Just gonna leave this here……..
Just gonna leave this here……..
“I began my sacramental education in a rural Baptist church. There, every service ended with an altar call. Music plays as the pastor waits expectantly to receive anyone who is ready to make a decision to follow Christ. The decision, once made, indicates salvation…”
“In the end… I was surprised to find [in the Anglican tradition] every essential feature of my Baptist heritage amplified. The scripture was held up and read aloud. We confessed our sins together. And there at the end of the service was an altar call. In many respects it was the same sort of altar call I had always known: I rose and went up with the same gnawing need for salvation.
“But the differences were vital. I was no longer alone, but walked together with a throng. Instead of going up alone, the whole congregation had deemed itself unworthy, and rose along with me. The altar had a kneeling rail, and a place for my outstretched hands (my approach was expected!). And here at this altar the Lord himself met me, accepted me, fed me with his body and blood, and promised to keep me in everlasting life.
“Above all, the Church did not rebuke the form my Baptist faith had taken, instead she enfleshed it. I had not been wrong to desire to approach the altar again and again. All that was needed was for the Lord to truly meet me there.”
As a sacrament – an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace – the Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion, Lord’s Supper, Divine Liturgy, the Mass) serves many purposes and functions in the life of the Church, and of the individual Christian. One I had not really considered was as an “altar call” (not a regular feature of my Methodist upbringing, but not entirely unknown, either). But it makes sense! A lot of sense.
Precisely when and how one receives one’s salvation, and whether or not one can lose it thereafter, are matters that can be and are debated among Christians (I am inclined to believe “at Baptism, when we become regenerate by water and the Holy Spirit, are received into the Body of Christ, and marked as His own, forever,” and “no, unless one consciously, willfully, and overtly ejects it” – and even then, like the Prodigal Son, one can repent and return to the Lord); but one thing which I think we cannot debate is that we are all in need of both strengthening and reassurance as we walk our Christian journey through life.
The Holy Eucharist provides both, in the Body and Blood of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Thanks be to God!
August 1st is the feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea in the United states (July 31 in the east). His story is one of mystery and tradition…
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
— William Blake, “And did those feet in ancient time? (Jerusalem)“
Today is the commemoration of St. Joseph of Arimathea (as found in “Lesser Feasts and Fasts 1963,” approved for use in the UECNA), who is best known from the Gospel accounts as the one who gave his tomb to be the burial place of our Lord, Jesus Christ, following his crucifixion. The Collect for this day reads:
O MERCIFUL God, by whose servant Joseph the body of our Lord and Saviour was committed to the grave with reverence and godly fear: Grant, we beseech thee, to thy faithful people grace and courage to serve and love Jesus with unfeigned devotion all the days of their life; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
He – Joseph of Armimathea – may have another significance, too, especially for those of us who are of the English tradition. There is a persistent legend that Joseph was not only the recoverer of Jesus’ body, but his uncle, and a tin-merchant with trading contacts as far afield as Cornwall, in what was then the Roman Province of Britannia; and that he took the young Jesus with him on a trip there during the so-called “lost years” of Jesus’ life.
There is even a tradition that when Joseph thrust his thornwood staff into the ground, it took root, flowered, and blossomed, becoming the famous Glastonbury Thorn that survives to this day near the old Abbey of Glastonbury. It is, at any rate, this legendary trip (which cannot be conclusively proven – nor for that matter, disproven) which serves as the inspiration for the lines from the poet William Blake, quoted above, which became the well-known hymn, “Jerusalem”:
Personally, I tend to believe this pious legend – or at least give it the benefit of the doubt – and to consider that there is at least a good chance that “those feet in ancient times” did indeed “walk upon England’s mountains green”! Britain was in ancient and medieval times known as a particularly holy island, and what better reason for that, than that our Saviour did indeed grace “England’s green and pleasant land” with His sacred footsteps?
In any case, wishing you a blessed Feast of St. Joseph of Arimathea!
A Lutheran (Missouri Synod) pastor of my acquaintance posted the following on his Facebook page earlier today:
“Lutherans: regularly-scheduled non-communion Sundays – unless caused by poverty or other physical hardship – are expressly contrary to apostolic practice as recorded in Scripture, violative of our confessions, and only benefit the realm of the demonic.
