Tag Archives: Anglican

Thinking Through the Benefits and Necessity of Liturgy

“Liturgy is boring.”

“Liturgy is repetitive.”

“Liturgy stifles the Holy Spirit.”

“Yuck, liturgy.”

These are some of the reactions I’ve had when people hear that I’m currently attending an Anglican church. And yet, even before I began attending an Anglican church I knew that liturgy was an important and necessary part of my Christian faith. Even in more low-church, non-liturgical settings, the routine and familiarity of the order of service, of the rhythm of taking communion once a month, the routine of 3 praise songs, the offering, the sermon, the altar call and time of prayer, and the dismissal shaped and discipled my Christian walk.

Today, I want to just explore some reasons why liturgy, especially formal liturgy, can be beneficial:

It creates space to hear the Holy Spirit. There is something about saying the same words over and over again, where they seep into your very core, and you reach the place where you no longer have to follow along with the bulletin or the liturgical text. You’re no longer thinking, “okay, what comes next? What do I have to do?” In that comfortable space, the words that are so familiar become new as you can focus on hearing the meaning behind the words instead of trying to play catch up and follow along. The comfortable words (to use a phrase from the Book of Common Prayer) become enhanced with new meaning as the Holy Spirit draws your attention to some new detail that you hadn’t previously considered, or as the Holy Spirit uses the words to heal your soul and give you rest.

It guards against accidental heresy.
We’ve all seen it happen. An elder, or a worship leader gets up and prays. And in the “moment” of spontaneous prayer ends up saying something Arian, or something Docetic, or something gnostic. Words matter, and the fact that the authors of liturgical texts have prayed and thought through the precise use of each word and what they are conveying, demonstrates that the words we say as a Church are deep, rich, meaningful and purposeful.

It connects us with 2,000 years of Christian worship. As I read the Patristic Fathers, in particular, I am struck by those aspects of early Christian worship that are still affirmed today. Take an early worship manual like Hippolytus’: Here is a liturgy that was written in the 3rd century that continues to be used even if just in snippets nearly 2,000 years later. Through liturgy, be it word or practice, we enter into something bigger than ourselves, bigger than our generation. Sure we may find ways to make it contemporary or “relevant”, but we don’t need to reinvent the wheel each and every time we do church.

Liturgy happens even when it’s not explicitly called liturgy.
Let’s face it, even the most charismatic, free-flowing churches have some kind of liturgy. It may not be written down, but it’s done pretty much the same way every week. Heck, even “extemporaneous” prayers are often repetitive and follow a liturgical pattern each time: You pray for the needs of those who are sick; you pray for the missions fields; you pray for outreach; you pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the church board as they make decisions regarding the church; you pray for the Holy Spirit to bless the congregation and to make his presence known. Rinse and repeat every week, even if the details are a little bit different each time.

Liturgy is not just a religious thing.
Liturgy happens all around us. How we orient our lives, our years, our weeks, happens in a fairly standard pattern. Since it is now September, take the academic school year. September is the “start of the year”. There is anticipation in August for it as school supplies and new clothes are bought. And then, the day after Labour Day, the parents walk the kids to their first day of school. It’s a rite of passage. And each year for the next 13 (or more) yearsthe students participate in the liturgy of the first day of school. They meet their teachers. They find their desks. They make new friends. They reconnect with old friends. Their days become structured around the school schedule 9-3. Fridays become an important day that anticipates the weekend. We don’t say that this liturgy is boring because we’ve done it every year. Instead, each new year it is approached with both the comfort of the structure, and the newness that the student is another year older and the liturgy of the school year will not so much be the same old, same old, as it will be a deeper experience of a ritual that takes on new meaning and new life each time it happens. And even if there are those of us who dislike school and shed the liturgy of the school year as soon as we can, we still come back to it and put our children in it, so that it can shape and mold them as it shaped and molded us.

