Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Resistant

Once upon a time, my priest told me "Baptists make the best parishioners. They don't get hung up over 'we've never done it that way' ." I laughed and told him "well, if we were Baptist who cared about how things had been done our whole lives, we would have stayed Baptist"

Over a year later, I'm visiting a church that's a different branch of the Anglican tree, and his words are a challenge to me. Because I'm really struggling with the differences in liturgy.
I've been told there are three flavors of churches: "High and Crazy", "Broad and Hazy", and "Low and Lazy." My personal beliefs and preferences throw me solidly into the "High and Crazy" category.

Honestly, this is a bit petty. It's the sort of sentiment one expects of people three times my age.
I prefer the 1928 Book of Common Prayer to the current (1979) edition.

Again, it's a bit petty, and almost on par with those who prefer the King James Bible. Madeleine L'Engle agrees with me, unfortunately, she's more than three times as old as I am, and dead also.

I have a friend who says that every time he enters a church that uses the 1928 prayerbook he's tempted to circle article 24 with a red pen:

"It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of the Primitive Church, to have public Prayer in the Church, or to minister the Sacraments, in a tongue not understanded of the people."

He's right.

However, there's a solemn majesty to the 1928 that the 1979 revision lacks. And there are words that I don't like losing.
"Oblation" is much more specific than "sacrifice"
"vouchsafe" is an emphasis on Lordship, and who really is in charge. It's been changed to "promise"
"very members incorporate of the mystical body of thy Son...." is redundant, but the extra emphasis on being "incorporated"/taken into the body of Christ is important to me

And....the thanksgiving just before Communion.
"We do not presume to come to this Thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ and to drink his blood, that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us"

I have absolutely no idea why this was left out of the 1979 Eucharist update. (other than maybe because it sounds a bit cannibalistic?) Believe me, every single Sunday I need to be reminded that I am unworthy to gather up the crumbs under God's table, but nonetheless, Christ dwells in me, and I dwell in Him!!

I even have issues with the modernized Nicene creed.
"one baptism for the remission of sins" vs"one baptism for the forgiveness of sins" - Remission is a stronger word. It implies removal, forgiveness does not.
"Being of one substance with the Father"- this should be a big deal for those of us who believe in consubstantiation. Yes, "of one Being with the Father" covers the basics, but "substance" is a theological term. It's about being inseparable, ontologically united, just as the Eucharist is the very body and blood, divinity and humanity of Christ himself.

And then there's music. Honestly, the music at this church is decent. I'm just annoyed that they use praise songs during Communion. Amazing, beautiful profound Communion hymns are our rightful heritage as Anglicans. Using praise songs (even decent ones) feels like being deprived of a birthright.

Of course, there's also the fact that they believe in two sacraments and I believe in seven.

I am resistant to this different approach, for what I feel to be legitimate reasons. But even so...what role should resistance play in our interactions with the local church?

Corporate worship isn't about personal preferences. It's about shared vision, conviction, hope. Yes, I do believe in one Catholic church....but I believe in one catholic church as well. I am a "stuffy Anglo-Catholic" but hopefully, I can find the grace to see beyond "how it's always been done."






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