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.