Sunday, July 27, 2014

Remember Christian Soul

That today and every day you have

God to glorify.

Jesus to imitate.

Salvation to work out with fear and trembling.

A body to use rightly.

Sins to repent.

Virtues to acquire.

Hell to avoid.

Heaven to gain.

Eternity to hold in mind.

Time to profit by.

Neighbors to serve.

The world to enjoy.

Creation to use rightly.

Slights to endure patiently.

Kindnesses to offer willingly.

Justice to strive for.

Temptations to overcome.

Death perhaps to suffer.

In all things, God's love to sustain you.

from Saint Augustine's Prayer Book

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fr. Tony Clavier on "the essence of Anglicanism"

In a brief essay entitled "The Anglican Way," Fr. Tony Clavier lays out his understanding of "the essence of Anglicanism." "None of these elements," he's careful to note, "are in themselves the exclusive property of our tradition, but taken together they express what our church - with a small c - has sought to be at its best.  As such these elements are always aspirational rather than accomplished ideals."

According to Fr. Tony, there are three elements comprising the essence of Anglicanism: sanctified time, sanctified space, and sanctified worship.  Here's what he says about each of them:

1. Anglicanism is a church of sanctified time. It embraces the rhythm of life of the community expressed in the annual calendar, and seeks to sanctify days, weeks, months and the year as it notes and observes times and seasons, festivals and fasts. It’s rhythm of worship is tied to this calendar, and expressed in the lectionary, daily offices, rites and ceremonies involved in births, comings of age, marriages and deaths. Time sanctified, as in the sounding of Herbert’s bell, as the ploughman stops work for a moment to acknowledge that his being is blessed by prayer and praise: church bells sounding, filling the very air breathed with God’s sound, heard by the community as men, women and children go about their lives: time sanctified in silence broken by the voice of prayer which never ceases. 
2. Anglicanism is a church of sanctified space. It embraces the land, dividing it into dioceses with mother, cathedral churches, and parishes also with mother parochial buildings, solemnly set aside and blessed, made holy by the prayers of the faithful, by Word and Sacrament and sacramental rite. It aspires to embrace the lives, occupations, joys and tragedies of the people who live within its bounds and calls, sets apart and authorizes ministers in what ever Order, to pastoral care and involvement in that context. Those who actively participate in the worship of the church, whose names are noted in lists and forms, constitute that pastoral ministry to the community, led by bishops, priests and deacons, the indelibility of whose apostolic callings symbolizes the indelibility of the baptismal vocation. 
3. Anglicanism is a church of sanctified worship. It seeks in common prayer, to unite the voices, spoken and imagined, of those in sacred time and space, in disciplined and thus liturgical forms, in praise of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in adoration, supplication and confession, supremely in the Eucharist and then in various forms of common prayer. To that end it seeks the beauty of holiness, corporate lives made holy by use of beauty in word and song, ceremony and rite, art and architecture, vesture and adornment whether simple or elaborate. It dedicates buildings and parts of buildings to God the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, or to the Trinity, or to holy men and women whose lives have been cause for veneration and emulation in their several ages and generations. These dedicated spaces symbolize and effectuate the vocation of the creature to adore the Creator, as the church on earth participates in and is aided by the worship of heaven.
In each of these ways the church lives into its vocation to tell the whole world of the Coming of Jesus, and is obedient to his commandment to preach, baptize, celebrate the Eucharist and to be his instrument of peace, justice and mercy, in simple obedience until he comes again. It is a vocation suitable to all places in all times, and depends not on what the world terms success or failure, but simply on obedience.

Read it all.

There's much more that can be said about Anglicanism as a unique expression of Christian faith and practice (see, for example, the collection of essays in The Study of Anglicanism, Michael Ramsey's The Anglican Spirit, and James Griffiss' The Anglican Vision). But Fr. Tony does an excellent job of succinctly laying out the basic aspirations of Anglicanism at its best.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Groaning for Redemption: Our Resurrection Hope

The epistle reading assigned for today in the Revised Common Lectionary for Proper 11A is a very powerful passage  Here's an excerpt:

I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what is seen? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience (Romans 8:18-25).

In an article entitled "You Do Not Groan Alone," Courtney Reissig draws on the 8th chapter of St. Paul's letter to the Romans to offer a moving reflection on pain and suffering.  Beginning with the experience of losing a child, Reissig paints an uncompromisingly realistic portrait of life in a fallen world while also faithfully proclaiming the Gospel hope.  Here are some excerpts from her article:

It doesn’t take long for us to look around and realize that in many ways everything in this world is screaming for redemption. ... As we watch loved ones reject Christ and make a wreck of their lives, we grieve and groan for God to make things right. Every pain-filled cry from our created bodies screams that this is not how it was supposed to be. Every bitter burial of a loved one is a groan for the dirt in the ground that swallows us up to push forth new life in the new creation. Every wrinkle, loose skin, gray hair, and aching back reminds us that this old body needs complete restoration. We are all longing for Christ’s final consummation of all things with every feeble breath we take.

But our groaning is not the final word. The same Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead will one day raise our ailing parents, gone-too-soon children, and cancer-ridden spouses, friends, and family members (Rom. 8:11). Through our suffering we are made like him and assured that we are his children. The Spirit will give life to our mortal bodies on that last day (Rom. 8:16-17). ...

Living in a world that is groaning for redemption is hardly easy. It requires more than we have to give at times. The very Spirit who brought Christ from the cold, dark grave will do the same for us. And when we don’t have eyes of faith to see as clearly as we ought, he intercedes on our behalf. So while we live in this broken world we have hope. Not that it will be easy. Not that we will always feel able to endure. But that this Christ, who will make all things right one day, is sustaining us and making us like him in every gut-wrenching sorrow.

Read it all.

Reissig reminds us that our hope as Christians does not consist of sloughing off our bodies and leaving behind God's creation to spend an eternity of disembodied bliss in heaven.  On the contrary, the Christian hope is a resurrection hope.  We express that hope every time we say, in the words of the Apostles' Creed, that we believe in "the resurrection of the body."  And we affirm that hope every Sunday when we say, in the words of the Nicene Creed, that "we look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come."  

Our hope for redemption includes our bodies and all of the physical world.  It's about the marriage of heaven and earth as a new creation.  That's what we have to look forward to.  Our souls and bodies groan for this future.  And thanks be to God, that future has already begun in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Henry McAdoo: What is Anglicanism?

"[Anglicanism] is a liturgical and sacramental and devotional religion for everyday use by committed people. It is deeply aware that the individual is responsible for living his own life and doing his own decision-making in cooperation with the grace of the Spirit. Yet he is an individual who is a member of the eucharistic fellowship of the baptized and he is called to live 'the new life' of the imitation of Christ in the company of his fellows to whom he owes the duty of love. It is alive to the demands and the difficulties which being human makes on the vocation of 'walking in newness of life' but it is aware too that at the heart of this threefold duty to God, the neighbor and the self, is 'the mystery which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.' Always the strictness of discipline, the care of observance, and the affectivity of devotion are centered on 'the new possibility' which is there when the Life recreates lives through faith and repentance."

~ Henry R. McAdoo, First of its Kind: 
Jeremy Taylor's Life of Christ (1994)