Letters from 31 July
to 5 August 2007
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There is no
far-flung part of the Anglican Communion, dear Dean
30 July 2007, is observed as
a day commemorating the "Saints and Martyrs
of Europe". As the Anglican Communion continues to tear itself apart,
I want to commend to my online brethren a sermon preached last night
by my young colleague, the Reverend Dr Ellie Sanderson. She made,
I believe, some salient points which we could do well to note — even
in this far-flung part of the world. Click here for
the sermon on our Cathedral website.
Online continues to be one of the ports of call for my Monday nights.
Thank you all.
Revd Frank Nelson
Wellington, Cathedral of St Paul
Wellington, NEW ZEALAND
30 July 2007
No, we don't
attend church 'just for experiences'
I found your
week mystifying. (link) How can attendance at Sunday worship
be “a complete waste of spiritual time”? I know there
are some ghastly goings on under the umbrella of Anglican worship
(although one person’s meat may well be another person’s
poison) but if you were attending the Eucharist, you were receiving
Christ under his appointed sacramental signs, whatever your subjective
experience. And joining in public worship you are fulfilling your
duty as a baptized Christian, and acting charitably to your fellow
Christians: if everyone took the view of “only when I feel
like it” one Sunday there would be nobody there but the minister.
If you felt
unmoved by the experience, then it may well be good practice for
your daily life, when most of the time you will have no strong sense
of God’s presence, but will still need to serve him in the
world you move in.
be times when we are unable to attend public worship, and we are
bound to fall back on the round of our daily prayers. But that is
not the same as the life of a solitary, who will still be nourished
by the sacramental life of the church.
sound preachy. I really don’t understand what you are trying
to get at, unless it is some idea that you only go to church for
experiences. I do hope that’s not what you mean.
for your regular service to the Anglican Communion. I appreciate
it very much.
St Thomas, Finsbury Park
London, UNITED KINGDOM
2 August 2007
(Ed: We noted in our letter that we were away from
home and just visiting this parish. Through the years we've worshipped
in a goodly number of Anglican churches all over the world, and
generally our experience has been positive. This particular service
reminded us more of a 'theme park' than an actual church. Almost
invariably the priest presiding over a service gives the impression
that he believes God is present and welcome. This priest was probably
wondering what time 'Desperate Housewives' would be showing on
the telly in the rectory later in the afternoon. We can imagine
the adverts for this theme park: 'See a man dressed in genuine
priest's robes sing the creed and the sanctus and the Lord's Prayer.
See him sing the Prayer of Humble Access in 33 seconds. Please
trust us on this one: if you had been there, you would almost certainly
have felt the same way.)
this week (link) reminded me of our Archbishop's article in our
Diocesan magazine last month which led with the headline: "Tired
of church?" (You
can read the article here.)
A great reminder
of the privilege it is to meet with the risen Lord Jesus as we gather
with his people! May we never
lose sight of that privilege!
St Andrew's Church, Roseville
Roseville (a suburb of Sydney), AUSTRALIA
3 August 2007
(Ed: Mark, sometime in the next few years, we promise
that at least one of us will attend a worship service at your parish
in Roseville. It's a long way for us, but sooner or later we'll
make it down there.)
Don't be bored!
letter was a most insightful
analysis. (link) I have the same difficulty reaching a conclusion on whether to pray
alone or attend a rather sad and demoralizing little gathering.
Stay home and pray rather than attend church? For one week okay,
two maybe. Three weeks? I find myself rationalizing that I can worship
God as well watching Tim Russert as I can in church. It just does
ago I realized that the institutional church is not some mystic
cloud of believers, nor is it the professional clergy. The institutional
church is what people like me do in our spare time. If church is
sad and demoralizing it is up to US to do something about it. Priests
may cajole and plead and offer us new directions. But unless we
step out and take a few risks, we deserve to be bored.
Oh, and about
mumbling priests. I am 61 years old and have found that hearing
aids work wonders. By the way, I am blessed with being part of a community
that is faithful, Episcopal, progressive, and most definitely NOT
St. Anne's Church
Reston, Virginia, USA
3 August 2007
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