Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Forty Years Long...

The four leading bishops are pictured above, from left to right, the Rt. Rev. Paul Hewitt (DHC), the Most Rev. Walter Grundorf (APA), the Most Rev. Dr. Mark Haverland (ACC), and the Most Rev. Brian Marsh (ACA). 

As promised, I write my reflections on the 2017 Joint Anglican Synods. For those not knowing what it was, the Anglican Diocese of the Holy Cross (DHC), the Anglican Province in America (APA), the Anglican Church in America (ACA), and the Anglican Catholic Church (ACC) came together last week in Atlanta Georgia. Each jurisdiction held the business sessions necessary to a provincial synod separately, inasmuch as those meetings are about all sorts of specific things, many of which are put to a vote, some involving budgets, etc. But the spiritual and social activities, from church services to meals, were all held together. On the last day of the gathering, Friday October 6, all synod business having been concluded, everything was done together. In the morning, the four leading bishops signed the agreement for full communion. This was followed by a man calling out "Praise God!" and a spontaneous rendering, sung by all of us, of the Doxology. A little bit later the four jurisdictions held a Mass together. 

Whether they drew lots or simply discussed who would do what (I can ask my Archbishop if anyone thinks it matters how), the celebrant was Bishop Paul Hewitt, and the preacher was Bishop Grundorf. In his sermon, Bishop Grundorf preached on the theme "For such a time as this," words of Mordecai from the Book of Esther. As the keynote address the night before, by Fr. Charles Clendenin, Bishop Grundorf's sermon was direct, to the point, and very honest about the forty years long of our wandering (Psalm 95:10). He also spoke to the times in which we find ourselves, and about the challenges and opportunities before us. I believe both men were more than a keynote speaker and a homilist. They spoke as prophets, as I said this past Sunday in my own sermon (at this link you may find the sermon for the 17th Sunday after Trinity 2017). 

Earlier, when the four leading bishops were preparing to sign the agreement, Bishop Hewitt spoke of the "hand of God" on us, and of "the anointing" of the Holy Spirit. When considering the Biblically significant number of forty years (since the St. Louis Congress in 1977), and the leading of four bishops (evoking the memory of the first four Continuing bishops of the Denver Consecrations a few months after the Congress of St. Louis), it does appear that God Himself is the One Who has arranged these events, and Who is speaking to us "for such a time as this." I believe that God Himself judged it best for us to wander in division until He cleansed out from us much of the sins and error still in our old Episcopal Church and Church of Canada hard hearts, most especially the deadly sin of pride. As the ancient prophets of Israel told on their own people, and as the people eventually heard it to become a people prepared by God, so it is for us at this time. 

For my own reflections to be complete for you, I recommend hearing the sermon I preached two days later, as I linked above.


Canon Tallis said...

I have great hopes but all will depend upon their personal and corporate obedience to the Anglican canon: One Canon, Two Testaments, Three Creeds, Four councils and Five centuies. The great question is whether the four jurisdictions, individually and corporately are willing to be fully and completely Biblically Anglican or whether they will continue evading the demands both of Holy Scripture, the totality of the Prayer Book tradition beginning with Elizabeth's book of 1559 and the canon of 1571.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Well, I regard that as a substantive theological position, and think it can’t be answered in a sound bite. Suffice to say, I am glad to be in their camp.

Fr. David said...

Many thanks Father, for this commentary on the momentous events which we witnessed last week: you speak of Bishop Hewitt and the Hand of God being with all of us in that room: your use of the word prophecy is most apt. Perhaps it is also necessary to include the word 'humility': as it was this Grace which had to be present in the hearts and souls of each of those developing this breakthrough to sanity in the continuing Anglican churches for this goal of unity to be in part achieved: and with the prayer for its completion as other groups join. For Canon Tallis, the four jurisdictions have expressed, through their leadership, a strong commitment to the Affirmation of St Louis, which might alleviate his concerns?