False Epiphany

By Regina Peters

The first time I came to Saint Alban's, I fell in love. The soaring grandeur of the building, the jewel-bright colors of the stained-glass windows, the throbbing voice of the organ and the sheer weight of it – the repetition of century-old songs and verses, and the stories that were even older, caught me up like a leaf in the wind. I loved the feeling of community – members of one body, sheep in a flock – and the stories, so deeply intertwined with Western history and culture, which seemed to me like fairy tales come true.

I "found Christ". And a few months later, I lost Him again.

What am I doing here? I asked, staring blankly at the enormous wooden crucifix on the wall behind the altar. The voices of the congregation droned away as one, mumbling the words of the Nicene Creed. I believe in Jesus Christ…born of the Virgin Mary…He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. On the third day He rose again... I found my voice shrinking as I spoke, giving lip service to words that had, over the last few weeks, become as stale as an old communion wafer.

If my dad were here, I thought, he'd probably make a joke. I imagined him whispering behind his hand like a little boy: "That J. C. must've been an interesting guy. Multiplying the loaves and fishes...wish my caterers at the firm could do that."

A few moments later, the Reverend in his white robe stepped up to the pulpit. His voice was so loud and perky it still surprised me. There were streaks of bleach in his brown hair. He was talking about sin, how none of us actually deserves the incredible love of God, and he kept stabbing his finger into the air. I thought of my dad, who would be smiling at me over the Sunday roast an hour from now, asking what 'the Rev' had been ranting about this time.

Suddenly the priest fixed us with a blue-eyed glare and made a pause.

"Only those who accept Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior," said the priest, "Will ever see salvation. Are you in a relationship with God?"

"Some relationship," my father would reply, "When no one can prove He exists!"

I pictured him striding around Hell in his white shirt and chinos, wanting to know why they didn't run out of fuel for those fires; demanding to see his family; slamming his hands on the Devil's desk. Now listen, there's got to be a mistake!

If I'm in a relationship with God, I thought, then I guess this is the break-up.

I stood up, grabbed my purse and walked out through the center aisle.