Liturgy, be it Christian or secular, profoundly shapes us. It demonstrates a telos or goal of the good life that we aim to achieve. Because we are embodied creatures, what we do affects what we believe. It shapes how we think, how we feel, how we look at the world. James Smith, in his book Desiring the Kingdom, argues that liturgy is important because humans are primarily desiring creatures, over against thinking creatures (Rene Descartes “I think therefore I am”) or believing creatures (the Reformed worldview emphasis). Liturgies, he writes, “are ritual practices that function as pedagogies of ultimate desire.” (87). Liturgy, and particularly liturgy as found in the practice of Christian worship, is “embodied and material.” (152)

And so, even those who chafe at the thought of liturgy in Church, who balk at the use of liturgical texts on a weekly basis, are being profoundly shaped by the liturgy of being anti-liturgy. Smith asks a brilliant question that every Christian congregation, liturgical or not, should ask itself: What does worship say about Christian faith? (134) If you were to sit in on a service at another Christian denomination what would their service say about what they believe? If a stranger were to come into your church and sit in on a worship service, what would he take away from the service about what your church believes and what it means to be Christian?

(While I am deeply indebted to James Smith’s book, stay tuned for an upcoming post where I strongly disagree with some of the assertions he makes).

The Future of The Anglican Communion

I’ve decided to round up links regarding the recent US Episcopal General Convention, and what its decisions mean for the future of the worldwide Anglican Communion. I’ve blogged before about how I’m reading and listening and trying to understand about the tensions that exist in the worldwide communion and whether it is inevitable that the fragile Communion will fracture.

A quick recap of what happened at the Convention: The Episcopal Church voted to endorse the local option for parishes and priests to celebrate and perform same-sex blessings. While they did not change the definition of marriage, as it would have been a complicated endeavour to change the language of the Book of Common Prayer, these new rites are parallel and share many common features of the marriage rite.

The Diocese of South Carolina walked out of the Convention floor in protest of the resolutions passed:

“These resolutions in my opinion,” said Lawrence, “are disconcerting changes to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church–to which every bishop, priest and deacon is asked to conform. More importantly they mark a departure from the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this Church has received them, therein making it necessary for me to strongly differentiate myself from such actions.”

As well, a group presented the Convention with the Indianapolis Statement, a document that officially dissented from the decision of the Convention’s decision:

“The liturgy entitled ‘The Witnessing and Blessing of a Lifelong Covenant’ is for all practical purposes same-sex marriage. It includes all of the essential elements found in a marriage rite: vows, an exchange of rings, a pronouncement, and a blessing. We believe that the rite subverts the teaching of the Book of Common Prayer, places The Episcopal Church outside the mainstream of Christian faith and practice, and creates further distance between this Church and the Anglican Communion along with other Christian churches.
“Our dissent from this action of the 77th General Convention is thus rooted in the teachings of our own Church; in the historic biblical and theological witness upon which those teachings rest; and in the wider context of the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church and our conviction that no part of the Church is free on its own to alter basic Christian teaching…”

(The full text of the statement can be found here).

Daniel Martins notes that there is a small silver lining in the vote to approve the rite:

“It could have been worse. In the Committee 13 debate this morning, we were able to greatly strengthen the language that not only gives bishops the authority to prohibit use of the rite in their diocese, but offers both clergy and laity concrete safeguards to protect them from retribution or canonical impairment because of this position on same-sex marriage–in the case of clergy, refusal to preside at this rite. I have been abundantly clear in the Diocese of Springfield that this form, or anything like it, will not be authorized for use.”

Other mainstream coverage:
CNN
Reuters
Christianity Today

The full-text of the liturgy that was approved can be found here, at the bottom of the article.

So the question is, what does this action mean for the larger Anglican Communion? Other members of the Communion have called for the Episocopal (and Canadian) churches to pause and not continue on this push for the sake of Christian unity. On the other hand, the Episcopal churches have basically said that Christian Unity means that the rest of the Communion should let them do this and to not interfere in this “local option.” Churches and an entire diocese have left to join a new Anglican network under the authority of the Southern Cone, and have been called ‘schismatics’ for failing to uphold Christian unity. But one has to wonder if the Episcopal Church is the true schismatic for wielding Christian unity as a weapon of manipulation and defiance.

