How to Survive Your First Week at Rez

The first time I walked through the doors of the Church of Resurrection, I was walking into a high school—Glenbard West. I had friends who attended, but I wasn’t sure where they were sitting, and I came in late (because that’s what I do), so I found myself sitting in the far back of the auditorium. I was taking a break from my large non-denominational church, and mostly, I was curious about what all the ruckus around “Rez” was. My friends loved it. They all talked about it. Their affection was borderline cult-like. I had to check it out.

I had no idea, walking in that Sunday morning, that Rez was a liturgical church. I was totally thrown off by the dresses the pastors were wearing and the incense smells and the way that kids seemed to be allowed to run around the auditorium whenever they wanted. I spent most of the (extremely long) service trying to find my place in that giant novel of a church bulletin, while watching people pass their kids around, to and fro, and the nursing mothers in the back.

When we got to the “Passing of the Peace” I almost had a panic attack. Why is this such a long process? Why is everything scripted? What what what what is happening? I shook one person’s hand, a tall skinny man who’d been playing trumpet and looked too young to drive but is apparently both married with kids and a pastor, and sat down after learning that the appropriate response to “Peace be with you” is not actually, “Thanks. Good morning,” but instead, “And also with you.” Who talks like that?

If there had been room underneath the seats, I would have hid beneath them until the whole thing was over.

I didn’t come back for five months.

But I was feeling less and less at home at my church at the time, so last December, I decided to give Rez another chance, and I picked the inaugural “new building” Sunday to make my appearance.

I don’t know what changed this time. Perhaps it was that I knew what to expect, or that I’d planned far ahead enough to sit with a friend, but my experience this second round was completely different. The choir was beautiful. The sermon was convicting. And by the time we got to communion, I was in tears. I felt, for the first time in years, like this Baptist-raised girl had found her home. In an Anglican church.

I’ve been at Church of the Resurrection for ten months now, and slowly but surely, I’ve learned how to “Rez.” I know what to expect, I know when to sit and stand, and I’ve (almost) stopped laughing when I try to say “Peace be with you.”

And now, young grasshoppers, I will teach you a few things I’ve learned.

  1. The things the pastors wear aren’t called dresses. They also aren’t called robes. They’re “Vestments.” Who knew?
  2. You don’t need to say anything back to the person who gives you communion and tells you what the sacraments are. You just take them. Put one hand over the other and let them give you some Jesus-bread. If you’re freaked out by the communal wine cup, there are little cups of grape juice next to them. It’s okay. This is about partaking in the beauty of the Body of Christ.
  3. The pastors aren’t lazy—the sermon is actually supposed to be that short. It’s jam-packed with theological goodness and I think maybe it has to be short because otherwise our heads will explode. Oh, and it’s called a homily, bt-dubs.
  4. You get to call some of the men in vestments “Fathers.” Father Kevin. Father Stephen. Father Rudy. You get it.
  5. The women (They have female pastors. High five, Sister Suffragette.) in vestments are Deacons. As in, “The Deacon Karen Miller,” or as I like to call her, “Her Honorable Highness, The Reverend Karen Miller.” Karen Miller is the coolest. She’s married to Father Kevin. He’s the tall one.
  6. Steve Williamson, the worship pastor, uses coconut oil in his hair. That’s how it stays so perfectly in place. I just wanted to save you the hours of pondering.
  7. Trevor is the one who’s always wearing those sweet red shoes underneath his vestment. He’s a deacon (there are guy deacons too I guess) and father of two wee little hobbits that have the energy and powers of ten children, Nora and Finn. Trevor’s wife Bonnie sings like a boss and leads a lot of Sundays. Get on board.
  8. Keith Hartsell is a “deacon,” not a “father,” but he is a father. He has a bunch of little kids.
  9. Bishop Stewart also has a bunch of kids, big and little.
  10. Amy Patton is the RezKids pastor, but she didn’t have a kid, except for the RezKids, so she just had a kid, so now she has a kid and the RezKids. Make sense?
  11. Bunches of kids are definitely a thing at Rez.
  12. Speaking of kids, if you have a baby, you can baptize him or her if you choose, but you don’t have to. It’s a personal decision. I think that’s cool. Also, bring them up during communion and they’ll get prayed over. When I watch this I cry.
  13. It’s okay to cry at Rez. I cry a lot.
  14. LITURGY IS AWESOME. Learn to love it. Learn to let that wisdom soak into you. It will change you, if you let it.
  15. Everybody goes up for prayer from the prayer ministers—everybody­—at some point. Don’t be afraid to let the prayers of these people wash over you when you need it, no matter how big or small the need.
  16. Holy Week is a marathon, not a sprint. If you miss any of the days, you will hate yourself. This Easter season I encountered my first-ever “Maundy Thursday” service, and I cried like a baby while we walked through the time where Christ prepared to be crucified. (See number 13.) And for the love of Pete, go to Vigil, and bring everyone you’ve ever met with you.
  17. The more you participate, the more you’ll feel at home.
  18. That big thing in the center of the church is a baptismal font. Yes, they can baptize a fully-grown man in there. No, you can’t fall into it normally—there’s a protective plastic covering inside of it. Yes, it’s pretty. And most importantly, yes, you can touch it. Go ahead.
  19. Make sure you watch Bishop Stewart during worship sometime. That move, the soaring hands dancing-spin move? It’s called the soaring eagle.

Just getting you in the loop, friend. If you need any other pointers, I’ll be the girl sitting behind the sound booth area, laughing through the Peace and crying through Communion.

Welcome to Rez!

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