When I was a kid, I grew up in a small town in the smack dab center of Wisconsin. We went to a little church downtown called St. Marks, where I pretty much had a massive family watching more grow up, helping me along the way. When I was eleven, my mom decided she wanted to persue a career in the priesthood. Being an Episcopalian, that was ok, so you can go ahead and untie your panties. My mom is a woman priest. Priest. Not priestess (they only appear in Warcraft), mothers (a title that some choose to take, but not my mom), or sister (they are nuns). Now that that is clarified, we can move on. In short, after fifth grade, we packed up everything and left, hardly ever to return. I only went to St. Mark's about four times between the ages of eleven and forteen, for a funeral, a wedding, a special opening the new addition of the church, and for my mom's ordination.
I had not been there since mom's ordination, until this morning. Walking in was like walking into a room full of people that you recognize, but don't know if you remember them. There were neighbors, classmates, old Sunday school teachers, retired priests, including the three that baptised me, gave me my first communion, and will eventually preside over my wedding (not for a while). After the service, which, I'm not ashamed, left a tear in my eye, everyone filled the small fellowship hall for lunch.
And everyone knew my name, which is the thing that stresses me out the most. Fortunately for me, we do what Episcolpalians do best, which is socialize over food. The new priest at the church told us a joke:
A first grade teacher told her students, "Tomorrow, bring something that shows your faith for show and tell."
The next day, a little boy walks up to the front of the class and says, "I brought a rosery because I'm Roman Catholic."
A little girl walks up and says, "I brought the Star of David because I am Jewish."
More and more kids go up like that, and finally, the last boy in the class walks up to the front.
"I'm Episcopalian," he said, "and I brought a hotdish."
We don't often raise our hands in praise like those TimeLife praise commercials. No, we are a more reserved breed than that. We can hardly pray without writing it down first. No, how we come close as a community is through a slowbaked dish full of cheese, ham, onion, and potatoes (or a variety of things, mostly including cheese, ham, onion, and potatoes). However, Episcopalians are apparently not good at portions, as four hotdishes were supposed to feed over ninty, and Jesus did not show up to divide the fish and bread for us.
Luckily, it didn't really matter, as we still caught up, and I became "Monster No. 2" again, or get grappled into a bear hug from people I haven't seen in almost a decade, or remembering the whole church and everybody in it seemed much, much bigger all those years ago.