The Anglican Curmudgeon says that this Convention has opened the door to Liturgical Anarchy:

“Do whatever your own Bishop may choose to approve in his or her own Diocese. It can be this liturgy, for example; or it can be something someone else has written for this liturgically undefinable occasion, as long as the Bishop says, ‘That’s fine.’ Or it can be no such rites or liturgies whatsoever, if the Bishop says that. Whatever — just go with it, pewsters.”

Beliefnet News asks “Why is the Episcopal Church Near Collapse?” and traces the decline of membership in the Episcopal Church in the last 40 years. The article suggests that the resolutions passed at this Convention are not surprising given the free-fall that the Church has been in:

But few observers were surprised by the transgender and same-sex resolutions. A few years ago, the annual national Episcopal convention overwhelmingly refused even to consider a resolution affirming that Jesus Christ is Lord. Upon returning home from that meeting, Bishop Peter H. Beckwith, leader of the Springfield, Illinois, diocese, wrote in a pastoral letter that the Episcopal church was “in meltdown.”

Conservative Anglicans are also asking, how should GAFCON respond to the latest developments:

The Communion lies becalmed and rudderless like a ship after a storm. The Archbishop of Canterbury can no longer gather the Communion and the Standing Committee of the Anglican Consultative Council has announced that it has no set time frame for the adoption of the Covenant. What was once held to be ‘the only show in town’ is dead even though it officially lives.
How does the GAFCON movement respond now? During the storm it provided a lifeboat for those orthodox Anglicans who were tossed over the side, but now there is an opportunity to get the ship under way again by being a catalyst for the renewal and godly unity of the whole Communion. The preparatory documents for the 2008 GAFCON Conference referred to a fork in the road, but how do we understand that road?

The Christian Science Monitor is also asking what this will mean for the future of the worldwide Communion:

“It means the Episcopal Church is now separating itself that much more from the Anglican Communion,” says Hood College historian David Hein, co-author of “The Episcopalians,” a standard history of the church. “The American Episcopal Church is trying to set itself up as a separate denomination, although they would claim that they’re not.”

Bishop Katherine Jefferts Schori announced at a press conference that the Episcopal Church is well-positioned for the future:

At this convention, “you have seen the Episcopal Church not only of the future, but of today, in the presence of young adults, a more significant number than we’ve seen in a long time, people of many nations and tribes and language traditions,” said Jefferts Schori, noting that more than 40 international guests attended convention. “The Episcopal Church is healthy, it’s becoming healthier, and it’s poised for an even more significant impact on the world around us. There’s no stopping us. Watch out world. We’re coming.”

I haven’t seen anyone write on this yet, but I’m wondering how the results of the US Convention will impact the decision of who is chosen as the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

p.s. check out this post In Praise of Episcopalians:

I’m proud of The Episcopal Church for the conclusion at which they arrived as well. As far as I’m concerned in all matters theological, when in doubt err on the side of generosity. When in certainty, do the same. Generosity, humility, full inclusion of all God’s Creation…If there’s a “come to Jesus” moment one day I’d rather be told I was too generous than too stingy with the love of God

Some Thoughts on Anglican-Catholic Relations

In January 2011, the Anglican diocese of Qu’Appelle and the Catholic archdiocese of Regina signed a statement of covenant. This covenant upheld the common faith between the two dioceses and outlined specific ways the two dioceses would work together for the sake of Christian unity. These ways included an annual service of reconciliation between the two dioceses, praying for each other’s churches and their mission, working together on First Nations issues, and continuing to commit to communication and consultation with each other.

