The ancient church used the season of Lent as a time to prepare unchurched people for their new life in Christ. If you were writing the curriculum for the catechumen, what are some things you would include that you feel are essential to your life as a Christian?
I spent most of my adult life overseas, often a wilderness simply for the lack of organized religion. Finding a refuge in these wildernesses has been developing faith families to fill the void. My reflections during Lent is how I was able to find faith families in places where I lived.
The foundation of my faith is family based which comes in all sizes, color and denomination. As a child I was raised in a family in where church was a center of our lives. We went to church together, prayed as a family before every meal, mother read “Little Visits with God” after dinner every night and we prayed together before going to sleep always ending with the Lord’s Prayer. My parents were one of the founding families of the small Lutheran church we attended and I consider the two girls that I attended Sunday School my best friends to this day. This is the foundation of my faith today.
As an adult I have spent most of my life overseas in developed as well as underdeveloped countries. I have always been able to join or develop a faith group to worship and socialize with as a member of the family. In Yemen I join a group from the Embassy to a well attend catholic services at the German Farm. This was the only English services in town and was attended by several different denominations and nationalities lead by both a French and an American priest with an Altar Guild of Sister Theresa’s nuns. In Bolivia the non-denominational protestant church would ask the American missionary Catholic priest to lead services between his Spanish masses when there was no minister. This community was strong in Bible study and family dinners as part of Christian life and Father Jaime (the Catholic priest) was always included. In Quito I attended a Lutheran church support by the German government for German speaking Lutherans but he also had to speak English to offer services to English speaking Lutherans twice a month. Quito also had a Spanish speaking Episcopal Seminary with an English-speaking priest. He asked if he couldn’t preach to the Episcopal English community on the Sundays when the Lutherans weren’t preaching. This joint congregation of Lutherans and Episcopalians became strong group of individuals who enjoyed the liturgy of the services, Bible study and sharing food together. Mexico City was example where the English protestant community worship together at the English-speaking Episcopal church. Once again, an American missionary priest who was teaching at the Spanish-speaking Episcopal Seminar was the parish priest. Funny enough my family there was the choir - I am no singer but they needed someone who was enthusiastic about singing with a little group of singers. In Paris I attended the American Cathedral build by Americans who left the US following the Civil War. This again was a congregation of many nationalities from Africa, Europe and Asia and was my support system outside of work. In London I attended my neighborhood parish church within walking distance of my home. I became very close with a fellow parishioner as we walk home from church together.
When I moved to San Gabriel my niece told me I would like the Church of Our Saviour as it had an history of outreach, deep roots into the community and people of strong faith. My nephew attended A Child’s Garden School and his parents were very impressed with the values and lessons he learned. The first time I stepped into the church I knew I had found my spiritual home. Though not necessary welcome with open arms the first few services I started to attend events where people notice me and asked me to join church activities. Today I can’t imagine worshiping at any other church or with any other faith family.
I share my Christian faith journey because you can always find a faith-based family where ever you live or go. These families include many different nationalities, denominations, and people who are different from you but all share a commitment to as well as a faith in Our Risen Lord who the Father sent to save our sins. It may not always easily to navigate a faith-based community that meets your needs but a faith family should always be based on the need for prayer, Bible study and supporting each other through the good and dark days in the lives of our Christians. I know that I would not have survived the separation and isolation the many years I lived overseas without my families of faith at the churches I attended.
COLLECT OF THE DAY
Give ear to our prayers, O Lord, and direct the way of your servants in safety under your protection, that, amid all the changes of our earthly pilgrimage, we may be guarded by your mighty aid; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen..
LISTEN TO "SOMETIMES YOU CAN'T MAKE IT ON YOUR OWN"
Click link below to U2's song "Sometimes You Can't Make It on Your Own."
Click on the link below to read the blog "Together" by Danae Ashley.