I sat in the cushioned chair of an Anglican church in Nashville. A beautiful Sunday morning on the tail end of a wonderful gathering called Hutchmoot. It’s been a while since I’ve attend an Anglican service, at least four years I think. I have a love for liturgical services, there’s something comforting in reading the word aloud, something both challenging and unnerving about reading scripture that isn’t necessarily thematic, and many things I enjoy about responsive prayers.
My wife and I found our seats as others filed in, Church of the Redeemer is the church if you’re ever in Nashville I highly recommend it. The sanctuary was cool and lit bright through the windows, the air filled with familiar sounds of church chatter and feet shuffling. While I looked over the order of worship, all ten pages of it, the Anglicans don’t mess around when it comes to the order of worship, my wife people-watched. She tapped my shoulder and said, “that’s the guy from Nashville.” This may have been confusing to someone else being that we were in Nashville, but not me. We both watch the television show “Nashville” and so I turned my head to see Charles “Chip” Esten walk right by me. Chip played a minor character on “The Office”, did some stuff on “Who’s Line Is It Anyway”, and currently plays a lead character named Deacon on “Nashville.” You can choose to be impressed or not, this was the first time I’ve ever been near anyone like that before. He sat with his family in front of us.
When the time came to greet one another with the Peace of Christ, we shook hands and greeted one another. There’s my claim to fame. 🙂
Casey and I enjoyed the worship service, singing aloud to the Lord. Then came time for communion. (Sarah Clarkson wrote a wonderful reflection on Hutchmoot and Communion that jump started my thoughts here.) Communion, on this day, was an experience that I will not soon forget. There in this beautiful church we kneeled to receive the Lord’s Supper. If there was ever a time for a persistent illusion to be shattered, it was then. My wife and I, along with many of the well known singer songwriters and authors from the Hutchmoot conference, along with actors, along with other everyday people, all bowed before the same God. Together we sought the same grace, the same hope, the same redemption. Together we shared the same meal. And I was yet again reminded that in the Kingdom of God equality flows like fresh air.
After the service, I’ll admit, I was tempted to introduce myself to Chip and tell him I was a fan, but I did not. I stood in the same church lobby as a small group surrounded him and talked to him when I heard someone say, “Is your name Rob?” I turned around in a bit of surprise assuming a prank was occurring.
“You’re Rob Collins aren’t you?”
“Yes,” I responded. Thinking to myself, “Surely I’m being messed with. There’s no way I’m standing in this small church lobby with famous musicians, authors, and actors and someone is asking about me!”
Turns out, it was not a prank. This kind young man, a grad student at Vandy, has family that attend my church and Redeemer happens to be a church that he frequents. He knew me. Me, in that church, at that place, two hours from my home I was known. It felt like home.
Driving back to our house in Alabama I reflected upon the simple prayer and that all in Christ pray, regardless of status:
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”