This local covenant between two dioceses in Saskatchewan continues the ongoing Anglican-Catholic dialogue that has happened at a global level. Since 1968, in light of Vatican II, and with the publication of the Malta Report, the Anglican Communion and the Catholic Church have met regularly to discuss issues of theology and doctrine. While there have been some points of agreement, there are still areas where the two churches have very different doctrines (e.g., the role of the Virgin Mary in the life of the Church). There have also been concessions to Catholic doctrine on the part of the Anglican Communion. For example, the Unity, Faith and Dialogue report of 1981 includes a statement that “we nevertheless agree that a universal primacy will be needed in a reunited Church and should appropriately be the primacy of the bishop of Rome…”

Despite four decades of dialogue, there are also signs of strain in the relationship between Catholics and Anglicans given the current trend of the liberalizing of the faith within the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Anglican Church of Canada. In response to the liberal and politically-motivated decisions of several dioceses (e.g., The Diocese of New Westminister in British Columbia and the Diocese of Niagara in Ontario), the Vatican has issued an invitation for Anglican parishes to “cross the Tiber” and join the Roman Catholic Church through a special dispensation called an Ordinariate. This arrangement allows for Anglican parishes to keep their own liturgy and prayer books, as well as keep their own priests, even those who are married. These parishes come under the authority of a Catholic bishop and are received as members into the Holy Catholic faith. This invitation, while it has been accepted by a handful of Canadian parishes, does not necessarily solve the problems that are currently occurring in the Anglican Communion.

Historically, the Anglican Church has had a colourful relationship the Catholic Church. It has been suggested that the birth of the Anglican Church was “an accident” caused by a clash of politics and religion in an attempt to secure the lineage of the Tudor family.

Henry VIII, though Catholic, needed to reform some of the laws of the Catholic church in order to have his marriage to Catherine of Aragon annulled, as she had been unable to give birth to a male heir. His political needs did not mean that his theology was anti-Catholic. In fact, his 1521 book, defending the sacraments of the Catholic Church and criticizing the theology of Martin Luther, was so thoroughly a defense of Catholicism that Pope Leo X honoured him with the title “Defender of the Faith.” But Henry chose Protestant-minded allies to push his reform, including Thomas Cromwell and Thomas Cranmer (who would become Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533), and some of Henry’s decrees seemed to support the Protestant cause, including changes to the church calendar, and the edict that every church was to have an English Bible. It would appear that the break with Rome was complete by 1534, and yet, in 1539, with the publication of the Six Articles, Henry affirmed a Catholic theology of transubstantiation, confession, and the requirement that clergy be celibate. In 1543, he passed the Act for the Advancement of True Religion that severely restricted the Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers, by declaring that only certain classes of people were allowed to interpret the Scriptures.

The pendulum would swing back towards a more Reformed, Protestant theology within the Anglican Church during the reign of Edward VI with the repeal of the Six Articles, the drafting of the Forty-Two Articles and the publication of The Book of Common Prayer. But this shift was short-lived and many of the Protestant doctrines were repealed under the reign of Mary I, a Catholic.

But what is most interesting is that, under Elizabeth I, the pendulum did not swing fully back to Protestant theology, and instead the via media (middle way) was born. Elizabeth would not allow ardent Protestants like John Knox to exert too much influence over her reign, and she continued to advocate for the middle way. The Forty-Two Articles were replaced with the more moderate Thirty-Nine Articles which, though Protestant in theology, allowed for some Catholic elements like the use of clerical robes. On the other hand, under Elizabeth, the via media gave believers the freedom “to interpret doctrinal statements and patterns of worship in the manner they saw fit.” Richard Hooker, for example, advocated for via media between Catholics and Puritans in his book The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. And yet, at the same time, the Church of England made it clear that, in being a “middle way,” it was still distinct from the Roman Catholic Church (This can be seen, for example, in John Jewel’s Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae: Or, The Apology of the Church of England) and in 1559, the Act of Supremacy was passed, which declared that the Pope’s authority was no longer recognized in England.

