Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Unsolicited church plug

The other good thing that my friend and I did last weekend, was worship at St. Bartholomew’s, Livermore. We were both taking breaks from our home churches (and she from her diocese). She’d been to St. Bart’s and I hadn’t; she knew it would be a good alternative.

It was. My friend introduced me to the rector, at the Peace. Carol (who reminds me very much of Julia Child in vestments) wore green Crocs, that matched her stole. She joked with me about how, if she’d known she had a third-year seminarian, she wouldn’t have praised academia so highly in her sermon. I told her I’d enjoyed it (which I had).

The building is structured in the round. Friend and I were sitting in the front, kitty-corner from the altar. Carol came over to us at the offertory and asked me if I’d like to carry a chalice. Surprised and delighted, I said yes. Of course a seminarian can carry the cup—but I’d never been invited, barely-met, to do it. (I had to be licensed, to bear the chalice regularly at home.) This struck me as incredibly welcoming.

Their liturgy had elements from the New Zealand prayer book, and was very similar to what I’m used to at St. A’s. It was enough like home to feel liturgically comfortable—but it was out of the city, away from the whole seminarian trip. The rector knew who I was, but I was also anonymous. And I don’t know the community, but they feel like a safe, nurturing refuge. (When I said that to Carol, she got it. They’re warm, in an easygoing way.)

Go there, to worship, or just to see the Stations of the Cross, if you can. There’s no text—there doesn’t need to be. They’re wood carvings, all involving hands in some position (holding the cross, hiding a face). Incredibly evocative. A member of the community carved them; his wife came and talked to us, as we were circling around.

I love my community. My home is very focused on being welcoming, and we do it well. But if I need a break, where I already know I’ll feel comfortable, this is an option that’s open to me. And to you, if you’re in the area. Go.


Mimi said...

It's nice to have a good place to visit!

Plus, I have a soft spot for St. Bartholomew.

Kirstin said...

You would. :-)

How is X, these days?

Paul said...

Kirstin, glad you had a good experience at St Bart's. There are treasures scattered about the diocese. Thanks for blogrolling me.

Kirstin said...

Paul, my pleasure. And likewise. :-)

Can I hit you up for internship suggestions?