In so many ways Anglicanism has ruined me. When we were in college and newly in love, Spencer and I tried our best to find a church together. It was a tumultuous time to be Episcopalian, and my home church was in the midst of a split. There was no Anglican church where we lived, so we tried everything, and I mean everything else.
Nothing felt like home. Spencer was raised Baptist, so he didn’t have nearly as many qualifiers as me, whether they be conscious or unconscious. I’m here to tell you I tried. I really did. I went to each church with an open mind and an open heart. I knew it wasn’t an Anglican church. Yet every time, every single time, I left with an empty spot in the pit of my stomach or maybe in the center of my heart. Where were the prayers? Where were the creeds? Where was communion? Why were they singing songs with Hallelujah during Lent? Christmas carols before Christmas Eve? Where was Palm Sunday? Where were the Ashes? It was an empty shell for me. Like I said, I’m ruined.
Luckily for me, God brought us back to Thomasville shortly after we got married. Trinity no longer had to be a well in between long stretches in the desert, with each prayer and song and creed holding me together until the next visit. I was home. I am thankful for my time away, though, for every church I visited teaching me a little more about what exactly it was that I loved so dearly about being an Anglican.
So here we are again in Lent. A season where we can, as Fr. David said last Sunday, thin our lives and in the process thicken our communion with God. It’s beautiful.
I want to talk about the idea of the giving of our talents. The English Oxford dictionary defines talent as “a natural aptitude or skill.” I think when we think about talent we think about an artist or the next American Idol or the prima ballerina in a dance company or the CEO of a company. And when some think about giving their talents back to God, they think Oh, but I don’t have a talent. I’m here to say Oh, but you do.
There was a season in my life where my talent was sitting beside my friend hour after hour in a hospital waiting room, being silent, listening, waiting. Later, when we were out of the hospital, mourning the loss of my friend’s dad, people commented on how many hours I spent sitting, just being. Honestly, I hadn’t given all the hours a second thought. I took my ‘natural aptitude’ to love my friend and used it as an offering, silently, quietly, without show.
God formed each of us uniquely, right? In His own image. Some of us are outspoken and some of us are quiet. Some have obvious talents and some have talents that are known only between them and God. Maybe talents come and go in different seasons of life. Maybe for a season, God may call you to leap into action, using your leadership talent to forge ahead. Maybe for a season God may call you sit silently beside a friend, using your talent of loving deeply to simply be a body to help bear a burden.
I think of giving talents in the same way I think about giving treasure: every single thing I have is because the Lord has given it to me; it doesn’t belong to me in the first place, so giving it back to Him is the only thing that can be done.
Let’s lean into our Anglicanism this Lent. Don’t let it pass you by. Let’s ask God to reveal our talents to us, to reveal to us what we might not be seeing in ourselves. Let’s listen to hear what He might have to say. And then let’s act. Let’s bring our talents to the altar and lay them at the feet of Jesus. What a beautiful picture of the church that would be.