Today, the Anglican Church continues to be a “middle way,” neither Catholic nor Protestant; it is instead a tradition of its own, influenced by both. It has developed three general streams within it: evangelical, Catholic and liberal. The question is whether or not the Communion can continue to hold these three in unity. And while Anglicans and Catholics have continued since Vatican II to build bridges of communion and dialogue, the acceptance of the Vatican’s offer to conservative Anglo-Catholic congregations to leave the Anglican Communion and join the Roman Catholic Church demonstrates that there are cracks in the “middle way.” (Not to mention that conservative evangelical parishes are choosing to withdraw and realign under the authority of African and South American dioceses rather than stay under the authority of their North American bishops.) Mark Noll argues that the Anglican-Catholic dialogues, while successful in creating unity on theological issues, ultimately failed to produce ecclesial unity because they “could not agree on populist practices in the day-to-day lives of their churches, in particular, divorce, birth control, and the ordination of women.”

I wrote this little post because I am wrestling with the question, “What is the future of the Anglican Church?” Given the actions of dioceses like New Westminster and Niagara, conservative Anglican parishes have three options: to join the Anglican Network in Canada, which is under the authority of the Province of the Southern Cone, to join the Ordinariate established by the Roman Catholic Church, or to stay the course within the denomination. The diocese of Qu’Appelle is one of the evangelical, orthodox and conservative dioceses left in the Anglican Church of Canada, and with the retirement of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Anglican Communion is about to undergo a shift. Without trying to sound too fatalistic, some sort of schism could happen, and the question is going to become, “What does it mean to be Anglican?” And so, while it is really good that the diocese of Qu’Appelle has entered into covenant with the Catholic diocese, and has actively sought to coordinate their efforts in proclaiming the Gospel throughout southern Saskatchewan, at a larger level, the Anglican via media is cracking, and I cannot help but wonder if it the covenant is going to be for naught, seeing as how the Anglican Communion, and the Anglican Church of Canada in particular, are probably about to be redefined.

REFERENCES:

Healey, Robert. “Waiting for Deborah: John Knox and Four Ruling Queens.” Sixteenth Century Journal XXV, no. 2 (1994): 371–386.

Holder, R. Ward. Crisis and Renewal: The Era of the Reformations (Westminster History of Christian Thought). Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2009.

Hooker, Richard. The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity. Glasgow: George Routledge and Souns, 1888.

Jewel, John. Apologia Ecclesiae Anglicanae: Or, The Apology of the Church of England … London: J. Bowyer, 1720.

Latourette, Kenneth Scott. A History of Christianiy: Reformation to the Present. Vol. 2. 2 vols. Peabody: Prince Press, 2000.

LeMarquand, Grant, Alister McGrath, James Packer, and John Paul Westin. “Anglicanism Today: The Path to Renewal.” In Anglican Essentials: Reclaiming Faith Within the Anglican Church of Canada, edited by George Egerton, 53–63. Toronto: Anglican Book Centre, 1995.

Noll, Mark. Is the Reformation Over? An Evangelical Assessment of Contemporary Roman Catholicism. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2005.

Another Adventure in Anglicanism

It just feels like Anglicanism at every level is in the process of change. And the fact that it’s all happening at the same time is a little overwhelming, especially to someone who is new to the Anglican tradition.
At our church, we’ve spent a year looking for a new priest, and so watching how the process of calling a priest to a congregation is fascinating. Our new priest starts in August. We’ve been without a priest for nearly a year. I’m impressed with how well the wardens and the lay leaders of the church kept everything running during this time of searching, prayer and evaluating the future of this little church. And, what is cool, is our new priest has a PhD in New Testament! (see my previous post: What would it look like if more pastors had Phds)

Change. Transition. New opportunities. Uncertainty. Flux.

It was announced yesterday that our bishop has been elected to be bishop of another diocese. I had just met him and had a wonderful conversation with him May about some of the concerns and questions I have about the Anglican Church in Canada. I came away from that conversation feeling comfortable with stepping my toes into the Anglican stream and not feeling like I was diving into the United Church 2.0. (I lived through the United Church blowup in the 80’s and I don’t fancy doing that again). With the bishop leaving it raises several questions: what does this mean for our diocese? Will we get a new bishop who was as orthodox as our bishop was? A few of my friends are in the process of ordination and I wonder what this will mean for their journey. Does ordination get put on hold until the new bishop is installed?

