Archive for the ‘Anglican’ Category

Anglicans have rightly been referred to as the people of the book, that is people of the Book of Common Prayer. Our spiritual heritage and our common ground with other Anglicans is rooted in our common prayer and our common liturgies contained in the BCP.

100th Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey, noted in his lecture “The Anglican Spirit” that it is the BCP that distinguishes us Anglicans from other continental, reformation movements.

It is important to notice that while other churches on the Continent with Reformation roots also had their sets of articles, the Anglican Settlement as now defined had not only a confession, a set of articles, but also a Prayer Book. It is this foundation that was, and remains, so very characteristic of the Anglican paradosis (that which is delivered over by teaching or tradition, the substance of teaching). And it is true to say that while there are churches in Christendom where, when you ask, “Now tell us what you stand for?” they will say, “Well here are our articles, that is what we stand for,” it has always been characteristic of Anglicans to reply, “Yes, here are our articles, but here is our Prayer Book as well – come and pray with us, come and worship with us, and that is how you will understand what we stand for.” 

Michael Ramsey, The Anglican Spirit, p. 17-18.



Read Full Post »

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”

Todd Granger and Jill Martin were wonderful to allow us to come and take over their lovely Chatham County home as we gathered to commemorate The Great Vigil of Easter this past Holy Saturday.

As daylight receded, we gathered outside to kindle the new fire, marking Christ’s transition from death back into life. We lit the Pashcal Candle from the new fire and processed it while declaring to the gathering darkness:

“The light of Christ. Thanks be to God.”
“The light of Christ. Thanks be to God.”
“The light of Christ. Thanks be to God.”

As we entered the darkened house, each was given a taper. It was a beautiful scene. The Exsultent was sung as it reminded us:

This is the night, when you brought our fathers, the children of Israel, out of bondage in Egypt, and led them through the Red Sea on dry land.  

This is the night, when all who believe in Christ are delivered from the gloom of sin, and are restored to grace and holiness of life.

This is the night, when Christ broke the bonds of death and hell, and rose victorious from the grave.

How wonderful and beyond our knowing, O God, is your mercy and loving-kindness to us, that to redeem a slave, you gave a Son.

How holy is this night, when wickedness is put to flight, and sin is washed away. It restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to those who mourn. It casts out pride and hatred, and brings peace and concord.

How blessed is this night, when earth and heaven are joined and man is reconciled to God.

Nick and Jill

We then listened earnestly to the record of God’s saving deeds in history. Israel’s deliverance at the Red Sea is described in Exodus 14:10-15:1. Isaiah 55:1-11 describes God’s salvation offered freely to all. And a new heart and a new spirit was described in Ezekiel 36:24-28.

There were no Baptisms or Confirmations so we all joined our voices in The Renewal of Baptismal Vows. Having recognized that in our Baptism we die and are raised to new life in Christ, we then celebrated Christ’s new life by lighting the candles on the altar,  throwing on the house lights, and proclaiming with loud voices and bells ringing, “Alleluia. Christ is risen. The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia.”

We heard powerful words from our tradition in St. John Chrysostom’s “Easter Homily.” Christ is risen and Hell has been embittered, abolished, mocked, purged, despoiled, and bound in chains! We celebrated Holy Communion. We sang. We alleluia-ed. Afterwards, we feasted together. I still lament not having one of Nancy Robinson’s cupcakes!  There was a bonfire and fireworks.

What a wonderful and joyful evening. To Christ be the glory!

Read Full Post »

The Table at Holy Trinity

At Holy Trinity-Chatham, we are actively thinking and praying about when to move to Sunday morning worship services, as well as where to hold them. As I was thinking, the thought occurred, “What are the essentials to equip a place of worship for the ministry of prayer, and sacrament?” Having been a part of a church plant that moved into temporary Sunday morning facilities in a school and is now in a rental space, there can be a number of challenges to doing worship well on Sunday mornings. What did Anglican churches do in the days before amplifiers and powerpoints?

From the Canons of 1604, LXXX–LXXXIII, Cardwell, Synodalia, pp. 292–3.

LXXX The church-wardens … of every church and chapel shall, at the charge of the parish, provide the Book of Common Prayer.… And if any parishes be yet unfurnished of the Bible of the largest volume, or of the books of Homilies allowed by authority, the said church-wardens shall within convenient time provide the same at the like charge of the parish.

LXXXI There shall be a font of stone in every church and chapel where baptism is to be ministered; the same to be set in the ancient usual places: in which only font the minister shall baptize publicly.

