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A church-visit epiphany

This past Sunday was the Epiphany, the celebration of the incarnate Christ made manifest. It also happened to be the Sunday I decided to visit a congregation of the Metropolitan Community Church

The MCC is more theologically liberal than I am, so I braced myself for some hangups. But I also wanted to remain as open as possible to experiencing God in a different context. I’m glad I went.

The MCC service wasn’t meeting in the church building’s main sanctuary, and it took me a while to find it. Eventually, someone told me to ride the elevator to the third floor. I was surprised when the doors opened directly into the meeting room—by now, 10 minutes after the service started. The elevator’s ding and rattle were followed by the creaking of the old wooden floor as I walked across it in search of an open folding chair. This happened during an unamplified homily, not a raucous musical number.

I settled into my seat, red in the face and wishing I hadn’t come. Then I listened.

I listened to the Magi’s story, the star-led quest for the incarnate Christ. I listened to a personal story of redemption, a beautiful reminder that even Gentiles are chosen by God. And then I listened as the preacher invited all to partake of Christ’s redemptive, physical body in communion.

The preacher explained that serving communion was challenging for him because he tends to tremble—not from fear, but from nerve damage. He’s been living with HIV/AIDS for 21 years, almost as long as I’ve been living.

I believe this man, who dipped a gluten-free cracker into grape juice and placed it in my mouth before praying for me, understood the significance of the Incarnation better than anyone else who’s ever served me communion.

He didn’t ask the congregation to pray for divine healing. I’m sure he’s asked for healthy days and weeks, but the absence of an outright cure didn’t weigh down the ultimate optimism of his theology any more than it limited his hymnal to songs about the sweet by and by. He stood before us, carrying within his body the manifestation of his own incurable brokenness, and he declared with joy the wholeness and redemption made possible by the Epiphany.

That was the gospel as palpable as I’ve ever seen it; it was an epiphany for me.

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Thank You! My Brother in Christ

Steven,

I am so glad you came to that Epiphany service, and as the "broken" man who preached that Sunday and prayed with you during communion, I am so touched that you felt some measure of the joy I have found as a follower of Christ and in our astounding God.  You should know that while I happened to be preaching that Sunday, I am not an ordained minister.  I have the great privledge to belong to a church, aChurch4Me? MCC in Chicago, that firmly believes in the priesthood of all believers, and so I was graced to be allowed to give the reflection you heard.  MCC in general, and our Chicago church in particular, was founded as a safe haven for all to worship, question, explore, and most importantly live abunduntly in the life our Creator God has called us to.  God has shown me that we are all broken and wounded in some way and it is that very brokenness and woundedness that calls us to be wellsprings and manifestations of Christ's expressed love and healing in this very broken world.  We are called to bandage our own wounds as best we can and then go out into the world as wounded healers to minister to those who are even more wounded than we are.  It is only in that way, that we, in the truest sense of evangelism, can share the good news of Christ and participate in the building of the kingdom of heaven on earth that Jesus clearly told us is at hand and present if we will but only grasp it.  Again, I thank you for your kindness to myself and the church to which I belong and wish you many more epiphanies in your journey with our amazing God!   Peace & Prayers-Kevin O 

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