We Episcopalians are people of faith. In our lives, individually and in community, we have evidence for important and hopeful possibilities. Because we are always seeking ways to better describe the evidence AND the possibilities to which the evidence points, we are believers.
We Episcopalians are part of a world-wide community of believers. We call ourselves Christians, because so much of what we believe is based on the evidence and the hope that we find in Jesus. We are also part of the whole of humanity, working out our spiritual wellbeing “with fear and trembling.” In a wonderful way all humanity seeks to live with hope in what sometimes seems a hopeless world.
When you enter an Episcopal Church you are likely to find all sorts of evidence of our believing – prayer books, bibles, crosses, stained glass likenesses of people and events, song books, kneeling rails, and on and on. All of these are evidence of what we believe. But, why do we believe?
Why we believe requires that we look deeper at the evidence for wanting to believe. Why we believe is to be found in you and in each of us.
The answer to why we believe is within you
Why we believe is both very simple, and very basic. Of course each of us expresses this in different ways. Here are a few answers. Perhaps some of these resonate with you and why you do, or want to, believe.
Why do we believe? Because we want to give thanks.
Gratitude, being thankful, is as simple as rising to a beautiful morning or going to bed satisfied with the work of the day. And, we have some interior desire to express that thankfulness and we have the strong feeling that something so good is not an accident, but the product of creation, of something given to us by a creator, to whom we can offer thanks. We take the evidence of the goodness of something in creation as a sign.
Why do we believe? Because we feel called to be loving and kind, creative and caring.
We live hoping that loving kindness is possible, but more importantly we believe we are meant to be loving and kind. We believe because we have a sense that we are called to live fully. If you have ever felt called or pushed to be a person of greater loving kindness, or a person of greater creativity or caring, you have a sense of why many of us believe. We believe because we sense that the creator has called us to join in re-creating the good and beautiful.
Why do we believe? Because we feel that there is a story about the whole of creation that has meaning.
We know our story, which we individually are born, live and die. There are as many personal narratives as there are people. Yet we have hints of another narrative, one in which we are part of an eternal activity, the unfolding of some purpose that is known fully only to the Creator. We believe because we see hints of that great purpose. Often we see this when we “get ourselves out of the way” and see beyond ourselves to the whole. And, we see hints of this larger narrative when we are thankful, or when we feel called.
WITHIN YOU IS THE COUNTRY OF BELIEVING.
Please know that in the Episcopal Church there are many reasons for believing, and these are paths that lead us, as a faithful people, to express our Thanksgiving, our search for loving kindness and our sense of eternal purpose in the particular ways we do.
Why you believe is because you live in a world, a “country” where the evidence for things unseen has guided you to want to tell the story of gratefulness, loving kindness and eternal purpose. The country of believing is open and free. You don’t need a passport to enter, and everyone is a citizen here.
We hope that in your search to express what you believe you will find The Episcopal Church to be a home away from home. For you are already in the country to which you are headed. Being here, you already live by faith. Hopefully, the Episcopal Church will be an instrument for your thankfulness, your loving kindness, and your reach for eternity. If so, we are blessed. And know, in all that pertains to belief and faith, you are already blessed.
Written by the Rev. Canon Mark Harris