LXXXII Whereas we have no doubt, but that in all churches within the realm of England, convenient and decent tables are provided and placed for the celebration of the holy communion, we appoint, that the same tables shall from time to time be kept and repaired in sufficient and seemly manner, and covered, in time of divine service, with a carpet of silk or other decent stuff, thought meet by the ordinary of the place, if any question be made of it, and with a fair linen cloth at the time of ministration, as becometh that table, and so stand, saving when the said holy communion is to be administered: at which time the same shall be placed in so good sort within the church or chancel, as thereby the minister may be more conveniently heard of the communicants in his prayer and ministration, and the communicants also more conveniently, and in more number, may communicate with the said minister; and that the Ten Commandments be set upon the east end of every church and chapel where the people may best see and read the same, and other chosen sentences written upon the walls of the said churches and chapels, in places convenient; and likewise that a convenient seat be made for the minister to read service in. All these to be done at the charge of the parish.

LXXXIII A pulpit to be provided in every church.…

The Canons of 1604 spell it out fairly clearly:

  • The Book of Common Prayer and then the Holy Bible. 
  •  A font of stone for baptisms.
  • A table properly appointed, the Ten Commandments displayed to the east, and chosen sentences in view upon the walls.
  • A pulpit.

“The Book of Common Prayer”: The BCP contains the means by which the people of God can pray and worship together. The liturgy is, in large part, mostly Scripture or at least rooted in Scripture. The Psalter in its entirety would have been provided and many would know them and their set tunes by heart. By having the BCP, each church ensured that each participant was just that: a participant in the worship of the Triune God. At Holy Trinity, we make the liturgy available as much as possible in our orders of service. We print the Psalm appointed for that day, the full Gospel passage, and the Eucharistic prayers in their entirety to encourage full participation.

“A font of stone for baptisms”: Yes! It is essential to emphasize the sacramental reality implicit in Christian Baptism and to let your worship space reflect that reality! For reasons I understand, there aren’t many contemporary church planting resources which would encourage one of your first considerations for worship to be a baptismal font. Yet if we believe as we pray that in the waters of Baptism we are both “buried with Christ in his death [and] by it we share in his resurrection,” shouldn’t there be some water in the room when we gather to worship? There is the little water mixed with wine in Communion. But there is something to the making of water available for the faithful to touch, to sign themselves, and to remember their baptism.

“A table properly appointed…”: The table, as the place where our “souls and bodies are quickened to eternal life,”  the apex of each of our services. It should therefore be attired appropriately with the season’s liturgical color, clean linens, and beautiful patins and chalices. One of the things we are more and more convinced of here at Holy Trinity is the call of God to be a local parish church, committed to and standing in solidarity with Christ and this community. We are hopeful to be able to appoint our worship space with locally crafted furnishings and ornaments to reflect our commitment to this place – rather than choosing the convenience of catalog shopping.

“…the Ten Commandments displayed to the east, and chosen sentences in view upon the walls”: Not only does the Decalogue provide the revealed “way of living a God-pleasing life,” but it provides a visible reminder by which you should “judge yourselves, therefore, lest you be judged by the Lord.” The Law reveals our limitations and our inability to live as we should. But for those of us in Christ, it  kindles our dependence upon and our gratitude for grace.

“Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 5:20-21).

“A pulpit to be provided in every church…”: The pulpit is the place where God’s Word is proclaimed afresh. According to the introduction to “Book I” of the Homilies: “Considering how necessary it is, that the word of GOD, which is the only food of the soul, and that most excellent light that we must walk by, in this our most dangerous pilgrimage, should at all convenient times be preached unto the people, that thereby they may both learn their duty towards God and their neighbors, according to the mind of the holy Ghost, expressed in the Scriptures.” At the moment, we’re content with a music stand. But one day…. When that day comes, I’d like to have inscribed these words from John 12:21, so that every preacher who ever preaches in this church  will be reminded  before they preach:

Sir, we’ve come to see Jesus.
Our Anglican grandparents in  the faith have much to teach us about what to prioritize in our places of worship. If we were to take these canons to heart at Holy Trinity, not only would we major in the majors, but we’d be aligned with some very time-tested practices of the church. We’d likely save money for more almsgiving, as well. There’s much to consider. We appreciate your prayers.

