Morning by Morning

"The Lord GOD has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with a word him who is weary. Morning by morning he awakens; he awakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. The Lord GOD has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious; I turned not backward." Isaiah 50:4-5

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Prayer: Heavenly Father over the years I have often said, “I am an Anglican first, and an Episcopalian second.”  That declaration and awareness has comforted me in the past, but what if the Anglican Communion itself is torn asunder?  I am saddened, but not shaken by the prospect, because the fact is that my roots are sunk even deeper than the few centuries of our specific Anglican history.

I am on the Canterbury Trail to the defaced shrine of the Holy Martyr Thomas á Becket.  Well he understood the problems of royal privilege and its potential for contaminating the Church in England.  As an old colonial boy I find it frustrating that the royals and parliament have so much say in the life of the Church, but you know I love the pomp and ceremony, the skirl of pipes and the rumble of drums

My roots reach back through the long history of the English Church, through Milton, and through Blake who prayed, “And did the Countenance Divine Shine forth upon our clouded hills?  And was Jerusalem builded here Among these dark Satanic Mills?”  Through John Jewel and “ the Coming Down of the Holy Ghost and the Manifold Gifts Thereof,”  through Cranmer and the Book of Common Prayer, through Julian of Norwich and Margery Kempe, through Walter Hilton and Richard Rolle, through blesséd Anselm who teaches me that the strength of my salvation is the strength of Christ.

My roots reach further back through Augustine of Canterbury, through Saint Benedict and the ancient Monks of Nursia, through Antony of the Desert and the wild-eyed desert hermits.  My roots reach back through Canterbury, past Roman paving stones to ancient Celts and Britons by their smoky fires smouldering in the damp of an English spring.

My roots reach even further back through wandering missionaries, Christian tradesmen, and Roman soldiers who bearing the cross on their hearts first tread upon the soil of the land of my forefathers. 

My roots reach even further back through the long and dreadful glorious history of the martyrs of the early church, through the letters and missions of Paul and Peter, Jude and James and John and all the Gospellers now radiant in glory.  “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.  In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:19-20).

It is actually that last declaration that binds together the whole of this tumultuous history of the Church catholic and militant that I have loved, and still love with every fibre of my being.  My Father it is immersion in your Spirit, poured out upon the Church through the hands of Jesus our Head that makes sense of the whole.  It is one of your miracles that the Church in all its brokenness over the centuries still survives. 

Time and time and time again you gather the broken shards together and craft again a golden vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the Master of the house, ready for every good work (2 Timothy 2:21).  I find that instead of grieving or despairing, I am excited by the shaking of the foundations of our beloved Anglican Communion.  When “the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the well” (Ecclesiastes 12:6), nothing less than your holy hands are at work.  My Lord, let me see!  Show me the new golden vessel as it rises like the Phoenix from the ashes.  Break us, mold us, make us, fill us again most glorious Lord and Father.  We are yours, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

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