Change. Transition. New opportunities. Uncertainty. Flux.

And of course, on the global level, the Archbishop of Canterbury is retiring, and the political machine has started as the Church gears up to call a new ABC. Whoever is called will define the future of Anglicanism especially given the tensions and cracks that are threatening the unity of the church.

Change. Transition. New opportunities. Uncertainty. Flux.

Sitting in church on Sunday, I was struck by how many of the congregants are “grey hairs”. It’s at least 60%, if not 75%. What is this little church going to look like in 10 years? I lived through a church that literally “died out” because it had a majority senior population. Will that happen to our little church?

The deconsecration of a rural Anglican church in the Diocese of Toronto made the mainstream news this week. It is closing because it is too small to be viable for the diocese.

There are a whole bunch of little churches throughout Saskatchewan. As the population shifts to the urban centres, Saskatoon, Regina, etc, it’s probably inevitable that this will end up happening across this province and diocese, especially since there’s a shortage of priests in Saskatchewan.

Change. Transition. New opportunities. Uncertainty. Flux.

A Few More Canadian Christian Blogs

James Pedlar‘s blog. James is a doctoral student at Wycliffe at UofT and also teaches part-time at Tyndale and Booth University College.

Bubs Blurbs by Donald McKenzie. Donald is an Anglican Priest in the Diocese of Rupert’s Land.

The ever-growing list of Canadian Christian blogs can be found here.

Another Adventure in Anglicanism

In my free time (?!) I have been trying to read more about the Anglican Church. I have regularly blogged about my adventures in Anglicanism, and how much I am enjoying the liturgy, and most importantly, the practice of taking communion every week. But, as much as I like St. Aidan, I look past the local congregation to the Anglican Church of Canada and the global communion and it seems that what is happening at the national/international level is so disconnected from what I see at the local level of the little parish in Moose Jaw.

So, I’ve been reading three books. First, is Anglican Essentials: Reclaiming Faith Within the Anglican Church of Canada. Though this book is now 17 years old, the issues that it wrestles with are still the same issues that the Church is wrestling with today. Topics include, What does it mean to be Anglican in a pluralistic country? Who is Jesus? What authority does the Bible have in the Anglican church? What does Anglican worship look like? What does the Anglican Church say about sexual ethics? How does the Anglican Church do evangelism and mission? These essays are from a conference that was held in 1994 to address the future of the Anglican Church of Canada. George Eggerton writes this in opening chapter:

‘The theologies and praxis of liberalism and progressives have not brought renewed mission or cultural relevance to Canadian mainline churches. As institutions they at best remain in survival/maintenance mode and at worst face Bibby’s predicted demise. Bibby’s studies demonstrate the low levels of Christian faith, knowledge, practice, and participation in Canada…Further accommodations of cultural liberalism will result in deepening theological division, polarization, and probable schism. As with our sister denomination, the United Church, many will leave, or separate to form dissident congregations. The result, God forbid, would leave the Anglican Church of Canada mortally wounded and ill-equipped to face a new century.’ (23)

Second, is The Fate of Communion: The Agony of Anglicanism and the Future of a Global Crisis. This book has been extremely helpful in laying the groundwork for understanding the Anglican Covenant that has been proposed (and it looks like defeated?). Ephraim Radner and Philip Turner look at the actions of the Diocese of New Westminster and the Episcopal Church in the US and how their decisions impacted the larger Anglican Communion. It also explains The Windsor Report a foundational document for the Anglican Covenant. Radner and Turner, most importantly weigh the relationship between the global communion and the ‘local option’ and the question of authority and discipline work in the Anglican Church. Ultimately, the question is, what is the definition of communion? Is it a broader body to whom each diocese is responsible to and has to listen to (and accept correction from), or is it merely a body of federated churches who can each do their own thing without regard for others in the larger communion? From the book:

