Altar Call | The North American Anglican

“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…”

Source: Altar Call | The North American Anglican

“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!

 

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Weekly Communion?

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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 bells
Can with this single Truth compare:
That God was Man in Palestine,
And lives today, in Bread and Wine.
– Sir John Betjeman, “Christmas”

A tale of two eras – Fr. Robert Hart | The Continuum

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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…

Source: The Continuum: A tale of two eras

“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.)

Post-Pascha Reminder: Easter Is Not a Pagan Holiday | Patheos.com

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“No, Easter isn’t derived from the name of the Babylonian fertility goddess, Ishtar, nor any pagan festival. But even if it were, so what?”

Source: Post-Pascha Reminder: Easter Is Not a Pagan Holiday | Patheos.com

It is rare for Christians on the Puritan / fundamentalist side of the spectrum, Neopagans, and atheists to agree on anything, but one thing many (though not all) do agree on is that Easter, like Christmas, was originally a Pagan holiday that was wrongfully adopted / borrowed / swiped from the Pagans.

“You stole our holiday(s)!” complain the neo-Pagans. “You shouldn’t celebrate Easter / Christmas, it’s a Pagan holiday!” complain the neo-Puritans. “Ha, ha! Christians are so dumb they celebrate Pagan holidays and think they’re theirs,” chortle (some of the less-knowledgeable and less-charitable) atheists.

Well, they may be in rare agreement, but they’re all wrong… Continue reading “Post-Pascha Reminder: Easter Is Not a Pagan Holiday | Patheos.com”

IC XC NIKA – Jesus Christ conquers!

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Jesus Christ conquers!

Jesus Christ is victorious!

Jesus Christ is Lord!

As the “Word Incarnate” blog explains it,

IC XC are abbreviations (in both Greek and Slavonic) for the name Jesus Christ. NIKA is a Greek verb that means ‘conquers’ (perhaps ‘is victorious’ is better, though not as grammatically accurate).”

And of course, the sigil in the laurel-wreath, surmounted by a crown, is the Chi Rho, another monogram of Christ, being the first letters of that divine name – CH + R – in Greek. Although the letters are Greek, they could also be seen as standing for the first initials of “Christus Rex” (Christ the King) in Latin.

I love this image, with the Imperial double eagle as well as the crowned laurel-wreath emphasizing the heavenly Kingship of Christ! And the earthly Kinship as well, of course; for although He said “my Kingdom is not of this world,” during His Incarnation, that was to warn people against thinking that he was a merely earthly monarch, or that the salvation He wrought was merely temporal in nature.

In His essence, He is King of both Heaven and Earth, and while in a temporal sense His reign has not yet come, sub specie aeternitatis – “under the aspect of eternity,” in relation to the eternal, in light of that which is eternally and universally true – His Kingship is likewise both universal and eternal, existing throughout all time and space.

Ave Christus Rex!

 

A Conservative Russian Lion With Real Mass Influence – The Painter Ilya Glazunov | Russian Insider

 

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Source: A Conservative Russian Lion With Real Mass Influence – The Painter Ilya Glazunov

While I’m on Russian Insider: an interesting article on an interesting individual!

“In contrast to the values of the marketplace, [Glazunov] calls for placing spiritual and political ideals in first place. He believes that patriotism, service to society and its head, a monarch, are far more important than filthy lucre.”

Two examples of his paintings will illuminate the point. Continue reading “A Conservative Russian Lion With Real Mass Influence – The Painter Ilya Glazunov | Russian Insider”

The Seven Deadly Sins, and the Seven Holy Virtues

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Source: Northwest Indiana Latin Mass Community

I have been and am, sadly, prone to all of the Seven Deadly Sins at various times in my life, and all too resistant to the Seven Holy Virtues! Of your charity, please pray for me, a sinner.

As an Anglican priest-friend of mine put it, when I posted this on my Facebook page,

We don’t talk about these much, anymore, do we. Too bad. We all need them, as guides to behavior, and most of us don’t even know them.

Amen. We surely do! And Lent is a great time to get back in touch with them! I’m going to try to, myself.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me, a sinner.