Thursday, July 19, 2007

“Traveling Light” – Chapter Three

What hit me as I read this Chapter (“I’ll Do it My Way – the Burden of Self-Reliance”) is that Anglican Christian worship contains many correctives for this all-too-American way of thinking.

To offer an Anglican worship service takes the participation of a very large part of the congregation. Our use of music, liturgical art/decoration, available roles for both lay and ordained worship leaders and other factors involve a lot of people in preparation for and celebration of the liturgy. Anglican worship expresses the church as Christ’s body, in which each person is a part, and where all the parts are needed (as Paul affirms in I Corinthians 12).

The very words of traditional Anglican liturgy point us toward Jesus Christ, who is for us what we can never be for ourselves: “…full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice, oblation and satisfaction for the sins of the whole world…” Words like Redeemer, Savior, Mediator and Advocate fill our worship, announcing our reality as a flock in real need of the Good Shepherd.

Our traditional language for confession of sin is without parallel in portraying human insufficiency and Christ’s sufficiency for us: ALMIGHTY and most merciful Father; We have erred, and strayed from thy ways like lost sheep. We have followed too much the devices and desires of our own hearts. We have offended against thy holy laws. We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; And we have done those things which we ought not to have done; And there is no health in us. But thou, O Lord, have mercy upon us, miserable offenders. Spare thou those, O God, who confess their faults. Restore thou those who are penitent; According to thy promises declared unto mankind In Christ Jesus our Lord. And grant, O most merciful Father, for his sake; That we may hereafter live a godly, righteous, and sober life, To the glory of thy holy Name. Amen.

Anglicanism that is true and attentive to its spiritual sources teaches that I can’t “do it my way.” I am not self-sufficient to save my own soul and stand before a righteous, just God. Anglican worship connects and reconnects me to the Good News – “I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth; and though this body be destroyed, yet shall I see God; whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not as a stranger.” (Job 19:25-27, used in The Order for the Burial of the Dead.)

Looking forward to your thoughts. I will post on Chapter 4 early next week. Have a blessed weekend and may you hear the Good Shepherd’s voice in worship.


Alice C. Linsley said...

This is very meaningful to me as a former Anglican who valued the historic formularies of the Book of Common Prayer. Though I worship in a church that uses the liturgies of St. Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great, I still recite from memory many of the great Anglican prayers. Indeed the most wonderful thing about Anglican worship historically is that it is "common prayer" and common prayer binds us as one people to our One Lord.

TLF+ said...

One of our readers sent this by email:
Great article! Right on the money!... I love to say the old General Confession as a personal confession--"I have erred and strayed from Thy ways like a lost sheep. I have followed too much the devices and desires of my own heart," etc. It is a confessional prayer. Blessings, BettyLee Payne

Chip Johnson+, SF, CoJ said...

While I do not have the book before me, I have read it...several years ago (before South Dakota)), and I can only echo the comments of chapter three, and those of Alice and Betty Lee.

The importance of the liturgy, the 'work of the people' mandates a true 'common prayer', and I am much blessed to see the '28 readings, and the 'correct' General Confession...since we are all, of course, nothing but 'miserable offenders' in our own right, totally outside the provisions of God except through His Grace, and the shed blood of His Son, Jesus the Christ.

Anonymous said...

The comments above make perfect sense...except when I am angry or feel hyper-vigilant or impatient.

Without fellowship as a child, I came to disrespect the decisions that hurt. Teachings were "it is all in God's hands" but in my opinion, His decisions could be really really stupid. This was the powerful God who could decide anything. The "it is God's will" thing didn't work for me. "Jesus loves me, this I know..."? Right. I don't 'feel the love'.

It took awhile to know that that way of thinking, even in true crisis, does not work. Yet, I still do it sometimes, then bounce back to remorse and to the Confession. In His good time He has almost always revealed the immense flaws in my "logic", showing me why I need to slow down, pray, listen, rather than jump to my own conclusions.

Good for the world that I don't golf (and am not ordained as a priest). I'd likely slow down the game of so many around me by choosing the wrong clubs. Then I would bury my face in my hands in remorse and do it all over again, the next day.

It has gotten much better, though.

Another childish observation from,
The Friendly Lady in the Black Office Chair.

Anonymous said...

All of you are writing great thoughts--especially with regard to our "corporate" worship.

The only thing I would like to add is Lucado's reference to David's using his experience as a shepherd to describe his relationship with God.

Anonymous said...

I've also enjoyed reading these posts, and I think that our insufficiency apart from Christ is well expressed in one of my favorite Orthodox prayers:

"Graciously look down upon us, Thine unworthy servants, and call not to remembrance our iniquities, but according to Thine infinite mercies forgive all our sins.

"For although we transgress Thy holy will, we do not deny Thee, our God and Saviour. Against Thee alone do we sin, yet Thee alone do we serve, in Thee alone do we believe, to Thee alone do we come, and Thy servants only do we wish to be.

"Remember the infirmity of our nature, and the temptations of the adversary, and the worldly enticements and seducements which encompass us on all sides, and against which, according to Thy word, we can do nothing without Thy help.

"Do Thou cleanse us and save us! Do Thou enlighten our minds that we may firmly believe in Thee, our only Saviour and Redeemer!"



TLF+ said...

Received by email, from the Prison Fellowship site blogger who suggested "Traveling Light" for a summer book study.

Thanks for your message and the encouragement it is. I checked out your site and some of the comments; you all are having some great discussion. Enjoy the book! And thanks for letting us know that you’re reading along!

Kristine Steakley

Alice C. Linsley said...

Dennyt, David as shepherd is a type of Christ, the Good Shepherd. So is Moses tending sheep on Mt. Horeb. In the Orthodox churches both types often appear in iconography and in the cycle of readings.