Stuff Episcopalians Like #3- Passing the Peace


Stuff Episcopalians Like #3- Having Opinions on the Best Way to Pass the Peace

Then the Ministers and People may greet one another in the name of the Lord. – Book of Common Prayer

What follows is as varied as Episcopalians themselves. (that’s very varied, in case you weren’t familiar) Some of the more proper churches take at most 20 seconds to shake hands with only those within one step and an arms reach. Some churches use this as an intermission-type break for everyone to hug everyone and catch up on their weeks. Most churches fall somewhere in between. 

I’ve seen shirts made that said “Are you a hugger or a shaker?” referring to this time in the service.  Some people find hugging a little invasive to their personal space, but, for the record, hugging is more sanitary than shaking hands. If you only knew half the things people do with their hands. (Don’t think about that too much)  If you’re looking for a compromise, might I recommend a fist bump, including a good explosion, a la Michael Scott. Or start buying Purell in bulk. 

When I lived in South Africa and attended church at the Anglican Cathedral, there was a 90-year-old nun who would always use the peace to kiss people square on the lips. She was like a pious version of Richard Dawson, the 70’s host of Family Feud that kissed every single female contestant. As endearing as it was, I think this particular nun was the only person on the planet that could get away with it. In other words, if you see me on Sunday morning, please don’t pucker up. 

But no matter what you do, the sentiment is still the same: Peace be with you. A reminder that by just reaching out your hand, you can meet good company on the road of faith.

I feel lucky that I live in an era where I can look at this and say, “Ewwwe!”

Stuff Episcopalians Like #2: Episcopal Shield Bumper Stickers


Episcopal Shield Bumper Stickers.

Episcopalians by no means invented the idea of decorating your car with your theology. But we did make it our own. And because it’s hard to fit the catechism on a bumper sticker, we made do with our Episcopal shield. Maybe not as innovative as Apple’s apple, but one of a kind, nonetheless.

Now, I come from a parish that is particularly fond of these little adhesive shields. You can buy them for a whole dollar, in case you’re afraid your baptism only figuratively marked you as Christ’s own forever, this can literally mark you. Because we’re the only Episcopal church in town, it can be fun to see a shield and figure out who it is, because you probably know them. Especially if it’s in the liquor store parking lot.

This is on my car. Horribly faded, the shield, in case you’re not familiar with it, should actually look like this:

The shield has a neat history that you can read about here. Learning about the shield is a mini-lesson in the history of the Episcopal Church.

It’s hard to overstate the joy that comes from barreling down the interstate far away from home and recognizing a fellow Episcopalian. Mildly dangerous, it can be fun to try and drive by them at the same speed, waving as if to say “We would be best friends if we lived near each other!”**Please don’t actually try this.

I can only hope that the pride that makes us devalue our car a tad is a good kind of pride — the kind that says, “I find joy here. You can ask me about that.” Not the bad kind of pride that makes Charlie Sheen blush. So if you’re sporting this nifty little shield, be mindful of that. The least you can do is use your turn signal.

Why do you like your church bumper stickers? 

Stuff Episcopalians Like #1


Welcome to the first installment of Stuff Episcopalians Like. You might have heard of Stuff White People Like or it’s spin-off Stuff Christians Like. Plus I was reading Rachel Held Evans blog about ways to make Arminians cool and one was to start a “Stuff Arminians Like” page, and I don’t even know who Arminius was. However, here I’ll put on my amateur anthropologist hat and look at the habits and idiosyncrasies that tend to be so prevalent in our tradition. 

Today’s Stuff Episcopalians Like:
Holy Week Lunches

I used this one because today when I arrived at work and went to the kitchen to get the first of many cups of coffee, I found the kitchen crowded with women warming their casseroles and rolls and mixing their salads. And the parish hall is decked out with white linens and modest centerpieces:

The idea is simple: We have a downtown church and a lot of professionals work downtown and just have an hour for lunch break. For nothing but their presence, they get a contemplative worship service and a hearty lunch. Now in my downtown, we share this duty with the other downtown churches on different days of the week so maybe I should more accurately title this one “Stuff Mainline Denominations Like”

I know a guy who used to be a lawyer in Birmingham, Alabama. One day for his lunch break, he attended one of these lunches and services at the Episcopal Cathedral Church of the Advent, felt moved, yada yada yada, today he is an ordained priest serving as a missionary in Namibia. True story.

In fact if you’re interested in the recipes that could spiritual seduce someone so well, you can read an article in Southern Living about this particular Birmingham Cathedral’s tradition.

Next week on Stuff Episcopalians Like: Episcopal shield bumper stickers