He isn’t Nazarene in that he hasn’t been raised in it. He wasn’t raised in any church. He voices that he belongs to God, and shares with me his agreement with the teachings of the Church in what is right, what is wrong, and particularly the Apostolic calling passed down from Peter, Popes and priests as holding the keys of the Kingdom and their duties of administration to the Church. That last part is a stretch for him. Other than those under papal authority, he sees no other man has having anything from God that is not also available to him. So he is unable to follow a particular minister outside the Catholic Church (unless we should find in another church, a man of peculiar devotion who is somehow able to inspire such a confidence in my husband, but then in that case, he knows that I shall never be able to take communion again in any church, unless I become able to receive the sacrament of the Eucharist, in light of the revelation I have received).
I’d like to say something else here about being Nazarene:
Beautiful are my memories of the little church of which my grandmother was the last living charter member. The people in this church were simple people of compassion and action. My goodness, the testimony I hold is that of a church, this small group of people (many of which came directly from Pilgrim Holiness, and I remember their special dresses and convictions about buttoning up to the neck, long sleeves and never showing the heels or toes) who were so gently radical. Should I ever find another like it I would plant myself among them and never move, even without holy communion, I would dwell among them and do acts of spiritual communion in my heart. Why? Because this is where my deepest faith began. I only erred when I left it to “grow” into Charismatic teaching.
Going to the altar to pray was a regular practice for me. Grandma encouraged it. My childhood was troubled by issues surrounding me at home, and in her wisdom, she knew that my only hope would be to learn a life of devotion to God, and that included fervent prayer. This Kentuckian, she’d say, “Better to ride the altar rail to heaven, than to sit in the pew and go to hell.” The piano would softly play, “Just As I Am”; handkerchief in hand, tears flowing, I’d carry my burden to that altar. Yes, there was a place with no distractions, only God waiting for me. I’d quietly whisper my concerns and fears, and I’d ask for His guidance in areas of my developing life. Soon I’d hear the swooshing of the ladies’ dresses as they stepped up behind me. And they’d call out to God with me. And they never left my side until we’d “prayed through”, obtaining some assurance from God that our prayers had been heard.
This peculiar little church, their gospel seemed simple to the more sophisticated Christians. A frequent testimony would be heard: “I’ve been made new; I don’t drink, nor smoke, nor cuss.” Their outreaches were certainly through the denomination’s missionary focus, but locally, they were very active. Grandma was called to direct ministry. She’d go right up to someone’s door, knock on it, and testify of Jesus. “How rude,” someone might say. Indeed, the gospel can be. It is offensive to stir up someone’s peace of mind by telling them that going to Heaven means repentance for sin, turning from it, and following Jesus. Grandma wasn’t one to fuss over manners, she was called to win souls for Jesus, plain and simple.
So this is how they were. They took seriously God’s charge to give to the poor, to accept those “outside the gates”. Through the years I saw every kind of person sit in those pews. Strange people who somehow registered in the mind as strange, but who were never defined to me as anything in particular; no one was ever described as gay, or a harlet, or anything else. We felt strongly that God was fully capable of dealing with the sin in an individual’s life. Our business was NOT to describe or label it, it was to give love to them. It was to preach to them that all sin was to be repented of (and that was up to each individual to do, as only they knew their own sins). Meanwhile, where there were hungry, we fed; where their were children, we taught. The women were examples of Jesus’ holiness through feminine traits and the men were examples of Jesus’ holiness through masculine traits. And holiness was preached always.
In the end, the church died out. What this was to me, was a small gathering of Christians who were called together for the period of their lives, to give the way they did. And then, at last, all they had was given away. Some would say that if God’s blessing was upon it, it would still be going today. But this has been a lesson to me of how God can call people and purpose their lives however He sees fit. And I am thankful for it. Thankful to have been a part of it and to have witnessed this. For some, it reaches to future generations. For some, it is limited to the present. And to have been called to any condition is good because it comes from God.
The closest feeling to this I’ve ever seen, is in the Catholic Church. But I am sure my experiences are limited. Thanks be to God for what I lived in that Nazarene Church.