“It’s like deliberately starving your own children for a week so that they’ll appreciate eating, so they don’t look like the Roman Catholic kids who get regular meals, or because you were similarly abused as a child. Stop it.
“We need to drive a stake through this vampire’s heart.”
I used to regularly experience this in my Methodist days. Somewhat to my surprise, I encounter it from time to time in Anglican circles, as well – and I think it’s a shame. Much though I value the proclamation of the Word (which is, after all, read and preached at every Communion service), and much as I love the beauty of Choral Mattins and Evensong, I think those who speak against the weekly reception of the Holy Communion are sadly astray.
It is, after all, the one thing, other than loving one another, and baptizing in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity, that our Lord emphatically commanded us to do! And for that small minority of Anglicans who can’t seem to embrace anything without the imprimatur of Continental Protestant divines, both Luther and Calvin advocated for the weekly reception of the sacrament of Holy Communion.
If I had the resources to do so, I would offer the Holy Communion (the Holy Eucharist, the Divine Liturgy) every Sunday and Holy Day, if not as the primary service on a given Sunday, then following Mattins, or as an earlier service (a “Morrow Mass,” as it used to be called), for those desiring to receive. The Lord’s Body and Blood should certainly not be withheld, I believe – and least of all on the Lord’s Day – from any baptized Christian who recognizes His presence in it, and wishes to receive!
No love that in the family dwells,No caroling in frosty air,Nor all the steeple-shaking bellsCan with this single Truth compare:That God was Man in Palestine,And lives today, in Bread and Wine.
👑 On this day in 1953, Her Majesty The Queen’s coronation was held at Westminster Abbey.
Source: The British Royalist Society, which writes:
“The Queen was the 39th sovereign to be crowned in the Abbey and the sixth Queen to be crowned there in her own right. The service used for the Queen’s coronation descends directly from King Edgar’s in 973.
“The Sovereign’s procession was made up of 250 people including Church leaders, Commonwealth Prime Ministers, members of the Royal Household, civil and military leaders and the Yeoman of the Guard.
“Her Majesty’s accession to the throne also set history in and of itself. Queen Mary (the Queen’s grandmother) was the first grandmother to see two Sovereigns ascend and Prince Charles was the first child to witness his mother’s coronation as Sovereign. Princess Anne did not attend the ceremony as she was considered to be too young. On a side note, Princess Marie Louise (Queen Victoria’s granddaughter) witnessed four coronations, including that of Elizabeth II.
“129 nations and territories were represented at the coronation with a whopping 8,200 guests were in attendance.
“Read more about the coronation and its importance here.”
[The Anglophilic Anglican notes that the above-linked short essay on the Coronation is quite fascinating and helpful in understanding the significance of this ceremony.]
None of them look terribly happy about it, in this picture – but considering that Her Majesty had come to the crown unexpectedly due to the premature death of her father, King George VI, that is perhaps to be expected.
Nota Bene: I am not certain of the identity of the prelate to the right of Her Majesty; but she was crowned by the Most Reverend and Right Honorable Geoffrey Francis Fisher, then Archbishop of Canterbury. Aside from the Coronation of Her Majesty, he is perhaps most famous for his assertion that
“We [meaning the Church of England, and by extension Anglicans in general] have no doctrine of our own — we only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic creeds, and those creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock.”
The one to the far left, I am quite confident, is then-Bishop of Durham Arthur Michael Ramsey, who became the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury (1961 – 1974), following Fischer: one of the greatest – arguably, the greatest of the 20th century – occupants of that Primatial See. He was known as a gifted theologian, educator, and advocate of Christian unity, and the writer of many books, perhaps most notably his first: The Gospel and the Catholic Church.
Ironically and somewhat amusingly, Fisher – who had been Ramsey’s headmaster at Repton, and known him basically all his life – is said to have counseled Prime Minister Harold Macmillan against selecting Ramsey for approval by Her Majesty as Archbishop of Canterbury, commenting that
“Doctor Ramsey is a theologian, a scholar and a man of prayer. Therefore, he is entirely unsuitable as Archbishop of Canterbury.”
