Well, we have been attending an Episcopal church lately. The church we are attending is small and beautiful and worship-oriented. It is centered on Jesus Christ. Worshiping with them in the liturgical tradition has been very helpful and meaningful for Scott and me.
Ironically and sadly, most of what I knew about the Episcopal church before beginning to attend there comes from reading and viewing decades of news stories about the controversial ordination of gay priests and bishops. For me, this was balanced in recent years by my reading of N. T. Wright, an Anglican bishop who is a very interesting theologian and historian, as well as by my visit this past Christmas to that cathedral in NYC where the sermon was as biblical as anyone could wish for.
But my guess is that what most people know about the Episcopal church derives from the constant stream of news stories. What a horrible and unfortunate P. R. campaign, eh? To be known for clashes over ordaining gay clergy instead of being known as the spiritual home of thoughtful writers like C. S. Lewis, J.I. Packer, John Stott, Madeleine L’Engle, or the great composer of The Messiah, George Frideric Handel, or for its role in ending apartheid in South Africa or for its “via media” approach of following a middle road between Catholic and Protestant worship and theology or for its beautiful, literate prayer book.
The headlines really started piling up this spring, and in fact some commentators suggest that at this point the Episcopal Church’s history as part of the worldwide Anglican Church (The Anglican Communion) may be nearly over.
How sad that a denomination that has prided itself on a heritage of Christian unity in diversity, and worldwide and historical connectivity is struggling with such profound division.And how odd it is to find ourselves worshiping in an Episcopal Church at this time of great pain and controversy for their denomination.
I am thankful that the little church we are attending seems to be undistracted by all those goings-on. What we have experienced so far has been worship that is very singleminded about worshiping Christ and being fed on Him via word and sacrament.
I tend to love to follow an engaging controversy, but I hope to take this little church’s example and not get distracted by it.