On Becoming a Member of The Christian Community-by Richard Chomko
I’ve been coming to services at the Christian Community in Toronto since before the turn of the century. I was even married in The Christian Community, brought our children to Sunday school and had them confirmed there. However, officially, I was not a member. My wife Elisabeth, would say she had to go to the AGMs because she was a member but, I didn’t think much of it. I thought it was a formality; an administrative matter.
Since the Seminary landed here this past October, I’ve been going to services a lot and, have been generally feeling more a part of things. Before Christmas, in the Wednesday morning Living with Christ study group, Jonah announced that he was going to do a course that would be for members. It was enough of a nudge that I asked him a few days later about becoming a member.
Later, I realized, I would not have been able to attend that course anyway because I would be away, and as it turned out, the course never did take place. However, I still wanted to proceed with becoming a member. It seemed the right next step.
I met with Jonah and one other person who was preparing to become a member, on a couple of occasions in January. In these meetings, Jonah explained what was involved in becoming a member. He went through in detail, unpacking the Creed of the Christian Community which, is read after the Gospel during the Act of Consecration. It encapsulates many of the central ideas on which The Christian Community is based.
After I affirmed that I understood what he had explained and still wanted to become a member, Jonah performed with me, the ceremony of becoming a member. Like the Sacrament of Consultation, it involves standing at the altar with the Priest and then ceremonial words being spoken.
Afterwards, walking home, I felt a definite feeling which, I identified as joy. It was a kind of exuberance. I felt like running and, I ran a bit on and off, on my walk home. I’m not someone who’s overly in touch with their feelings, and joy is not something I had been feeling a lot of, so it stood out for me.
For at least a day or two after, I could feel an ongoing flow of some kind of energy or life, which seemed to be most noticeable in the front of my head. This feeling brought to my mind, the picture of the Christ as the vine and I, myself, as one of the branches. What I was feeling in my head, corresponded to a flow of “sap” from the vine into the branch.
At supper that night, my wife Elisabeth asked about my experience of becoming a member and how it felt. I told her my overwhelming feeling was one of joy and, that on my way home, I began to run with joy! She smiled, stood up and came around the dinner table to give me a hug and this is what she said, “Now you really are my brother in Christ.” It was a nice moment.
When I was first courting Elisabeth thirty-eight years ago, she had asked me if I was a Christian and, she said she wanted me to be her brother in Christ. Looking back at that time, this is not what I would have had in mind. I may have told her I wasn’t sure if I was really a Christian but, that perhaps I could become more of a Christian in time.