Inside all of us is a voice that guides. This voice tells us when we’ve done wrong, and it pushes us towards what is right. We often call this voice the conscience. In some churches, we call it the Holy Spirit. To me, the conscience is the piece of the Divine that lives in all of us, the collective pull towards unity over division. If God is the name we give to that which is right and good in the universe, than the conscience is the part of that God that lives inside each breath of life.
I’m an Episcopalian, which is the noun used to describe a member of the Episcopal Church (FYI if you want to describe something of or relating to the Episcopal Church, the adjective form is Episcopal). My church has been around for about 230 years, and started after the American Revolution when members of the Church of England found they could no longer be a part of a denomination that required clergy to swear allegiance to the British monarchy.
As a descendant of the Church of England the Episcopal Church is part of the Anglican Communion, an international group of churches that share similar traditions and beliefs. Recently the leaders of the Communion suspended the Episcopal Church from voting. This was in response to our decision to start conducting same-gender marriages in all dioceses. This suspension is in effect until our next church-wide governing convention, but there’s no reason to believe we’d go back on our stance. As Jim Naughton said, “We can’t repent what is not sin.”
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is the season of fasting, and modern Christianity tends to take a broader look at Lenten fasting as being any form of discipline. This means that while some may choose to take something away (sugar, candy, alcohol, Facebook, etc), others may choose to take on something new (daily prayer/meditation, gratitude journaling, etc).
For the last several years my Lenten disciplines have been somewhat lacking, both in practice and in purpose. The idea with Lent is not to give something up for deprivation’s sake, but to make more space in your life for the divine. And I haven’t really had a good idea for that until now.
For the next 40 days and 6 Sundays (that’s your first fun church fact – Lent is 46 calendar days long) I will post one thing every day about my church, my spiritual life, or the Christian faith as I see it. I will do this publicly, which is what will make it hard. I come from a denomination that shies away from public pronouncements of faith. Episcopalians are not natural evangelists. Those who know me well may find my discomfort surprising because I tend to talk about my faith rather freely. Free does not mean easy however, and it is still difficult to be honest about my religion when I know so many of my friends don’t approve of it. Yet in recent months I’ve had several people approach me because they wanted to talk about faith with someone and didn’t feel comfortable doing so with others in their social group. So perhaps being obvious about my religion isn’t such a bad thing after all.
It can be difficult to make a case for Christianity when the loudest voices don’t represent my faith, and my faith doesn’t incline itself towards shouting. So this is me shouting. Every day. For forty (six) days.