Macmillan reportedly responded,
“Thank you, your Grace, for your kind advice. You may have been Doctor Ramsey’s headmaster, but you were not mine.”
Ramsey was duly selected.
So, what is Rogation Sunday, and Rogationtide (a.k.a., the Rogation Days), anyway…? The lovely Anglican blog, “Full Homely Divinity,” explains:
“The week of the Sixth Sunday of Easter [note: for those of us using the traditional calendar, the Fifth Sunday after Easter] is busy with processions and outdoor activities. The week begins with prayers and celebrations that focus on stewardship of creation and culminates in the great (but lately much-neglected) Feast of the Ascension of our Lord into heaven on the fortieth day of the Paschal Feast.
“The Rogation Days, the Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday before Ascension Day, originated in Vienne, France (not Vienna, Austria), in 470 after a series of natural disasters had caused much suffering among the people. Archbishop Mamertus proclaimed a fast and ordered that special litanies and prayers be said as the population processed around their fields, asking God’s protection and blessing on the crops that were just beginning to sprout.
“The Latin word rogare means ‘to ask,’ thus these were ‘rogation’ processions. In an agricultural society, closely connected with the soil and highly vulnerable to the uncertainties of nature, this was an idea that took root quickly, and the custom spread around Europe and over to Britain. The Sunday before the Rogation Days came to be considered a part of Rogationtide (or ‘Rogantide’) and was known as Rogation Sunday.”
Thus, the blessing of crops, and from that, a more general sense of exercising good, due, and proper stewardship of Creation, is an important part of this day, and this Tide.
Furthermore, there developed in England the concept of “the beating of the bounds,” in which the Rogation Procession made its way around the bounds of the parish, reaffirming a sense of place, and instructing the young in the geography of home, and significant locations, sites, and features within those bounds. Because those boundaries were sometimes transgressed, it also provided an opportunity to reconcile with one’s erring neighbors.
Another excellent blog, “The Homely Hours,” notes,
“George Herbert gave the following reasons to observe the Rogation Days, that are still practical for us today: 1) [asking] a blessing of God for the fruits of the field; 2) Justice in the preservation of the bounds; 3) Charitie, in living, walking and neighbourliy accompanying one another, with reconciling of differences at that time, if they be any; 4) Mercie, in relieving the poor by a liberal distribution of largess which at that time is or oght be made.
The author of that blog, Amanda, further recounts, “I remember the first time I participated in our church’s Rogation Day ‘Beating of the Bounds.’ I was deeply impressed by the way that the Rogation Days took seriously the life of the body in the world.”
So should we all!
For the last few years I have made it clear that Anglicans cannot use the words “Catholic” and “Protestant” to mean two opposite and irreconcilable positions, or even to mean mutually exclusive positions. For us a good Protestant (in the Anglican sense) has to be a good Catholic, and vice versa…
“What really separates English Reformation theology and the Oxford Movement is simply time. It is not a matter of disagreement. Time created its own emergencies, needing doctrinal clarification…
“The strength of Anglicanism today is that we have the restoration of Evangelical truth in our foundation, and we have the fullness of Catholic faith, worship and sacramental practice. We did not obtain this great inheritance by excluding any portion of the Faith of the Universal Church, but by possessing it all.
“One need of our era is to correct the misperceptions of Schools X and Y, and refuse to be pressured into losing part of our wealth by taking unnecessary losses through false choices.”
In my opinion, this essay by Fr. Robert Hart expresses very effectively and persuasively (*) what I believe is the proper balance in the Anglican tradition as truly Reformed Catholic: that is, occupying – dare I say? – an appropriate “Via Media” between the extreme High-Church Anglo-Catholic and extreme Low-Church Evangelical positions.
My recommendation? As I have written many times in this blog, borrowing a line from one of our more famous Prayer Book Collects: “read, mark, learn and inwardly digest“!
(* Despite what, Fr. Hart’s disclaimer / explanation in the comments notwithstanding, I cannot help but think is a slight caricature of the late-medieval, pre-Reformation English Church (I tend to take a more irenic view of Eamon Duffy’s evidence and interpretations)… but only slight.)