Holy Trinity Anglican Church

Month: October 2019

Treasures from the Book of Common Prayer – The Preface – Reflection fro 27 OCT 2019

     I’ll be the first to admit that when I pick up a book, I want to get right to the heart of it. I don’t often read the forward, the preface, or the introduction. With the Book of Common Prayer, I’m even more likely to turn simply to the liturgy or prayer for which I am looking. However, the Preface in the various versions of the Book of Common Prayer are hidden gems that reveal the heart of the prayer book tradition.

     The 2019 edition contains the prefaces of the 1549 and 1662 prayers books in the section titled “Foundational Documents.”  In the Preface of the 1549 BCP, we find that the heart of the book is to return simplicity and piety to the common people by conducting worship in the common tongue noting that “the Service in the Church of England (these many years) hath been read in Latin to the people, which they understood not; so that they have heard with their ears only; and their hearts, spirit, and mind, have not been edified thereby,” and “that all things shall be read and sung in the church in the English tongue, to the end that the congregation may be thereby edified.” In addition to language, the change in lectionary such that in the daily office, the whole Bible is read once a year “intending thereby, that the Clergy, and especially such as were Ministers of the congregation, should (by often reading, and meditation of God’s word) be stirred up to godliness themselves, and be more able to exhort others by wholesome doctrine, and to confute them that were adversaries to the truth. And further, that the people (by daily hearing of Holy Scripture read in the Church) should continually profit more and more in the knowledge of God, and be the more inflamed with the love of his true religion.”

     The Preface to the 1662 BCP reveals the desire for unity following the English Civil War stating, “It hath been the wisdom of the Church of England, ever since the first compiling of her publick Liturgy, to keep the mean between the two extremes, of too much stiffness in refusing, and of too much easiness in admitting any variation from it.” And, “Our general aim therefore in this undertaking was, not to gratify this or that party in any their unreasonable demands; but to do that, which to our best understandings we conceived might most tend to the preservation of Peace and Unity in the Church; the procuring of Reverence, and exciting of Piety and Devotion in the publick Worship of God; and the cutting off occasion from them that seek occasion of cavil or quarrel against the Liturgy of the Church.”

     After a brief but thorough historical review of the Anglican Church, The Book of Common Prayer (2019) proclaims itself, “indisputably true to Cranmer’s originating vision of a form of prayers and praises that is thoroughly Biblical, catholic in the manner of the early centuries, highly participatory in delivery, peculiarly Anglican and English in its roots, culturally adaptive and missional in a most remarkable way, utterly accessible to the people, and whose repetitions are intended to form the faithful catechetically and to give them doxological voice.”

     Throughout the centuries, we can see in the prefaces the heart of the Book of Common Prayer the desire for all of the congregation to participate in and be formed by corporate worship and private devotion guided by the prayer book.

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What Does It Mean To Be Anglican? Sermon on 27 OCT 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon What Does It Mean To Be Anglican?

LESSONS:

First Lesson Jeremiah 14:7-10,19-22

Psalm Psalm 84

Second Lesson 2 Timothy 4:6-18

Gospel Luke 18:9-14

COLLECT: Almighty and everlasting God, you govern all things both in heaven and on earth: Mercifully hear the supplications of your people, and in our time grant us your peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Christian? Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 20 OCT 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon from the morning service – What Does It Mean To Be A Christian?

LESSONS:

First Lesson Gen 32:3-8, 32:22-30

Psalm Psalm 121

Second Lesson 2 Timothy 3:14-4:5

Gospel Luke 18:1-8

COLLECT: Set us free, loving Father, from the bondage of our sins, and in your goodness and mercy give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Treasures from the Book of Common Prayer – The General Thanksgiving – Reflection for 20 OCT 2019

      Over the next several weeks, we will be exploring some of the fundamentals of our faith in preparation for Confirmation and Reception when Bishop Orji visits our parish in December. Instead of continuing our series of reflections on “Companions on the Way,” I will use this space to offer some treasures from the Book of Common Prayer that inspire, inform, or reflect the theme of the sermon. 

     Today we are exploring what it means to be a Christian. The sermon explores the dogma and doctrine of the Christianity as hopeful, transforming, ordered, and practiced. An ancient maxim in the Christian tradition states, “Lex orandi. Lex credendi. Lex vivendi.”  The way of our prayer is the way of our belief is the way of our life. In the prayer that closes both Morning and Evening Prayer, we see these same elements of hope, redemption and transformation, order, and practice. 

The General Thanksgiving
Almighty God, Father of all mercies,
we your unworthy servants give you humble thanks
for all your goodness and loving-kindness
to us and to all whom you have made.
We bless you for our creation, preservation,
and all the blessings of this life;
but above all for your immeasurable love
in the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ;
for the means of grace, and for the hope of glory.
And, we pray, give us such an awareness of your mercies,
that with truly thankful hearts we may show forth your praise,
not only with our lips, but in our lives,
by giving up our selves to your service,
and by walking before you
in holiness and righteousness all our days;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory throughout all ages. Amen.

