25 July 2007

Anglican Insights

Don't think I'll go into great detail about the course work I'm doing here. But here are a few insights that might be of interest:

  • I think of myself and my church as operating from a position of great privilege. I am a rich, white, well-fed American Anglican, after all. But in hearing the stories of my fellow Anglicans, I find that my story is not so different. We have all struggled with faith issues. We have all struggled with our call to the priesthood. The exterior circumstances are greatly different. We have different levels of access to resources. But our interior lives are very surprisingly similar.
  • In an attempt to define Anglicanism, a priest from Papua New Guinea said, "There are no locked doors in Anglicanism."

  • A priest from Zambia said, "An Anglican is someone who celebrates life while on the way to heaven."

  • A priest from Nigeria asked, "Is my faith born out of conviction or condition?" His answer went something like, "If it is conditional, changes will cause me to loose my faith. If it is born of conviction, I can leave my culture and language be swallowed up to serve others."
  • A priest from India noted, "Comfort is a hindrance to hearing God. Like Buddha, Moses had to leave the Pharaoh's palace to hear God calling him."
  • From Evelyn Underhill: "The two things the laity want from the priesthood are spiritual realism and genuine love of souls."

  • Canterbury and Kent share a root which means 'boundary'. Kent is on the edge of England and the sea, and Canterbury exists at the edges where the churches of the Anglican Communion meet as one.
A brief exchange in Bible Study re: Ruth, Naomi that may have really been about what's going on in the Anglican Communion now:

  • Me: "Ruth defied Naomi's admonition to walk apart from her and to return home. Ruth had become Naomi's family and she would not relinquish those family bonds. She stayed with Naomi though Naomi asked her not to."
  • A priest from Burundi: "Ruth submitted herself to Naomi, and put away her own land and language and took on Naomi's. She put aside her own self for the sake of the larger whole."
Recommendations from Barney Hawkins' course on Christian Leadership:

  • Find time to be idle with scripture and tradition

  • Remember the importance of the ordinary

  • Live near the edge, on the border -- not always at the center.
Some of the things that we've done these past days have been:

  • Excellent bibles studies each morning that never fail to open my eyes to a way of seeing scripture.

  • A great introduction to Anglicanism as it is lived at Canterbury by Canon Ed Condry.

  • Some great sessions from Prof. Barney Hawkins on Christian Leadership -- really informative and important.

  • Sessions from the Rt. Rev. Josiah Fearon, Archbishop of Kaduna in the Church of Nigeria on Islam -- along with some revelations from the sometimes restive borderline where Christianity and Islam meet.

  • A session on a "mission-shaped" church from the Rt. Rev. Graham Cray, Bishop of Maidstone of the Church of England. (I found myself in disagreement with Bp. Cray on a few points. It was nonetheless informative to see that some evangelicals really do speak with British accents.)

  • A Candlelight Pilgrimage through the cathedral at night that ended in a circle gathered on the spot where St. Thomas Beckett's Shrine once stood. We all offered prayers in our own languages, which was amazing. One after another prayers were repeated in all the languages of our group. Mine went something like:

Mother-Father God, we offer our thanks for our ancestors in faith, the generations upon generations of faithful hearts who have passed the story of salvation on to us. With all of us from every corner of the world gathered here, we pray for peace in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in every corner of the earth -- and in every human heart. These things we pray in the name of the One God who is our creator, our redeemer and our
sustainer. Amen.

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