One of the most amazing facts about living the Christian life is the assurance of bodily resurrection. Our world is not a stranger to new birth, but for most religions that touch on the subject, the one reborn can barely recognize itself, if it can at all!
But in Christ, we who look forward to resurrection know that when we are raised up it will be as transformed yet self-knowing people. We’ll be fully aware of what’s been done for us and who did it! Thank God for his love for us.
One of the most frustrating projects I’m working on is developing a theology that is grounded firmly in an explicitly Anglican tradition and Orthodox perspective. I find myself reading people like Ephraim Radner and Bishop George Sumner, people who see folk like myself as a direct threat to themselves and Christianity itself. I’m reading them because I think their effort to reorient the Episcopal/Anglican tradition in a faithful and Biblical way are essential to reform and renewal and ultimately the survival of this tradition. But when you see their utter disdain, contempt, and despair at the very thought of LGBT people being grafted into the people of God and having their lives fully included, it makes if hard to give the rest of their theological musings a fair hearing. Why have these people let the issue of sexuality become the seat and center of their theological resistance? Why not the abandonment of the Creeds or the neglect of the Thirty-nine Articles, or the devaluation of proselytization? Perhaps this is how freed slaves felt reading theology in the immediate aftermath of Emancipation. So frustrating.
Consecrate yourself to God in the morning; make this your very first work. Let your prayer be, “Take me, O Lord, as wholly Thine. I lay all my plans at Thy feet. Use me today in Thy service. Abide with me, and let all my work be wrought in Thee.” This is a daily matter. Each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day. Surrender all your plans to Him, to be carried out or given up as His providence shall indicate. Thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God, and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ.—(Steps to Christ, 70).
One of the features of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is its inclusion of the Declaration on Kneeling, or Black Rubric, which explains that Anglicans kneeling to receive Communion are not doing so …
I’m currently reading one of the classics of Episcopal Church history, “Men and Movements in the American Episcopal Church”, and am struck by the power, simplicity, piety, and orthodoxy of the first generations of Episcopal clergy and bishops. This history features people like Alex Viets Griswold, Benjamin Moore, Philander Chase, Charles Pettit McIlvaine, John Henry Hobart, all so singularly committed to spreading the Gospel, making disciples, and building up the Episcopal Church according to the Scriptures and the Creeds.
What’s most encouraging to me about what I’m reading is that these people of such passionate and committed Christian faith in the Episcopal Church were coming of age and into ministry at a time when the Episcopal Church seemed on the verge of extinction.Based on where the Episcopal Church was in 1790, the idea that it would still exist in 1840 seemed something of a pipe dream. But personal commitment by faithful individuals to being faithful Anglicans in America was able to reverse the trajectory and bring about steady growth in our communion that lasted a century and a half.
So, I’m encouraged and inspired. I’m also challenged. When reading the story of the early Diocese of Virginia, it seemed like that Church was dead. Few communicants, fewer clergy, and a culture where the church seemed to exist for rich skeptics debating whether God existed or Christianity was ultimately a force for good (sound familiar?).
But the church was kept alive through the personal faithfulness of the laity and a commitment to personal and family devotions centered around the study of Scripture and the Prayer Book. It took over a decade of patient and faithful devotion but it eventually succeeded.
If we as Episcopalians commit ourselves and our families to strong spiritual and devotional lives centered on “the teaching of the Apostles and…the prayers”, we have a great chance to see our history return in the near future.