You don't have to signal a social conscience by looking like a frump. Lace knickers won't hasten the holocaust, you can ban the bomb in a feather boa just as well as without, and a mild interest in the length of hemlines doesn't necessarily disqualify you from reading Das Kapital and agreeing with every word. --Elizabeth Bibesco

Saturday, December 29, 2012

My Religious Bucket List in Chicago, Part 1: Chicago Community Mennonite Church

I know this isn't modesty related, but I wanted to talk about the religious adventure --you might call it a pilgrimage-- I'm going on. So the story is this: my Woman and I have found ourselves at home in the city of Chicago, but finding a church-home has been more of a struggle. Perhaps it's just that following up St. Clare of Assisi and Canterbury House in Ann Arbor, Michigan is impossible. We've roamed from the church where I converted in high school (which has since changed quite a bit) to a lovely high church Anglo-Catholic parish full of gay men. There are many wonderful aspects to both, but I think my Woman and I are both feeling a little listless in our walk with God-- the "spark" in the relationship feels like it's gone, if you know what I mean. Neither of us had been to church in a month when we showed up at a Longest Night service at the Chicago Community Mennonite Church.

Now, I'm fairly certain the CCMC is the only Anabaptist church I've ever been to-- and it's certainly the only non-liturgical church I've been to-- but since this was my second time at their yearly Longest Night service, I knew I wasn't going to hate it. (That's an understatement-- the first time, my Woman and I were so caught up in the service that we went caroling with them to a nursing home afterwards.)

The building (which the share with the First Church of the Brethren) is beautiful and very Chicago-- a beautiful stained-glass window looking out on a highway in a quiet neighborhood once called "so dangerous you shouldn't even go there on google maps." The people we met there were very nice without being pushy. The liturgy was a little bit from column A, a little bit from column B, you might say. They hit some great Christmassy/Advent hymns that were appropriate without being so jarringly joyful like "It came upon a midnight clear." We sang a Taize hymn as a response to a prayer. At the end, they brought it home for me with a prayer from the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer (maybe it's also elsewhere, but that's where I know it from) that goes like this:

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who
sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless
the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the
joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

After our success with the Mennonites -- as I've been calling them because the Mennonites impressed upon me how important community is on our faith walk-- my Woman and I set out to visit my religious bucket list in the city. We've been to 2 since and are heading to another one tomorrow. I'll let you know how it goes!