Friday, June 26, 2009

ACNA: Thick and Thin, High and Low

The Anglican Church in North America has just been born. Hallelujiah!

How many wonderful ironies can I find? The news headlines are full of talk about us as "breakaway Episcopalians"... but it is the Episcopal Church that has been generally breaking away from Christianity. We are called "schismatics", but in reality, this is a drawing together of groups that have been splintered by history and circumstance. I'd even call it an "un-schism".

And then there are those crying "doom" over the new union even as it begins.

See, you've got the group called Anglo-catholics. Solemn services, smells and bells, organs and traditional choirs. And you've got the group called Evangelicals. This crowd is known for praise songs, praise bands, and generally letting the worship carry them away, if that's how the Spirit moves them.

The "deal-breaker", according to the naysayers, is that these two groups disagree over the theology of Women's Ordination. And yes, that's a big thing. But as Archbishop Duncan has pointed out, "The main thing is to keep the main thing, the main thing." The Main Thing, for both of these groups, is Christ, of course. But if we only look at what distinguishes each group from the other, is "WO" even on the list of "main things"?

Here's another irony for you:

In the Evangelical "Low Churches",you can experience the heights to which the Spirit can lift the soul. Miracles are worked, and Heaven is praised. The Lord is truly there.

In the Anglo-Catholic "High Churches", you can find the depths of meaning, rich symbols and eternal metaphysical truths, ancient rituals, rich thoughts, and contemplations that will blow your mind. The Lord is truly there.

I remember a C.S. Lewis essay in which he wrote that, in history, religions can be generally divided up (with few exceptions) into "thick" and "thin", the sensation-filled religions on the one side with sacrifices and feasts, and the ascetic religions on the other side, with self-discipline and philosophy. He wrote that God created both mind and stomach, and feeds both.

Having been raised somewhat on the "Anglo-catholic" side of things, I've found my life enriched by experiencing my wife's Evangelical (Black Missionary Baptist) world. And I know at least a few Baptists who have found the richness in Catholic ritual.

The bottom line is, we need to seek first how we can love and enrich each other, and be enriched by each other. After that, my hunch is that the "controversial" issues will be worked out by the Lord. It's His church, after all, if we place ourselves in His hands.

In conclusion, I present the most uplifting video I have seen this week, from BabyBlue, a blogger from one of the CANA churches in Virginia:

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