living liturgically (season one, episode eight, epiphany 2022)

I saw a meme on Facebook the other day that, in speaking of the wise men, said “once we meet Jesus, we all go home by another way.” It was quite profound to me then as it is now. Epiphany reminds me of the concept of seeking and finding. I grew up being told about Jesus, but I never really knew him until the first time I recieved a consecrated piece of bread and sip of wine, and realized I had consumed Jesus. I had suspected long ago that it might be Jesus himself, but I never fully realized it or truly met Jesus until that moment.

I was definitely seeking Jesus at the time, and I hadn’t been able to find him in evangelical or fundamentalist churches at all, and so I was drawn to new things. My coming to the Episcopal Church where I first consumed Jesus came about in small, interesting ways. I had begun to feel a pull towards liturgy, I had had God come to me and impress upon me that although I was taught not to do this, that my small children needed to be baptized as soon as possible. I also did a research project for an undergrad communications topic where I tried to see if there were correlations between a person’s learning style and their worship style (spoiler: I didn’t find any such correlation in my research. It doesn’t mean there isn’t one, but it means I didn’t find one).

For my communications topic, I began asking questions about why supposedly Christian churches all worshipped in such different ways. Thus began my quest of exploring the value of liturgical worship. My favorite day of the church year is Ash Wednesday. It’s significant because Ash Wednesday is what initially got me looking in the right direction. I craved the ashes at the beginning of Lent, I had also made an attempt to observe Lent for two years, being mocked the whole time because “we are evangelicals and we don’t do Lent.” I decided that perhaps I should explore it by experiencing it. However, Ash Wednesday was not the day I showed up in the church. I didn’t make it there until All Saints.

Another thing that happened during my exploration is that I went online looking for a book of prayers, so that I could teach my children some already written prayers. I bought The Book of Common Prayer on Amazon, and when I got it, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted and so I put it on the table beside my recliner so I’d remember to send it back. The book never made it back. I was snuggling with my disabled son one morning around 2:00 AM, when normal people are asleep, and I randomly picked up the book and flipped through it. I realized that what I was seeing was beautiful, and I wanted it. I decided I just had to try the Episcopal Church. So I walked into an Episcopal Church in Louisiana on All Saints one year, went to the altar because I was invited to, knelt, and received Jesus.

I still seek Jesus now, even though I’m walking with him. I seek to get closer to him, I seek to know him better, I seek him after I wander off. Like the mystery The Finding of Jesus in the Temple that is prayed on the rosary shows, it’s important to keep finding Jesus even with an already established relationship with him. I seek him every time I open the Bible to read, every time I pray, every time I go to church, or make a confession, or actively ground myself and observe creation. Since I’ve met Jesus, I go home a different way.

Published by MaryClare StFrancis

MaryClare StFrancis is a writer who sounds as boring as hell but who is intimately acquainted with the horrific and the sacred. For a long time, darkness has been her friend, but she now walks in the light of Christ. As a committed Episcopalian, her main contribution to the church is her ability to make the priests facepalm or swear, depending on the day and context. MaryClare has a Master of Arts in English and Creative Writing and lives in Mississippi with her four children.

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