In a few weeks’ time, we will engage in a most peculiarly Anglican effort at our Sunday worship service when we invite into our fellowship Bishop David Bena. Bishop Dave is Bishop Julian’s assistant in CANA East, and will be making an episcopal visitation to us on June 29th on Bishop Julian’s behalf. You can learn more about him here.
Bishops are an important part of our common life. They lead in the governance of the church, provide pastoral support and discipline to clergy, and represent in their own persons a vital link between us in the local congregation and the church globally. We may not often see them in our local context, but the spiritual power of a godly bishop has a profound effect on our health as a local part of Christ’s body. We should continually thank God for his provision to us in Bishops Julian and Dave, and we should commit to pray for them often, as we do every Sunday.
In addition to sending diocesan greetings, Bishop Dave will also be performing confirmation for us on Sunday, June 29. Confirmation is a very ancient rite of the universal church. It is one of the ways we enact locally our connection to Anglican bishops everywhere, who together provide oversight for nearly 80 million Christians around the world.
In an effort to prepare for his arrival, starting this Sunday I will be leading a five week study called “Following Christ the Anglican Way.” We at Christ Church are first and foremost Christians, disciples of Jesus Christ. But we have found on our journey with Jesus, who is Lord of all, that the Anglican church provides a fullness of expression to that journey which is unique and worthy of honor. The Anglican church, as one of our members recently told me, is “a good boat to fish out of.” It therefore behooves us to occasionally reorient ourselves to the basic essentials of this boat we call Anglican. My five week course will do just that, and will hit on the following topics:
Session 1- Confirmation and Holy Order in the Church: we will be looking at confirmation as a rite and what it purports to symbolize and enact. We will be looking at its Scriptural foundations, its use in the church historically with a special emphasis on its relation to Baptism, the symbolism of the rite itself, and how the rite relates to the office of bishop as an important element of the life of the universal church.
Session 2- Canons, Creeds, and Councils: Anglicans place a great deal of importance on their connection to the global church in time as well as in space. We will be looking in this session at the most important doctrinal confessions of the ancient church, including the recognition of the biblical canon, which continue to provide guidance for the vast majority of Christians, Anglican and otherwise, alive today.
Session 3- The Book of Common Prayer: Anglicans are unique among Protestants in the role our particular manner of worship takes in our self-understanding. Our worship has been defined for nearly half a millennium by the Book of Common Prayer, a liturgy that is both ancient and culturally adaptive in its orientation. We will be exploring the values which produced and sustained it, and look at its role in our current life.
Session 4- The Thirty-Nine Articles: our prayer book has proved decisive in our common identity, but Anglicans also have a set of propositional statements which guide their understanding of what it means to follow Jesus, the 39 Articles of Religion, published in 1562 under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I. We will be exploring their history, context, and how they function as an authority, under Scripture, for us today.
Session 5- The Anglican Communion and Beyond: in this final session we will be exploring the formation of the global Anglican Communion, how the churches which comprise it see themselves in relation to other Christian traditions, and how recent upheavals are producing a re-alignment within the Communion (including the formation of our own national church, the Anglican Church in North America) whose precise future remains as yet known only to God.
We will meet in the Parlor at Wayne UMC after our Sunday service starting this week, May 18. This course is targeted for those seeking the laying on of hands at confirmation, but all are welcome to join in the conversation as we explore what it means to follow the Lord Jesus Christ the Anglican way.
Blessings in Jesus,