‘Within a given diocese, almost any change in belief and practice can occur without penalty. Three justifications are given for such laissez-faire practice. One I have mentioned; namely, the claim of the prophet’s mantle by the innovators. Claim a new thing—one that need have no perceivable link to the past practice of the church…Backed by claims of prophetic and Spirit-filled insight, each diocese can justify its action as a ‘local option.’ Local option within ECUSA is a term that refers to the right of a diocese or parish to go its own way (in contradistinction to common practice and belief) if there seem strong enough internal reasons to do so.’ (247)

Third, is Anglican Communion in Crisis. This book takes an anthropological approach to analyze the interesting relationship between conservative (or ‘dissident’) Anglicans in North America and the leadership in the African churches. In particular, how submitting to the authority of the bishops in Africa is reshaping the Anglican tradition in North America. The relationship between these two bodies demonstrates that the issues that face one component of the Communion (i.e., The ECUSA and ACOC) is not merely an internal issue, but has global consequences. The author writes:

‘This North/South movement opposing Episcopal Church policies is both conservative and globalist, challenging the assumptions of many scholars of global movements that globalism and progressivism are intrinsically linked…Furthermore, the globalization produced by this orthodox Anglican movement is not limited in its impact to leaders and activists, nor is it merely a process of Westernization, an exporting of American conflicts to Southern locales. This movement’s globalizing work has shaped the thoughts and lives of Anglican clergy and laity around the world, from the middle-class white Americans of St. Timothy’s who now regularly discuss news from Africa, to the Ugandan laity who now see their church as challenging Northern global dominance, and whose new cows, coffee fields, or church buildings may result from the generosity of Northern conservative partners.’ (pg 242-243)

I still don’t know what to make of it all, but I will continue reading…in my free time (?!). Anybody have any suggestions of other books that would be helpful to understand all of this?

Easter Week Services

If you live in the southern Saskatchewan area and are looking for some Easter week services, here is what is going on at St. Aidan Anglican Church in Moose Jaw:

Palm Sunday Celebration

Sunday, April 1, 10:30 a.m.

Holy Tuesday
Taize Service 7 p.m.

Holy Wednesday
Tenebrae, 7 p.m. (Psalms and readings marking the themes of despair and darkness just before Jesus’ ultimate victory over death.)

Maundy Thursday
Agape Meal 6 p.m.
Holy Eucharist with Foot-Washing 7 p.m.

Good Friday
Stations of the Cross 10 a.m.
Celebration of the Lord’s Passion 3 p.m.

Easter Sunday, April 8
Lighting of the New Fire, blessing of the Paschal Candle and select readings from the Great Vigil 7:30 a.m.
Full breakfast after the service 8 a.m.
Easter Sunday Celebration of the Lord’s Resurrection with Holy Eucharist at 10:30 am

Anglican Week — Writers Who Influenced My Walk

It’s interesting to look back through my sixteen years as a Christian and to see how many of the writers and scholars who helped deepened my faith were Anglicans. Why is that? I don’t know. But I think it might have something to do with the fact that Anglicanism encourages the life of the mind, and does not promote an anti-intellectualism that is common with other forms of Christianity.

In the first year after I became a Christian I devoured books by C.S. Lewis. Mere Christianity. The Great Divorce. The Problem of Pain. And then someone pointed out that he was the author of the Narnia series that I had grown up reading, so I went back and read them again. (How did my atheist dad let me read Narnia? Aslan is so very much a Christ character.) My favourite book: The Screwtape Letters.

As I began studying theology in college, I was introduced to the writings of Alister McGrath, and I continue to put his newest books on my ever-growing “to read” list. (Have you seen how many books he has published the last couple of years? It’s hard to keep up!). My favourite book: The Passionate Intellect: Christian Faith and the Discipleship of the Mind.

