Tag Archives: anglican

sabrina’s quest, part 2

Today was my third week at Church of the Good Shepherd (a part of the ACNA), and I enjoyed it immensely.  I am finally getting used to the flow of the liturgy, although I don’t hope to have much else memorized soon.  In this post I’ll touch on some of the things I really appreciate about the Anglican way.  There are heavier, theological issues at hand, but I am not well equipped to discuss those issues yet, as I have just recently begun studying the Anglican tradition.  The following are some aspects that relate to me, according to my spiritual personality.

What resonates with me the most can be boiled down to one broad category, which I will unpack as we go along:

Anglican liturgy.

I realize that all churches have their own sort of liturgy.  The churches with which I am most familiar all have unwritten, informal liturgies.  There is singing, perhaps scripture reading, prayer, more singing, maybe a “greeting” time sermon, an offertory somewhere in there, announcements somewhere in there too,  and more singing, and then dismissal. Communion is mostly likely a monthly occasion.  All good and well, but there is a vast contrast between this liturgy and Anglican liturgy.

In the informal liturgical setting, the congregation participates little.  We sing, we greet others.  But we mostly just take things in through hearing (singing, preaching), and perhaps through observing words on a screen or bulletin, or reading scripture.  There is nothing inherently wrong with this, nothing at all.  I do wonder, however, what kind of picture we are painting of community, as a crowd that just sits and listens, and this is where Anglican liturgy comes in.

Anglican liturgy is formal, and written, currently taken from the Book of Common Prayer.  There are songs and hymns, of course. There are four scripture readings in which the church participates by thanking God together after the scripture is read.  There are antiphonal prayers.  There are congregational prayers of petition and confession.  The Nicene Creed is recited together.  There is sitting, there is standing (and shifting to face the Gospel book [or cross] when the Gospel scripture for that Sunday is read), and there is kneeling for the petition and confession, with an opportunity for both individual (space for silent prayer) and corporate petition and confession.  In a word, Anglican liturgy is interactive.  To me, this speaks more of community, more of action.

There are also perks in a written liturgy for a visual learner like me.  I can read the prayers as they are written, as I listen to them being prayed.  What’s more (and I am not implying that unwritten prayers are inferior), some of the most beautiful prayers I’ve heard were written down first.  As an avid reader and amateur writer, I always look for beauty in words.

Within the Anglican liturgy, there is a crescendo that sounds differently than it does in informal liturgical settings.  In the latter, the preacher and sermon are the focal point of the service.  In Anglican liturgy, the entire service builds up to the crescendo that is communion (or, Eucharist, Lord’s Supper, etc.).  The sermon is not neglected, but this shift of emphasis is intriguing to me.  I wonder about all the weight that is put on preachers to make them into a type of celebrity, while communion is only celebrated once a month.

This leads to the question…why do you go to church?  Is it for the preacher’s sermon?  Or something else?

That is for another blog, another day, friend.

Tagged , , , , , ,

sabrina’s quest, part 1

Here, in the South (now, I realize Virginia is only the tip of the iceberg; I have not experienced the deep South), there is an air of nationalism that makes me nervous.  There seems to be an expectation that if you love God, you will be unwavering in your patriotism, and always vote Republican.  This expectation is one of the reasons that I’ve been avoiding Baptist churches, since they always seem to be the most nationalistic. (I could go off on a rabbit trail here, but I choose not to.  If you want to know what I mean about nationalism, ask me in a different forum.)

So, if I’m avoiding Baptist churches, what’s left?

In the past, I’ve been a part of the EFCA, and IFCA (admittedly, my church was fairly progressive for the IFCA).  I write the IFCA off, because, you know, it’s the South.  What happens when one combines fundamentalism and the Southern spirit?  I don’t really want to know.  No offense.

I look up the EFCA, and find a church that is several miles away.  It seems to be a fairly conservative, run of the mill, evangelical church.  No problem, right?

Introduce Sabrina’s Problem.  Or, if you will, Sabrina’s Quest.

I’ve been finding over the past several years that typical evangelical churches leave me wanting for something more (yes, the church I grew up with).  You’ve got your worship teams + slides for music, your once-a-month communion, the focal point of the service, which is the sermon.  There’s usually no good visual art, lending itself to worship.  Add to the fact that seminary has ruined my ability to politely sit in church and take everything in without analysis; this means I examine everything. (Not that I never examined anything before, but seminary just gave me more ammo.) In summary, a typical evangelical service does nothing for my spiritual personality, unless the sermon feeds my mind & soul.

I’ve been slowly discovering that my mind & soul need to connect with something more meaningful than praise songs and a sermon and communion once a month.  I need substance and beauty that I can see AND hear.  I need some kind of connection with a tradition.  (Last year, I was blessed to have the opportunity to plan a Sunday communion service for my beloved IFCA church in which I may have threw some for a loop, but I am not counting on that opportunity again anytime soon.)

Well, there are a couple United Methodist churches down the street.  Okay.  Over all, pretty watery for Sabrina.  Watery sermon, bland music, although the sanctuary was gorgeous.

There’s also an Episcopal church down the street.  Not my first choice, for a number of reasons, but I want to see if highly structured liturgy feeds me, and if the beauty of the old church lends to worship.  There’s beautiful, historic liturgy.  An okay sermon that did little for me.  Hymns accompanied by organ and choir.  A gorgeous place of worship.  A focus on communion.  But…something seemed missing to my evangelical self.  There’s a prayer for the dead that I don’t understand, an overall sense of dullness amongst the parishioners, and I already mentioned the sermon.

I think I can do better, so I look up the ACNA, find Church of the Good Shepherd, and write the pastor, asking for a ride on Sunday.  I received a very gracious response, and when I finally made it on Sunday, everything clicked.  A beautiful chapel, scripture saturated & historic liturgy, a good sermon, animated worship, focus on communion.  Boom.

But Sabrina…Anglican?

Maybe.  Look for part two sometime next week.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,