Behold!

Jeremiah 33:14-16

the-prophet-jeremiah

14 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah.

15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.

Who Are These Anglicans in TGC?

A quote from the article:cropped-crosses3.jpg

“Many have rediscovered the beauty of Anglican worship and been surprised by the strong Reformation doctrines that permeate the Book of Common Prayer and its Thirty-Nine Articles. The Anglican Reformers of the 16th century were closely linked with the continental Reformers, and Thomas Cranmer—martyr and author of the first Anglican prayer book—was not only greatly influenced by Calvin and Bucer, but also married the niece of Luther’s disciple Osiander.”

Read the rest here.

Four Marks

Archbishop Foley Beach:foleybeach

I will call these the “Four Marks of Continuing a Spirit-filled Movement” or rather “Four Marks of Modern Anglicanism”

You see, we could go on playing Church and being religious and make no impact spiritually in our world. Yes, we could be married to our forms and traditions and remain a holy huddle in the midst of an ever-increasing secular society. This, however, would quench the Holy Spirit.

We are not and cannot be the Church as we have known it in the past. We must be a living Body engaged with the people around us. We must be the Temple of the Holy Spirit exhibiting the fruit and gifts of the Spirit in all we do. We must honor Jesus in all we do and all we say. We must have a culture that frees the Holy Spirit to do His Work in us and through us.

The First Mark of Modern Anglicanism is that we must be a Repenting Church.

After all, this is the message we have received in the Gospel. Remember the message of John the Baptist: Repent

Mt.3:2 – Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Remember the message of Jesus: Repent

Mt.4:17 – From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Remember the message of the Apostle Peter – at the end of his Pentecost sermon and the people were asking, “what must we do?”

Acts 2:38 – Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. This promise is for you and your children…

Remember the words of Apostle Paul when he was addressing the people of Athens in

Acts 17:22 – The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands people everywhere to repent.

He went on to write to the Romans…

Romans 2:4 – Do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance?

We are called to be a repenting Church. That is, we must be a repenting people of God; a group of repenting followers of Jesus. When God shows us our sin, we must turn from it and return to the Lord.

Isn’t this what repent means? Literally, it means to change your mind.

St. John of Dasmacus: Repentance is returning from the unnatural to the natural state, from the devil to God, through discipline and effort.

I know…here in the south, people will say that is how you become a believer – and it is – we repent of our sins and follow Jesus.

Because of God’s love for us, Because of Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. Because of his resurrection and the promise of eternal life, we change our minds (repent) about living for me, myself and I, and begin to live for Jesus. And this does lead to salvation.

But this repentance doesn’t stop when one is born again or comes into a relationship with God through Jesus;

It’s a day by day, moment by moment reality.

When a person comes to faith in Jesus, God does a wonderful and amazing thing – he places within the person the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit begins to teach you, guide you, reveal to you the ways of God, change your thinking, and he also begins to reveal to you your sin.

As God the Holy Spirit reveals to you your sin – usually through His Word, you then have a choice — continue in the sin, or change your mind (repent) and begin to believe the behavior or attitude is a sin – and turn from it! This is repentance. He is constantly showing me my sin –and unless I repent, I quench the Holy Spirit in my life and in my ministry. 1 Thess.5:19.

As God shows us our sin, we must turn from it and return to the Lord, or we quench the Holy Spirit’s power in our lives.

St. Paul of the Cross: Should we fall into a sin, let us humble ourselves sorrowfully in his presence, and then, with an act of unbounded confidence, let us throw ourselves into the ocean of his goodness, where every failing will be cancelled and anxiety turned into love.

We are called to be a repenting Church. I call on our bishops to repent. I call on our priests to repent. I call on our deacons to repent. I call on our vestry members to repent. I call on our musicians to repent. I call on all the laity to repent.

God loves you. God cares for you. It truly is his kindness which leads us to repentance. It’s for our good. It’s so he can shower us with His grace. This is part of what we confess as Anglicans.

Isn’t this what we pray each week when we pray the General Confession? If you pray the Daily Office, you pray it twice a day every day…

“We are truly sorry, and we humbly repent” or some version of this – depending on the liturgy.

As we confess our sins, we tell God that we are sorry, and that we humbly repent. Yet, do we? The question each of us must ask ourselves: “Is there something in my life which the Lord has shown me of which I must repent?”

As a Province and as believers, unless we repent of our sins, we quench the Holy Spirit in our amidst. If we are going to be the Church, the people of God, the Lord wants us to be, we must be a repenting Church.

The Second Mark of Modern Anglicanism is that we must be is a Reconciling Church.

When I speak of reconciliation, I am not talking about being reconciled with the world, or with sin, or with sinful behavior or giving up one’s principles or compromising Biblical Truth in order to be reconciled. However, the Scriptures do tell us that we are all ministers of reconciliation and that we are to be reconciled with each other.

This reconciliation is based on the cross of Jesus, on the Truth in the Scriptures, and on the Tradition handed down to us by the Church Fathers. To be reconciled means there was once a problem.

The Australia Anglican scholar, Leon Morris: “Reconciliation properly applies not to good relations in general but to the doing away of an enmity, the bridging over of a quarrel. It implies that the parties being reconciled were formerly hostile to one another.”

This was true with us, and The Lord. This is also true with too many of God’s people with each other. For real reconciliation to take place, you must remove the enmity – the source of the quarrel. We may apologize for our actions. We may pay back money we owe. We may return something which we borrowed.

We may make restitution for the damage we have done. In every situation there must be a dealing with the root cause of the enmity. In other words, there is no true reconciliation without repentance.

Still Reforming, Still a Protestant…

f.jpgor years I have visited different online forums to discuss theological topics and recently spent some time on a forum discussing Anglicanism with Anglicans. Although friendly, it was immediately clear that even a very general orthodox position was not tolerated by Anglicans on the forum. It was as if Christian doctrine was being re-assessed by current cultural trends! Sure, there are plenty of orthodox Anglicans out there in the world but I have to wonder how much longer they can hold out, how much longer will they last in Anglicanism before being driven out? We can find spin-off groups and churches, some Anglo-Catholic and others Evangelical, but as we’ve learned from “Joey,” a spin-off of “Friends,” spin-offs can be terrible. (For the older reader think “Joanie Loves Chachi” and “Happy Days”) We get a lot of the same “stuff” but it’s just not the same.

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majority of Anglican theologians tend to be less than orthodox and their theological views are out of sync with the often conservative worship offered on Sunday mornings. For example, did you know that two percent of Anglican Priests in the UK do not believe in God? Instead of growing in faith Anglican Ministers seem to fall into unbelief with age:

“Clergy were significantly more likely to hold unorthodox beliefs the older they were and the longer they had been in the ministry. Nearly 90 per cent of those ordained since 2011 believe in God compared with  only 72 per cent of those who became priests in the 1960s, the research discovered.” (Source)

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n the Apostles Creed we confess, “Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried…” It was reported back in 2002, that 500 English clergyman took part in a poll and found that 27 percent denied the Virgin Birth! This is astounding. One Priest was quoted, “We will be having a traditional service because that is what people expect and enjoy.” (Source) Not because it was a matter of worship but because “that is what people expect!” In another survey 1 in 50 Anglican Priests in the UK believe God is nothing more than a human construct used to deal with the stresses of day to day life. (Source) The Anglican Church in the West has been declining for decades and is there any wonder, when they lack faith in the essentials?

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t has been pointed out that, “For most of the past 50 years, a great deal of Christian wrangling has been about whether the church needs a doctrinal shift towards liberalism or conservatism to survive.” (SourceAccording to God & Politics “those calling themselves Christians, 40% defined it as ‘I try to be a good person’, 26% chose ‘It’s how I was brought up’ and only 16% selected the statement ‘I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Saviour’. 49% had not attended a church service in the previous 12 months. Also more worryingly, 49% did not think is Jesus the Son of God and bizarrely 6% did not believe in God at all.” The problem is obviously liberalism, which reinterprets orthodox doctrines in new and fanciful ways. When 60 percent of Church of England Christians never read their Bibles therein the problems lies. The article on God & Politics includes a breakdown of Anglicanism in the UK that can probably be extrapolated for other Anglican Churches in the West.

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s you all know I’ve been attending an Anglican parish for a while now. It was all good at first, everything was new and exciting. It was a good experience getting into the rhythm of the church calendar, the seasons, such as Lent and Easter. If you have ever experienced Anglican worship you will likely agree that it’s beautiful with the candles, vestments, stained glass windows, etc. That all stated I feel my time with the Anglican church maybe coming to an end. The polling data is clear, the vote to allow same sex marriage seems inevitable and with it, so does the departure of the remaining orthodox Anglicans. The local parishes in my area are still very orthodox and Protestant so I’m not sure how they will handle all of this. How did we get here, how did this all happen?

It’s not as if the Church of England hadn’t been warned:

As the Church is now internally constituted, her Calvinism is impregnable; while she lives, this is immortal. The legislature have it, indeed, in their power (God forbid they should ever have the inclination!) to melt down her Liturgy, Homilies, and Articles; and, when her component particles are severed by state chemistry, to cast her into the Arminian mould: but, until this is really done, all the artifice of man will never be able to fix the banner of Arminius in the citadel, how daringly soever some of his disciples (John Wesley) may display it on the walls. Our pulpits may declare for free-will; but the desk, our prayers, and the whole of our standard writings as a Church, breathe only the doctrines of grace.” Augustus Toplady, Historic Proof of the Doctrine Calvinism of the Church of England

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oplady’s Church is no more. At least not held by the majority…but was it ever? I have stated many times that the Book of Common Prayer is beautifully Reformed and Calvinistic, however, Arminianism (and with it Liberalism) slipped into the citadel. The enemy is within the Anglican Gates and has been for years. The more any church moves away from biblical Calvinism, the more it places man over all as sovereign.

“The type of religion which rejoices in the pious sound of traditional phrases, regardless of their meanings, or shrinks from “controversial” matters, will never stand amid the shocks of life. In the sphere of religion, as in other spheres, the things about which men are agreed are apt to be the things that are least worth holding; the really important things are the things about which men will fight.” J. Gresham Machen, Christianity and Liberalism

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hat I have Learned 

My sojourning with the Anglicans was not all for nothing and I am stepping away, for now at least, with a deeper understanding of my own failings, especially when it comes to my personal idealism and sectarianism. Some might say idealism is really “legalism” but I disagree. In my case I was placing such a high ideal on the local church it was bound to leave me wanting. I’ve been a Christian for just shy of 20 years and for most of that time I’ve been extremely sectarian and dogmatic, the Anglicans have taught me to loosen up on what “I” require as a confession from another believer and trust God to sort out the details.

I’ve also been reminded that orthodox Protestantism is in the minority.

Our voice online is often louder than our presence in the local congregation and even though we can download thousands of sermons by orthodox preachers a solid sermon can be difficult to find locally. Where does this leave me? Hopeful. I’m very hopeful and have enjoyed visiting different churches and denominations since leaving the Anglican parish. I’m not sure where I’ll end up or where I’ll plant roots but I know I will. Tomorrow I’m back at First Baptist and looking forward to it after all…it is the Lord’s Day, not mine.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

The Annunciation from the 1662 BCP

Sorry, this was supposed to be posted yesterday. Don’t worry folks, confessional Anglicans respect St. Mary, but do not ask her intercession.

Annunciation2The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary from the

Book of Common Prayer 1662

The Collect.

WE beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Epistle. Isaiah 7. 10: MOREOVER, the Lord spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good.

The Gospel. St. Luke 1. 26: AND in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Marian Theology?

our lady of walsingham anglican

Our Lady of Walsingham

Article 22, of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, clearly state:

“The Romish doctrine concerning Purgatory, Pardons, worshipping and adoration as well of Images as of Relics, and also Invocation of Saints, is a fond thing vainly invented, and grounded upon no warranty of Scripture; but rather repugnant to the word of God.” 

The 39 Articles of Religion were added to the Book of Common Prayer after the time of Thomas Cranmer, but we do know Cranmer re-wrote the ancient Collects to exclude the intercession of the Saints, including St. Mary. Anglicanism did not seek the intercession of Saints or seek prayers for the dead until the time of the Oxford Movement which tried to move the English Church toward Romanism. Before the Oxford Movement Anglicanism was Protestant in its worship and confessional stance – that a Christian is to approaching God the Father on the merit of Jesus Christ alone.

Yours in the Lord,

jm

PS: Always learning, always reforming.

What is Maundy Thursday?

maundy thursday

Source: https://www.epiphanysry.org/

Maundy Thursday marks the beginning of the three most important days in the life of the Church. In the days ahead we run the full gamut of emotions, from the intimacy and joy of a shared meal (Communion) to the loneliness of watching in the Garden of Gethsemane. We wait at the foot of the cross where Jesus our Savior dies, and experience the emptiness and loss of his precious life. And at the end of three days there is the light and joy and new life of Easter.

Holy Thursday; Maundy Thursday. Jesus gathered with his disciples and friends to share the Passover. It was an intimate group who had (we assume) met each Passover to share the meal that Jews had shared every year since the exodus from Egypt. They celebrated (and still do so today) God’s faithfulness and steadfastness in their lives … God’s promise to be with the people and care for them on their journey through life. Today we enter into the same relationship, trusting God to walk with us and be with us in life as it continues.

Footwashing: It was the custom for a servant to wash the feet of guests at a meal. Jesus turned that concept on its head, because as the host he became the servant to his beloved friends. On this night our clergy, too, wash and dry the feet of the congregation. It is a reminder that they are servants as well as leaders within this community; we do it because Jesus gave us that example and we do it to remind each other that in life, and especially in the life of the Church, we are all called to be servants to one another and at times to be served, too.

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Eucharist: As Jesus first shared bread and wine with his friends we will also share the bread and wine of Eucharist (which itself means “thanksgiving”) to demonstrate our love for Jesus Christ, to recognize and celebrate that through bread and wine that he is present and active in our lives. Tonight we especially recall and celebrate again the simple meal of bread and wine that joined the disciples and others to Jesus in love and service.

After Jesus gathered and shared bread and wine with his disciples and friends, their lives were changed. And so it is for us: each and every time we eat the bread of life and drink the cup of salvation our lives are changed as once again we share in the body of Christ.

Stripping of the Altar: At the end of the service this evening the Church is stripped down to its bare wood. Why do we do this?

The candles are extinguished and removed. Candles represent Christ’s light: “I am the light of the world”. In recognition of the darkness following the death of Jesus on the cross, the candles are removed from our presence.

The communion elements are removed. Jesus’ body and blood have been given to us, have been shed for us, and are given to us in the form of the bread and wine. Just as He was removed from us in the grave, so too the elements and the vessels of the Holy Eucharist are removed from our presence.

The altar itself is in the form of a table. This is the place where Christ serves us as both host and meal at his banquet feast. The altar is dressed in fine linens, coverings and paraments fitting and deserving of such a holy meal, and in the presence of the King of Kings. And just as Jesus’ body was stripped of its coverings, so we too, strip the coverings from this altar.

There is no benediction… there is no postlude, no closing hymn… because the service is not over.  It will continue on Good Friday, and on Easter morning we will celebrate again the Risen Lord.

Palm Sunday

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday!

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. – Zechariah 9:9

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“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt. These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. – John 12:12-18

And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.- Revelation 19:11

The Presence of Christ’s Body in the Lord’s Supper

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Holy Trinity Anglican Church

John Calvin summaries, “our souls are fed by the flesh and blood of Christ in the same way that bread and wine keep and sustain physical life. For the analogy of the sign applies only if souls find their nourishment in Christ—which cannot happen unless Christ truly grows into one with us, and refreshes us by the eating of His flesh and the drinking of His blood.

Even though it seems unbelievable that Christ’s flesh, separated from us by such great distance, penetrates to us, so that it becomes our food, let us remember how far the secret power of the Holy Spirit towers above all our senses, and how foolish it is to wish to measure His immeasureableness by our measure. What, then our mind does not comprehend, let faith conceive: that the Spirit truly unites things separated in space.

Now, that sacred partaking of His flesh and blood, by which Christ pours His life into us, as if it penetrated into our bones and marrow, He also testifies and seals in the Supper—not by presenting a vain and empty sign, but by manifesting there the effectiveness of His Spirit to fulfil what He promises. And truly He offers and shows the reality there signified to all who sit at that spiritual banquet, although it is received with benefit by believers alone, who accept such great generosity with true faith and gratefulness of heart.

In this manner the Apostle said, “The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ?” (1 Cor 10:16; order changed). There is no reason for anyone to object that this is a figurative expression by which the name of the thing signified is given to the sign. I indeed admit that the breaking of bread is a symbol; it is not the thing itself. But, having admitted this, we shall nevertheless duly infer that by the showing of the symbol the thing itself is also shown. For unless a man means to call God a deceiver, he would never dare assert that an empty symbol is set forth by Him. Therefore, if the Lord truly represents the participation in His body through the breaking of bread, there ought not to be the least doubt that He truly presents and shows His body. And the godly ought by all means to keep this rule: whenever they see symbols appointed by the Lord, to think and be persuaded that the truth of the thing signified is surely present there. For why should the Lord put in your hand the symbol of His body, except to assure you of a true participation in it? But if it is true that a visible sign is given us to seal the gift of a thing invisible, when we have received the symbol of the body, let us no less surely trust that the body itself is also given to us.