Read Full Post »

Archbishop’s Easter Homily – Easter Vigil, 23rd April, A.D.2011

“It is the difference between night and day.” How often have we used this expression?  Countless times.  This is a metaphor that makes great sense to humankind, because the night and the day are so different.  So little, relatively speaking, is possible in the darkness, and so much is possible in the light.

The difference between the “stone cold tomb” (as the Epiphany carol puts it[1]) and the empty tomb is “night and day.”  The watch between Holy Saturday and Easter morn is the contrast between the darkest night and the brightest day.

Before this night all human history ends in night, ends in the tomb.  After this night there is the possibility of human life issuing in endless day.  Easter changes everything.  Jesus changes everything.  Technically, of course, it is the cross that achieves what Luther called the “Great Exchange,” but the cross is the ultimate darkness, the ultimate night, in terms of human history as a dead end, where even the light of day (according to the Gospel accounts themselves) becomes dark as night.  The ultimate night, Good Friday, ends in the death of Life, followed by the three days night of Jesus’ entombment.  Before the dawn of Easter is mankind’s longest and darkest night.  Until this night all human life ends in death.

Jesus’ Resurrection makes possible to every man, woman, and child that his or her life might end with life, rather than with death.  Jesus’ Resurrection also makes possible “abundant life” before death, life lived without fear of death – life fearlessly lived.  It also makes possible life empowered by God’s Holy Spirit, life lived in concert with God’s purposes and God’s will, rather than in the increasing pain of aging and the gathering darkness of the dying that is the consequence of humanity’s endless rebellion.

Accepting Jesus is a choice, for every individual and for whole peoples.  Without Jesus day ends in night.  With Jesus night ends in day.  And it is not just about the way each of our stories ends, but also about the whole of our story itself.  Those who follow Jesus become agents of light – by the working of the Holy Spirit and despite their sin – in the darkness of this world.  Those who do not know Jesus are increasingly overtaken  by the darkness brought by others or by the inevitable death overtaking their own life.  These are the options, this is the choice: darkness and light, night and day.

One of the Easter Vigil’s most famous stories is of the baptism of an extraordinarily gifted young man who had sought answers in all the philosophies of his age and in all the pleasures of the world.  One day he heard a child singing, “Pick it up and read it.”  He heard the song several times, but could not see the child.  He picked up a Bible and happened to turn to Romans 13:13-14[2].  He later wrote: “My heart was flooded with light.”  He would also later pray: “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”  The date was April 24th, 387.  The place Milan.  The young man’s name was Augustine, arguably the greatest intellect in all of human history.  For him the decision was to follow Jesus.  For him the decision was to allow day to follow night.

Another of the great Easter Vigil stories occurs in a savage and pagan land on the edge of the known world.  On the Hill of Slane, on the night of the spring equinox, in sight of the Irish kingdom gathered around their king to celebrate their deity’s festival, a newly consecrated bishop lights an Easter fire to proclaim to an unevangelized people that true day was breaking in on their night.  The evangelist’s name was Patrick.  Soon a whole people, a whole nation, would choose for the day that can follow night.  The year was 433.

We who gather here for worship on this Easter near the beginning of the 21st century face a world of competing ideologies and pagan savageries.  The choice remains one of whether night will follow day, or day will follow night.  Every individual must choose and every people must decide.  (If there are any here who haven’t yet chosen, it is not too late.  Step from the gathering darkness of your night into blazing light of Jesus’ day.)  Jesus presents the choice.  His cross and empty tomb present a doorway into a very different future, the difference (and the doorway) between night and day.  Our call is to live in the day, both by deed and by word.  Our call is to the transformation of the world with the love and light of Jesus.  We can help one another to live abundantly in the day, and we can help others to choose Jesus and the new day He offers.  It is a matter of life and death, of day and night.  We here know the tomb is empty.  We know what is possible in Jesus.  In thanksgiving for what Jesus has done for us, let us be agents of the same Easter choice for others.  We know that day does follow night for those who make the Easter choice.

Alleluia.  Christ is risen!        The Lord is risen indeed.  Alleluia!              AMEN.

[1] We Three Kings, stanza 4, Hymnal1982, Hymn 128.

[2] “Let us conduct ourselves becomingly as in the day, not in reveling and drunkenness, not in debauchery and licentiousness, not in quarreling and jealousy.  But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.”  These two verses are preceded by the exhortation: “Let us then cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light.”

