by Diane Thrush
All my adult life has been about integrating my spiritual ancestry. On my mother’s side I inherited Anglican roots that go back hundreds of years to England. On my father’s side are Baptist roots that date back hundreds of years to its origins in Europe.
While I was raised in the richness of the Episcopal Church, family gatherings with the Baptist Woodring clan always included worship and robust singing of the old Gospel favorites.
As I grew into my adult years I always thought I had to choose one denomination or the other, one way or the other of living out my faith. I didn’t understand that as an adult I could be “both/and.”
It has been a long journey to an integration of these roots. These days I am likely to have Anglican chant and Ralph Vaughan Williams alongside “Blessed Assurance” on my playlist.
When my brother died in 2002, we gathered for his funeral. My brother was Anglo Catholic to the fullest, and his funeral was a Solemn High Eucharist that reflected all that he loved.
Yet, during the service I was uncomfortable wondering what my Baptist cousins were thinking about this service that was so different from their practice. When we went up for communion, I looked around the railing to see my family gathered, all of them, the Anglicans and the Baptists. I was overwhelmed with the realization that this was what the Kingdom of God was like – all of God’s children gathered at the Banquet. What branch of Christ’s body didn’t matter as we gathered to receive Him. At the table we were one.
Later, my Baptist family told me how beautiful the service was. They said they didn’t understand all that was going on, but they knew Gary would have loved it and that was what mattered to them. What a grace-filled attitude!
This last August I was reminded of this as we gathered once again around that same railing to receive the Body and Blood of Christ at my mother’s funeral. Before the service I shared with my cousins about my experience of seeing the Kingdom of God, and I know as we looked around that day, we were experiencing the Kingdom again.
About the author: Diane Thrush is a chaplain at Methodist Children’s Hospital in San Antonio and a member of St. Luke’s, San Antonio. Reach her at diane.thrush@MHShealth.com