I guess it's an indicator of how busy things have been that I wrote a review of my visit to St. Matthias Anglican in Dallas Sunday afternoon and I'm only now posting it Friday evening. Before I posted, though, I had to figure out where I got the nickname "Smokey Matt's" -- and it turned out to be my old Anglican blogger friend Mark at Wannabe Anglican
! I thought
I'd known someone there.
But on to what I wrote Sunday:
Today this Wandering Anglican took advantage of being in Dallas on Sunday with no demand on my time until the afternoon and went off to visit a church I've known about for a while, St. Matthias Anglican or, as I've heard it called, "Smoky Matt's." And I am glad I did!
I don't recall the context where I first heard about Smoky Matt's, but I do know it was on the Internet. It may have been from the time when I was following the turmoil in the Episcopal church, perhaps through comments on some report or another, or even possibly private messages with a member in a religion forum. It was a while ago, and if it was through private messages I'd only have known that person's "screen name." In any event I arranged my travel plans so I'd be in Dallas with Sunday morning free.
Getting there was not too difficult; a 40 minute bus ride and a half-hour's hike of a bit over a mile and I was there – if a bit the worse for the unaccustomed heat and humidity. Fortunately I was 45 minutes early so I had time to cool down before folks started arriving for the service.
First impression: such a beautifully-done church! Our humble little St. Bartholomew's is almost spartan by comparison.
Second impression: such tall candles on the altar! The acolytes must receive a lot of training to light these candles.
Third impression: People started arriving a full half-hour before the service and seated themselves in the pews, quietly and worshipfully! These people are serious (as we all should be).
Fourth impression: Bells and smells galore! Quite a far cry from my church as a youth, where we held Holy Communion the first Sunday of the month only, the only bell was to note the start of the service, never any incense, we did not cross ourselves, etc. And here "Smoky Matt's" lived up to its nickname, though they must have been using very high-quality charcoal and incense to get such an intensity without it being problematic.
Fifth impression: the singing! They sing more of the service than we do, and both choir and congregation were in fine voice.
And lest one think it was all about the ritual, Fr. McBride delivered a powerful sermon for St. Matthew's Day, including(I paraphrase here, so any error is mine) Jesus as the healer and several cases of healing (including the woman who touched his garment and was healed – and an education about the awful predicament she was in in her society as a result of her affliction), how Matthew the tax-collector suffered from a soul-disease common today –materialism— and the corrosive effects of that we see today, without recognizing the cause.
The better part of a week later, I still treasure the visit. The gift bag alone was something: a copy of the latest newsletter, "The Antiphon"; a booklet about the church, the various opportunities for service, and other things; another booklet about Anglicanism; "Solemn High Mass explained"... they have supplied much if not all what a visitor might want to know about their church. What a great example!
And I really have to thank Fr. McBride for his gift of a lift back to my hotel, allowing me to remain a while for the coffee hour and visit instead of rushing off to catch the last bus into town before my afternoon pre-conference meetings.
What can I say but I cherish my visit to "Smokey Matt's," and hope my travels will make future visits possible.