. I was also discovering that I really had a desire to be part of this denomination. I had met personally with the priest and even worshiped at the church where he pastored. Eventually, I met the bishop of the diocese and some others.

I had by this time told my wife what was going on in my head and my heart. It was hard for her. She had no idea. We had many prolonged "discussions". It was hard on both of us. She wasn't in the same place I was. She didn't agree with some of my perspectives. But eventually it became clear that we would need to make a move. I wasn't going to force her into joining me in any new church or denomination. I knew that would require some time of prayer and discernment for both of us. But I could no longer continue as pastor of the church where I was. I no longer held to everything I was required to believe to continue ministering in the Assemblies of God. It was with great sadness that we bid farewell to our precious little church family and moved into the unknown. For the first time in our married life, we were poles apart on a major decision. To my wife's credit, she submitted to the decision because she knew it was the right thing to do. No man could ever ask for a greater demonstration of love than she gave.

I didn't know where we were going. I was truly blind and in the dark. I wasn't very happy with what was happening, but I believed God was at work and I knew I had to trust Him.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

I recently presented a book called "Celebrate the Feasts" to a friend of mine in a Protestant Pentecostal church. These feasts are done in a ritualistic sort of way, and I felt they were a beautiful form of worship. You would have thought I had handed this fellow a snake. He said ritual was done away with with Christ's death. Where in Scripture would he have gotten that opinion?

Joni said...

You are being quite charitable to me, my dear. I felt I came along kicking and screaming!

Leaving our little church family was indeed one of the hardest things we have ever done. Still, it is sometimes the hard roads that lead us to the right road.

Jaybird said...

I'm enjoying the story Keith! Looking forward to what's coming next. Hi Joni!

Keith said...

Anonymous,

I can't really say where in Scripture it indicates that ritual was done away with. I think it's just assumed on the part of those who are used to "free church" style worship.

In Acts 2:42 it says the new believers devoted themselves to the apostle's teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayers. Most assume those are very informal things. But the original Greek reads more like "they devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the fellowship and to the breaking of bread and to the prayers." The repeated use of the word "the" indicates this was a specific action and not just whatever came along. In light of the Tradition of the Church we may logically insinuate that the teaching is the preaching/teaching time of Mass. The fellowship may be an informal thing, but it could also be the exchange of the Peace. The breaking of bread is certainly a reference to the Eucharist, and the prayers refers to particular times of liturgical prayer.

This is just one example of many to show that we are often reading the same Scriptures in very different ways.