July 31st, 2010
|03:22 pm - The mission of the Church (well, local church at least), with a bonus thought on marriage|
I love the mission statement of the church my boyfriend attends. They're Anglo-Catholic (aka high church Episcopal), and more socially liberal than many of the Christians I know would be comfortable with, but they're also very orthodox in theology and practice. And I firmly believe that their mission should be adopted by all churches.
We are called by God to be a holy place where love is found, where all are named and where hearts are freed to change the world.
Let's break it down.
We are called by God to be a holy place
“Holy” means “set apart.” The church (the Church Universal, but especially the local parish) is a community of people called together by their trust in God and their desire to serve Him and each other. Called out of their individual lives and work into relationship and support, into learning and grace and the encouragement of each other in following Christ's example of living.
where love is found
A natural outflow of the call to community and holiness, it's necessary to specify this because God's very identity is love. Holiness is not rules and regulations, and a holy community is not an intolerant, legalistic one. Love, active holiness, is what confirms that a congregation is walking in the ways of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.
where all are named
I have loved this concept of naming since the first time I encountered it, in Madeleine L'Engle's A Wind in the Door (quickly followed by LeGuin's Earthsea books). Naming someone is seeing who they truly are and are meant to be, and calling that out, telling it them and to others. Validating not how they see themselves (though it may be that as well), but how God sees them, their real, incandescent, beautiful selves.
and where hearts are freed
Naming and love set us free. “The truth shall set you free,” and every time God's truth is spoken into the life and relationships of a human being, it becomes more real in them. They become better able to speak that truth to others, to love even their enemies, to reach out and to serve and to receive and to grow.
to change the world.
The kingdom of God is among us already. It's our business, as His people, to work and create as He would, to help bring into this fallen and broken world the grace and love and peace and justice that he has brought to us. It won't be fully whole until he returns to renew all of creation, but we can start his work now, and none of it will be lost. That's the real definition of the so-called “social gospel,” that the good news of the kingdom makes a difference here and now, not just in some distant future.
We are called to be set apart by our love for each other, by how we see and affirm God's good gifts in each other, and by how we help each other towards the freedom to love more truly, live more deeply, and reach out to the world around us with the kingdom of God.
And having written this, I am reminded of something I read in a little book about the church. The author called marriage “the smallest unit of the Body of Christ.” Assuming that's so (and I would put friendship in there too, but whatever), take a moment to think about what it would be like to be in a marriage lived according to these values.
We are called by God to [make our marriage/our home] a holy place where love is found, where [each is] named and where [our] hearts are freed to change the world.
Current Mood: enthralled
So is there a difference between Anglo-Catholic, Anglican, and Episcopal? And if so, is it mainly theological or more to do with the style and formality of the service?
Oh dear, I am not quite as knowledgeable as I should be, yet. I would say it has more to do with style of service, because the theology is basically the same, it's a liturgical Protestant church (they all use the same Book of Common Prayer and, you know, the Bible).
Ahh. I was wondering if the Anglo-Catholic bit indicated something about the relationship with the Catholic Church, because I know the Anglican Church is closely related to, but separate from, the Catholic Church. Some Episcopalians and Anglicans recently have been pursuing conversion to Catholicism over issues like the church's stand on gay clergy, so I was wondering if it was related to that.
Not so much any relationship with the Catholic Church as a leaning towards the traditions. Anglo-Catholic is still Anglican, aka still Protestant, aka still Not Part of Rome. :)
I think some do go from the Anglo-Catholic church to Rome, but not for the same reasons you're citing.
Anglo-Catholics see themselves as Catholic but not Roman; that is they think that the Anglican churches are fully part of the apostolic church ie. that their orders can be traced back to the apostles; furthermore they believe in the five sacraments, often do things like devotions to the saints, etc. It's related to the Roman church in the sense that they believe or do similar things, but there's no institutional relationship (though there have been some interesting joint statements on the Eucharist and on Mary).
Ack! No, not Protestant! Reformed, yes, but not Protestant.
LOL, I knew you would jump om this if you saw it. Most people over here use "Protestant" in a not-really-historical way, to mean "non-Roman." Pardon me for using it as such; I have not yet found time to pack all the "proper" terms into my brain yet.
Pedantic Anglo-Catholic is pedantic :) But the Anglican communion is a confusing beast.
(Glad you took this well, I wondered afterwards if I wasn't being gittish).
Well, you are being VERY pedantic, but I do that too, so I find it eminently forgivable. :)
Although it's not just colloquial use, here; I've seen history pieces use the term the way I did. Hmmmm.
That is quite possibly the most poetic mission statement I've ever encountered. And I mean "poetic" in "great words that actually mean something".
I'd love to see how it works out in their congregation.
That's a great statement!