I was in high school when I first heard the term cafeteria Christian. The American preacher was telling us about it at church camp, he was a passionate apologist, and I remember a lot of “them” and “those people,” a lot of derision about the idea, shaming. Because cafeteria Christians, especially those cold and liberal mainliners, just pick and choose whatever they like from the Christian faith, more concerned with political correctness than the Real True Doctrines.
Cafeteria Christians, well, those people don’t take what they’re given, the whole nutritious balanced plate, no, they make a meal at the ice cream sundae station, chase it with Lucky Charms, they skip veggies.
In my tired years, I was a mega-church refugee, a burned out ministry wife, a doubter, a questioner, a people-pleaser, a tired performer, a new seeker all over again, and I found my way to the Anglican Church. And they helped save me a time or two, because I was not taking communion, I was receiving the Eucharist, just another twenty-something evangelical kid on the Canterbury Trail.
One day, I was on a lunch break from my credit union gig in downtown Vancouver. I walked up Burrard, hugely pregnant with my second child, hurrying through the crowds of business suits, sidestepping buskers, pressed by the constant hum of conversation, of busy and capable people, the feeling of go-go-go-go on the young city’s sidewalks. I cut from the crowd at the corner of Georgia to climb the stone steps of the old church.
From the voices and the bustle, the modernity and money of our glass towers and dime-a-dozen sushi joints, to the narthex of an old cathedral. This silence and holiness, this quiet, was existing right at the same spot, but for the seeking. The weight of holiness and prayer, the smell of candles, old wooden pews, lanterns, musty papers. The dull light coming through hundred-year-old stained glass windows illuminated only dust swirling in the air. The church was completely empty, yet the doors were open, and even that small grace felt like a whole new thing to me.