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The Blessing of Marriage – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 13 OCT 2019

Listen to today’s sermon – The Blessing of Marriage

LESSONS:

First Lesson Genesis 1:26-28; 2:4-9,15-24

Psalm Psalm 67

Second Lesson Ephesians 5:1-2, 21-33

Gospel Mark 10:6-9

COLLECT: O gracious and everliving God, you have created us male and female in your image: Look mercifully upon this man and this woman who come to you seeking your blessing, and assist them with your grace, that with true fidelity and steadfast love they may honor and keep the promises and vows they make; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

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Companions on the Way – Bernard of Clairvaux – Reflection for 13 OCT 2019

   Saint Bernard of Clairvaux was a 12th Century Cistercian monk, reformer, and mystic. His writings On the Love of God and Commentary on the Song of Songs remain classics of mystical prayer. Two of his insights have been great company on my journey and I pray that you may find company in them as well.

   In the first insight, Bernard describes the four ways or degrees of love we experience. We begin with a love of ourselves for ourself’s sake. This carnal love which seeks satisfaction in the pleasure of self. It is “a perverted will blindly seeking the sovereign good. It makes haste in vain, the plaything of its own vanity, deceived by iniquity.” As we come to realize the emptiness of the promises of self-gratification, we are drawn to seek satisfaction in something beyond ourselves, in God, the Creator. In this way, we come to the second love, the love of God for self’s sake. We love God because of what He can do for us. However shallow this type of love may be, it brings us into the presence of God and as we come to know the goodness of God, we begin to learn the third way of love, loving God for God’s sake. This is “a love most pure, for it is shown simply in holy deeds and truth; most just, for it returns that which it receives. Whoso loves with this love, loves as he is loved, and seeks no more his own, but the things of Jesus Christ, even as Jesus Christ has sought us.” As we dwell deeply in the love of God, we catch glimpses of the fourth way of love, the love of self for God’s sake. This is the mysterious losing and finding of our very self in the love of God, the place within the depth of our soul where we hear and know our true identity as Beloved.  

   While Bernard describes these ways of loving in a seemingly linear way, I find them more to be a like a spiral. God in His gentle love reveals to me the selfishness and futility of an affection. He then invites me to find the satisfaction of the desire that motivates the affection in Him. In satisfying the desire, He draws me into His presence where again I find delight in His presence more than in the fulfillment of my desire. I may even catch the glimpse of the way that the affection and desire were only ways of my soul striving for love. I may hear the call to cease striving to be loved and to simply be loved. I may for a brief instant know and experience the love that God has for me, until the next affection or desire that draws me away from God captures the attention of my heart and the cycle begins anew.

   In the second insight, Bernard instructs how to love others in the love of God. He writes, “The man who is wise, therefore, will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water till it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself.” 

   I keep this wisdom from Saint Bernard close at hand. Whenever I am anxious, frustrated, troubled, or otherwise distracted in ministry, I use it to remind myself of the vital importance of cultivating time to be filled with the love of God before serving in the Name of that same Love. Almost always, I find that the source of my discomfort in ministry stems from trying to love from emptiness rather than fullness. This is a call for me to return to the love of God for God’s sake and be filled. 

   May you be filled with the love of God to overflowing and may you know the depths to which God loves you.

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From Idolatry to Healing – Sermon at Holy Trinity Anglican Church 6 OCT 2019

Listen to Fr Rob’s sermon from the morning service – From Idolatry to Healing

LESSONS:

First Lesson Habakkuk 1:1–13, 2:1-4

Psalm Psalm 37

Second Lesson 2 Timothy 1:1–14

Gospel Luke 17:1-10

COLLECT: Keep, O Lord, your household the Church in continual godliness; that through your protection it may be free from all adversities, and devotedly serve you in good works, to the glory of your Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

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Companions on the Way – Reflection for 6 OCT 2019

   When we traveled in Europe, my wife would grab the Rick Steve’s guide book for the city that we were visiting. Rick would give us tips on the sights to see, the times of day that lines would be shorter, great restaurants, and places to stay to maximize comfort and minimize costs. We could have muddled around the city with only a map and our own determination. We might have eventually stumbled into the same insights, but having Rick’s experience to guide us on the journey saved us time and frustration.

   As we consider our own spiritual journey, we can certainly muddle our way through on our own with only a Bible and our own determination, but having companions along the way saves us much frustration and discouragement. Sometimes our companion is a friend who encourages and challenges us. Our companion might be a pastor or spiritual director who focuses our attention on the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives and shares insights and lessons on the spiritual journey. We can also look to the guide books of the spiritual journey throughout the Christian tradition. 

   Over the next six weeks as we complete our walk through Ordinary Time, we will explore some insights from some of these companions. We will start this week with the companion who guides us each week, Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer, who crafted the Book of Common Prayer as he led the Church of England through the Reformation. 

   The three key ways that Cranmer guides me in my own spiritual journey are in comprehension, anthropology, and common piety. Comprehension refers to the way in which Cranmer crafted the prayer book to comprehend the variety of understandings of theology that circulated during the reformation. Instead of taking a right or wrong stand on opinions and theories that can not be proven, Cranmer crafted the Prayer Book to be faithful to Scripture and comprehensive of the views of divergent parties. Our churches would do well to follow this most Anglican of church traditions. Cranmer’s understanding of humanity, his anthropology, permeates the Prayer Book and leads us in worship toward a transformation of the heart. This anthropology can be summarized as, “What the heart desires, the will directs, and the mind justifies.” Finally, Thomas Cranmer promoted a common piety. He saw the potential for holiness to reside in the common person and not just in the so-called religious in the monasteries. We see this in the Prayer Book as the seven daily prayers of the monastery are consolidated into Morning and Evening Prayer to be prayed in the parish and not just the monastery. We can certainly be thankful to have Thomas Cranmer as our companion on the way as we worship together in Common Prayer.

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