Sometimes, the best way to appreciate and to connect with what we know well is to experience something else that’s different—either a lot different, or a little bit different. Studying French and German has given me more “aha” moments about how English works than many years of school. As I learned the grammar of those other languages, I’ve finally understood and been able to explain why it is a certain construction occurs in English. This kind of revelation—seeing something familiar with fresh eyes—happens with liturgy, too. It’s when we visit other parishes in our own dioceses, or further afield, or when we experience the worship services of communities of other Christian denominations that we see what we have in common and what’s different. Visits can give us “eyes to see,” that help us to reflect on our own practice: allowing us to better celebrate what is good and to nurture what needs care.
We begin a three-part series of reflections on our Canadian experiences seen in the light of a sojourning priest from the province immediately to the south. My friend, the Reverend Matthew Cadwell, is the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Wakefield, Massachusetts. He’s also a doctoral candidate at Trinity College, Toronto, and his research focuses on Anglican identity and comprehensiveness. During the course of his studies, Matthew lived in the Diocese of Toronto and served an associate priest at a few different parishes—as well as visiting a number of others during his travels. Matthew has spent significant time in The Episcopal Church before coming to the Anglican Church of Canada before returning to his current parish. Because of those movements, I invited him to reflect on three questions. I wanted to know, in his experience,
- What are the most significant differences in liturgical expression between the two provinces?
- What does he like best about the liturgical way of being in each province?
- What from Canadian practice does he find himself missing the most, now that he’s back in TEC?
Over the next three weeks, we’ll share Matthew’s answers and ask you to weigh in with stories about your experiences. For now, I’d love to know: what’s been the most significant experience of worshipping someplace other than home? What made it so remarkable?