Over the last few weeks, we have looked at how we might describe the Anglican tradition as:
“A Biblical faith, rooted in ancient tradition, relevant for the questions and challenges of today, and with a bright hope for the future.”
This week we will conclude this series by exploring the ways we celebrate our hope for the future within the Anglican tradition. While the certain hope that Christ will return in glory is common to all Christians, there are ways that the Biblical and liturgical tradition of Anglican practice remind us of this hope.
We mentioned last week the way that the Psalter as we pray through it monthly in the Daily Office teaches us to express the full range of our human emotions in the presence of a holy and loving God. In particular, the Psalms of lament teach us to hope in God in the darkest moments. I talked with someone recently who wondered how there could even be a God with all of the pain and suffering in the world. This is the first part of any lament, but without the other parts, we are condemned to a life without hope. Lament teaches us to see the suffering and pain within our lives and the world around us and bring the rawness of this pain before God crying out that the current situation is intolerable, that we are powerless to change it, and that God must act. Then we wait in the midst of our lament. This waiting is not marked in the Psalms of lament, but if we look closely, we can see the fruit of this waiting as the Psalm of lament moves from sorrow to hope and ends in praise of God who is faithful and just. While we may not see resolution to the pain and suffering we brought before God, we experience the mystery of hope by the consolation of the Holy Spirit. Lament reminds us that our hope is in God alone and not in our own plans and efforts.
We also act in faith in a hopeful future as we pray whether in the liturgical prayers and collects of the Book of Common Prayer or in our personal prayers for ourselves or for others. This hope is well summarized in the Prayer of St. John Chrysostom which concludes Morning and Evening Prayer:
Almighty God, you have given us grace at this time with one accord to make our common supplications to you; and you have promised through your well beloved Son that when two or three are gathered together in his name you will be in the midst of them: Fulfill now, O Lord, our desires and petitions as may be best for us; granting us in this world knowledge of your truth, and in the age to come life everlasting. Amen.
Our Eucharistic liturgy is filled with hope for today, tomorrow, and for the age to come. It is in hope and faith that we join the eternal liturgy of praise, singing the Sanctus with the angels, archangels, and all the company of heaven. In singing together with all the communion of saints, we experience today the joy and hope of the resurrection. In the prayer of consecration, we acknowledge not only the certain hope of spiritual nourishment in the Body and Blood of Christ, but also the certain hope that we will see Jesus face to face when we enter into the fullness of the Kingdom. As we conclude the Eucharist, we pray that having been nourished and strengthened in faith, we will be sent out into the world in the hope that God has prepared good works for us to do and prepared us for those works of love and service.
In our Anglican tradition we celebrate our sure hope in the power and love of God and the glory of His Kingdom for the next moment, the next week, and the next age.