Speaking of my ever-growing “to read” list, I’ve added some books by John Polkinghorne. Polkinghorne explores the relationship between science and faith, and at some point I would like to get into that literature.

And of course, I think the Anglican author that has had the biggest impact on my faith is N.T. Wright. From his Christian Origins and the Question of God series, to his interaction with John Piper on the issue of justification, and of course his books written to a broader audience, my theology has been profoundly challenged and shaped by Dr. Wright. My two favourite books: After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters and Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection and the Mission of the Church.

So who is your favourite Anglican writer?

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So ends Anglican Week here at Cheese-Wearing Theology. I hope you enjoyed it. A big shout out of thanks to Dell, Erin and Dustin who contributed posts. Now back to our regularly scheduled program!

Anglican Week — A Few Anglican Blogs

A few Anglican blogs from a variety of countries and perspectives.

Anglican Essentials. This is also a Canadian Christian blog.

Creedal Christian by Bryan Owen. Bryan currently serves as the Canon for Parish Ministry at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Cathedral in Jackson, Mississippi.

Fr. Jonathan’s blog.


Crusty Old Dean
by Tom Ferguson. Tom currently serves as Dean of Bexley Hall Seminary, one of the eleven accredited seminaries of the Episcopal Church.

Musings of a Hardline Moderate by Carson Clark. Check out one of his recent posts on The Question of Ultimate Commitments Raised by AMiA’s upheaval.


Refractions
by Doug Chaplin. Check out his post Anglicans and the Authority of Scripture.


New West Anglican Blog
from the diocese of New Westminister.

Thinking Anglicans.

Anglican Samizdat by David Jenkins.

KiwiAnglo Blog. A blog from New Zealand.

Preludium by Mark Harris. Mark is a priest in the Episcopal diocese of Delaware.


What Anglican blogs are you reading?

Anglican Week — From Steep Learning Curve to Blessing

One of the biggest challenges we had when we first started attending the Anglican church was the prayer book. The prayer book, in this case the Book of Alternative Service, is THE book that is used in the service. It contains all the prayers and liturgy. And so for the first several months, Chuck and I would be madly scrambling through the green book trying to figure out where we were supposed to be. It helped that the church bulletin had the order of service printed in it, along with the page numbers where we were supposed to turn, but it was still a challenge. And then, add on top of that the hymnal and the pew Bible, and we ended up trying to balance three books open to different pages all at the same time.

I didn’t understand why we had to flip/skip through so many pages in the prayer book. Why were we starting on page 190 and then jumping ahead thirty pages? And then flip back to page 200, and so forth. The format didn’t make any sense. And so, finally, I took a BAS home and started reading from the beginning. I couldn’t believe how much stuff was in this little book!

I wish I had had this video when I was so confused over the prayer book. This is probably the clearest (and shortest) presentation of the contents of the prayer book. In this video, he’s talking about the Book of Common Prayer, but the content and structure is basically the same to the BAS.

As we became more familiar with the prayer book, three things happened: First we eventually stopped clumsily navigating the prayer book. We learned when we didn’t have to necessarily flip pages, that sometimes only the priest had to flip pages to say a collect (prayer), while we could stay on the page we were at. Second, we began to memorize parts of the liturgy, which allowed us to not open the prayer book at all in certain parts of the service. Third, it became a valuable resource that helped structure our family devotions.

I have written about our family devotions before, but to sum up, we’ve adapted the Evening Prayer service to become our family devotional time. We regularly say the Apostles’ Creed (or ‘Hear O Israel’ to change it up a little bit). We sing the Lord’s Prayer, and we follow the Daily Office Scripture readings. It has given our family devotion time structure and continuity, and it has been the longest lasting devotion time in our house. We’ve tried umpteen different devotional systems/books and none of them have lasted more than a few weeks. Not only has using the Prayer book stuck, it has also produced some amazing fruit. Here is just an example of the devotional fruit that has resulted from using the prayer book.

Do you use a prayer book like the BAS or Book of Common Prayer? What do you like about it?