Thursday, July 23, 2009

On Striving for Christian Unity

How great is our need for an increase of charity, especially when it comes to the household of God. All of us need look more carefully to the sanctification at work in our own life by the Holy Spirit. Our calling to be one in Christ Jesus is in his person, the fullness of God revealed to us. As with Paul, we need to look to the Gospel first preached and not even if Paul should come preaching a new Gospel. If we are to find this unity, we need to turn to the Word of God incarnate as made known to us in Holy Scripture and his Bride, the holy Church—one, catholic and apostolic.
The oneness of the Church is only found in Jesus Christ and any division of fellowship impairs its visibility and operability to be catholic and apostolic. Likewise our division of fellowship distorts our vision of Church authority when members of the body hold themselves apart or to be whole without the full fellowship of the body. So we need to look to God’s self-revelation which is agreed upon all—the authority and reliability of Holy Scripture. It is from the Word of God that unity of the Body springs forth as two or three Christians gathered manifest the presence of Christ because it is inherent in His Holiness, in His Being, not in ours.
For all of Anglicanism problems and failures, I believe it offers a gift to all Christians in its tenet that we hold no doctrine unique to Anglicanism, that is to say, as Anglicans we will only hold to those things believe and practiced by the whole of the Church. What is so sad of our unhappy division is we fail to see how vast is breadth of what we hold in common and how small are those things tend to overwhelm and steer us to further apart.
We must have greater commitment to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It should incumbent upon us to look always to Christ and the love of the brethren. We all need to confess our need to repent for every failure to look first to Christ, personally, in our local fellowship, and in our wider fellowship. It is only in restoring our relationships one to another, as ministers of reconciliation, will sanctification bring us into the reality of the mystical union of the Triune God.
How great is our God!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

New era of Anglicanism in North America

The last two weeks have marked great events in the life of our congregation and in wider Anglicanism. First, the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA)was officially established marking a major step toward the unity of Anglicans in the USA and Canada, but into union with the vast majority of the Anglican Communion throughout the world. We recognize that the two other significant segments of our tradition are taking steps toward the unity to which our Lord Jesus Christ has called us (the Traditional Anglican Communion and the Province of Christ the King). We are also saddened that “The Episcopal Church” continues to walk further apart from the “faith once delivered to the saints.” We have witness in the forming of the ACNA a commitment to work together for the mission of the Church, toward fuller communion, and in continuity with the life and practice of the faith grounded in Holy Scripture. Robert Duncan was elected Archbishop of this new province of the Anglican Communion by the College of Bishops who represent nine founding Church bodies and various jurisdictions, nationally and internationally. Our own bishops, Richard Boyce and Win Mott, have worked these past years toward the unity of Anglicanism. When Anglicans claim they have no doctrines unique to Anglicanism, but only holding to what was received and practiced by the whole of the Church, in all times and in places and by all, we must actualize this reality in a visible unity in Jesus Christ.

Second, Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity hosted the parishes of the Diocese of the West (Reformed Episcopal Church, and now Anglican Church in North America) for its annual gathering for the mission and work of the diocese. The three keynote addresses were on the place Youth as young participants in today's ministry as disciples of Jesus Christ, the prayer book teaching and practice of healing of individuals, for their being made whole and complete human beings, and the future for continuing the greater unity of the Church. We were able to see friends from past Synods and meet folks from new congregation in the diocese. We were especially blessed to have a group from Saint Andrew’s Academy providing music for Mass and Evensong worship. Their group include a couple of graduates, several residential students and even a couple of the boarding school students. What was evident throughout the Synod was how as Anglicans the prayer book embodies our Anglican identity in North America. While we don’t identify with a specific prayer book as a whole, although most use the 1928, we have inherited a form and shape to our common worship. Whether we look to the 1549 BCP, the Sarum Missal, or even a modern language form, we have a “North American” usage which reflects our history as a prayer book Church. As Bishop Boyce pointed out, “the prayer book is only a tool.” Worship is at the center of our being members of the Body, our growing in discipleship, our ministering to one another, and our mission to the world. It is our common prayer tradition that pull it all together. Much of the discussion, formally and informally, revolved around how we make Christ known to others and for Anglicans we come together, in common prayer, to encounter God present. It was interesting to note that in the ACNA our diocese has the highest percentage of earned doctorates among its clergy, but our discussion was about spiritual growth and mission, knowing Christ and making Christ known.