I go to church a good deal and confess that I like it. This is amazing for a child who was rigidly transported to church every Sunday and Wednesday. In fact I can remember how special it was to be able to stay home on Sunday or Wednesday night and watch TV.
I have asked myself why I like church better now, and I am sure that it is my discovery of the Episcopal Church where I found a home the minute I sat through my first Rite II service. Oh my goodness, the sites, the sounds, the reverence, the ribbons in the prayer book and, most of all, the altar. Not just any altar. An altar set with beauty in a frontal of the particular color of the season. It was white at the time I arrived since I came to the church during the Season of Easter, and moments after my arrival came the Feast of Pentecost with its glorious red. At last I found a color coded church. But seriously, I discovered the liturgical, official visual recognition of sacred time, and church would never be the same for me again.
I believe that the use of color to designate the seasons is a lovely thing, and it seems that I am not the only cradle Baptist to think so. I am amazed to report that I have begun to notice even Baptist churches in the deep South with crosses draped in purple during Lent. What that tells me is that people must be hungry for visions of faith, tradition and the observance of sacred time. It tells me that we and our visitors might be better served by preservation of our liturgical traditions and meaningful education about our customs rather than diminishing our use of them.
Do any of you remember your first impression of your church? Have any of you seen liturgical images creeping into more protestant churches?
By Jan Neal