Read Full Post »

Last night we gathered beneath the shadow of the cross to remember and receive by faith the last hours of our Lord. The Good Friday liturgy begins with a solemn procession, silence, and this prayer:

Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The prophet Isaiah (52:13-53:12) was read, reminding us that Israel had long been waiting for this servant of God to come and bring deliverance and forgiveness of sins.

Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the  chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

The Passion Gospel was then read by a number of readers. The congregation voiced the cries of the crowd and those who would have Jesus crucified. We stood when he arrived at Golgotha. We bowed when he, “gave up his spirit”

I was grateful to be given the opportunity to preach the Good Friday homily. I spoke on Jesus’ choice to restrain himself in order to be obedient to his Father’s will. His obedience in going to the tree of Golgotha undid the destruction caused by the disobedience of the first humans who went to the tree in Eden and ate of its fruit.

When I spoke of Jesus taking all of the the  sin and wickedness, disobedience, suffering, and sorrow of the world into and onto himself, I was unexpectedly moved emotionally – even to tears. It was the first time that’s ever happened when I’ve preached. As I’ve processed that experience, I’m still not exactly certain what happened. The Spirit kindled something deep within me that I had not planned and was not expecting. I was simultaneously overcome with the reality of the brokenness of this world and Christ’s suffering for it.

Looking out over the faces of the congregation, knowing their stories, their struggles and their griefs, it was as if I glimpsed the devastating extent of the Fall. Internally, I was also aware of the damaging effects of sin in my life and the life of my family. In that moment, I was awakened  unexpectedly to our desperate need for a Savior.

I woke up at 3:15 this morning for some unknown reason and I was pondering this experience. I was gratefully reminded of some words I’d read by Lancelot Andrewes recently:

Give tears then: give the grace of tears.
Give me, Lord, this great grace. 
Tears such as Thou didst give to David, to Jeremiah, to Peter, and to Mary Magdalene. 
Tears gain everything.

We finished the service with The Solemn Collects, the veneration of the cross, and a magnificent rendition of Bach’s passion story according to St. Matthew by Beth Linnartz, Ehsan Samei, and Todd Granger (Aus Liebe Will Mein Heiland Sterben).

Again, what a feast of feasts, these days are! And it’s not over yet! Tonight a number of us from Holy Trinity will gather for the The Great Vigil. Then tomorrow, we will sing, “Christ the Lord is risen today,” with our brothers and sisters at All Saints.

I confess, I am greatly looking forward to the end of  Lent. It has been a long and challenging one in many respects. Not just for me but for those whom I love. I agree with Tom Wright, after such a long Lent, we need more than one day to celebrate the magnitude of the resurrection. “We need days of morning prayers and champagne,” to rightly linger in the joy of this celebration!

Read Full Post »

This is the rule of our faith, the foundation of our building, and the consolidation of our way of life. God, the Father, uncreated, unlimited, invisible, one God, the creator of the universe—this is the first article of our faith. The second article is the Word of God, the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord, who was revealed by the Prophets in accord with the genre of their prophecies and in accord with the plan of the Father; through him all things have been made. At the end of times, in order to recapitulate all things, he has become a man among men, visible and palpable, so as to destroy death, bring life to light, and effect the reconciliation of God and man. And the third article is the Holy Spirit; through him the Prophets prophesied, our fathers were taught the things of God, and the just were led along the path of righteousness. At the end of times, he has been poured forth in a new manner upon all men, in order to renew them for God over the whole earth. Therefore, the baptism of our new birth is placed under the sign of these three articles. God the Father grants it to us in view of our new birth in his Son through the Holy Spirit. For those who are bearers of the Holy Spirit are led to the Word who is the Son, and the Son leads them to the Father, and the Father confers incorruptibility on us. Without the Spirit it is impossible to see the Word of God, and without the Son one cannot approach the Father. For the Son is the knowledge of the Father, and the knowledge of the Son is had through the Holy Spirit; and the Son gives the Spirit according to the Father’s good pleasure. Through the Spirit, the Father is called Most High, Almighty, and Lord of Hosts. Thus, we come to the knowledge of God: we know that God exists, that he is the creator of heaven and earth and all things, the maker of angels and men, the Lord, through whom all things come into existence, and from whom all things proceed, rich in mercy, grace, compassion, goodness, and justice.


Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, d. c. 202, Demonstration of Apostolic Preaching 6–8: SC 62, pp. 39–44. Tr. Christian Readings, ed. John E. Rotelle (Catholic Book Publishing, New York), IV, p. 7.

Read Full Post »

[If] we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

– CS Lewis, The Weight of Glory

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »