From my last post, you can glean that I'm currently searching for somewhere to fit in. This morning I visited a local Anglican church. This is a church I've visited in the past. The rector was gracious to me while I was in seminary by granting an interview that was required in one of my pastoral care classes. Today's service was a confirmation service. There were new confirmands welcomed into membership as well as other new members being received. The diocesan bishop was there officiating. Now, I'm not usually a high-church kinda guy. Yes, I appreciate the liturgy. But, all the pomp and stuff sometimes gets in the way.
As the bishop spoke and gave the sermon, I was impressed with his attitude. He seemed to really enjoy what he was doing. Unlike some of the 'messages' that I had experienced at other churches, you know, the ones where the speaker cries or has some kind of 'hard word,' this bishop was actually happy. That was good, but I was not prepared for what came next. As the folks who were being welcomed into church membership came forward, the bishop prayed a short, pre-written prayer asking for God's blessing. This kind of thing is typical with churches that have written worship forms, like the Book of Common Prayer. After he spoke these 'proper' prayers, as he laid his hands on each person or couple, he prophesied over each. HE PROPHESIED OVER EACH PERSON!! I was not ready for a charismatic experience in this Anglican church. To make it even better, as communion was about to begin, the bishop's wife stood up and shared what most charismatics would consider a word of knowledge about healing. As the service concluded I watched the platform. Because of the special service there were several clergy present. Besides the rector and his 2 assistants, there was a minister from Kenya and and another priest that I did not hear from whence he came. They were all on the platform singing the final hymn, hands upraised, the too-big sleeves of their gowns giving one the idea of several rather large white birds getting ready for flight. The rector was swaying with song, "Immortal, Invisible God Only Wise." The only word that came to me was Celebration. The entire service had been a celebration in the presence of Yahweh. I was blessed.
Does this mean that I am leaning toward this church? No, not really. I don't know enough about the Anglican tradition. I am going to visit more. As I think back on the other times that I have visited this church I have to say that each time was celebratory. Whether I find a home in this environment or not, I have seen what a Sunday gathering should be. It should be a time to raise hands, voices and hearts to the Creator/Yahweh who lives within us. We should express the joy and thanksgiving that is natural for people who have been freed from sin and death by the faithfulness of Christ. We should share in the remembrance of Christ in the koinonia of the ecclesia. It's not too far off to say that we should have fun and enjoy one another in God's presence.