Category : Eucharist

(CT) Peter Leithart–Taste and See That the Lord’s Supper Is Good

Evangelicals need to thicken our theology of the Lord’s Supper, first by drawing more of the Bible into the discussion of the Supper, and second by drawing more of the Supper into discussion of the Supper.

Even a fine recent treatment of Reformed sacramental theology, Todd Billings’s Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, is still too thin on both counts. Billings does discuss the key New Testament passages—the institution narratives, Jesus’ resurrection meals, 1 Corinthians 10-11—and makes passing references to Passover and other Old Testament passages, meals, and festivals. But the richness of Old Testament theology still feels lacking. Billings observes that Paul sees manna as a type of the church’s covenant meal, but he doesn’t follow up the clue. If manna is a type, might there be others?

Many examine the Supper through a “zoom lens,” focusing narrowly on the most disputed point in historic debates—the metaphysics of the bread and wine. Much to his credit, Billings pulls back the camera to give us a wider view. In several “congregational snapshots,” he reminds us that the Supper involves people gathered to say and do, eat and drink. He rightly shows that a theology of the Supper must be integrated with the theology of the church.

But we need an even wider angle. Communion bread doesn’t fall from heaven. Wine doesn’t come tricklin’ down the rock. As one Eucharistic prayer puts it, the bread and wine are “fruit of the earth and the work of human hands.” Bread and wine represent nature transformed into culture by human action. A thick theology of the Supper needs to broaden beyond the theology of the church into a theology of culture. So, I offer a suggestive, not definitive, picture of what a thicker theology of the Supper might look like—a pencil drawing, not a portrait.

Read it all.

Posted in Eucharist, Evangelicals, Holy Week, Sacramental Theology

(TLC Covenant) Eugene Schlesinger–Things Fall Apart: Musings on TEC and Eucharistic Hospitality

There is a movement afoot in the Episcopal Church to remove our restriction that only the baptized receive Communion. In my new location, it seems to be diocesan policy not only to allow the unbaptized to commune, but to invite them explicitly to do so. Every parish my family has visited in the diocese has made it very clear that absolutely everyone is invited to the altar for Communion. I have found this grating, theologically. It disregards the proper sequence of initiation. It undercuts the long-standing historical practice of Christian churches. It renders incoherent any sort of claim to have a baptismal ecclesiology. Most important, it downgrades the central role of commitment to Jesus Christ and a life of discipleship to something optional. I’d heard of such things from afar, and now my eyes have seen them.

Recently, our family ventured a bit further north, into the Diocese of California, to a parish where the logic of Communion without baptism is being carried to its logical conclusion, which is also a reductio ad absurdum. The parish we visited did much well: the hymnody and chant were excellent; the liturgy, while using expansive language, remained fairly grounded in traditional forms. Then we reached the fraction anthem.

After a verse about Christ giving himself to his beloved in the bread, we turned a corner in which claims about breaking this bread with Hindus, Buddhists, Jews, and Muslims were articulated. While I am confident that the intention behind these words was to be open and inclusive, to express solidarity among people of faith, its effect was to undo any sort of claims about Christ’s uniqueness or the necessity for salvation, as well as to colonize these other religious traditions, rather than respecting them in their diversity.[1]

The canons of the Episcopal Church are clear: no unbaptized person is eligible to receive Holy Communion at our altars (I.17.7). This creates a rather interesting contrast in the current church.

Having updated our canons (but not our doctrine, as set forth in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer) to make marriage gender-neutral, there is a movement afoot to bring Communion Partner bishops into line, so that the trial rites for marriage are celebrated in all jurisdictions. At General Convention, Resolution 2018-B012 provided a means for doing this while also respecting the consciences, teaching office, and liturgical presidency of bishops within their dioceses. William Love, the Bishop of Albany, has caused a furorwith his refusal to comply with the provisions of B012, prompting suggestions that Title IV charges be brought against him.[2] Leaving to the side the question of the precise canonical force of a resolution passed by General Convention, and, hence, the applicability of disciplinary charges, we must acknowledge that this outcry is in some tension with other realities in our church….

Read it all.

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Pastoral Theology, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, TEC Polity & Canons

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Ascension, Christology, Ecclesiology, Eucharist

(CNA) Marriage and Communion: Roman Catholic Norms address interchurch couples

For the universal church and in the guidelines offered by different bishops’ conferences distinctions are made between the faithful of the Orthodox churches and the faithful of the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

The Catholic Church recognizes the validity of Orthodox sacraments and welcomes members of the Orthodox churches to receive the sacraments in a Catholic Church, although it cautions that their Orthodox pastors and bishops might object.

The U.S. bishops’ brief guidelines, published in 1996, said, “Members of the Orthodox churches, the Assyrian Church of the East and the Polish National Catholic Church are urged to respect the discipline of their own churches. According to Roman Catholic discipline, the Code of Canon Law does not object to the reception of Communion by Christians of these churches.”

For Anglicans and Protestants, the situation is more complicated and Catholic church law requires that they “manifest Catholic faith in this sacrament,” as the directory phrased it.

Shared faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist is not unlikely, however, because it formally has been affirmed over the course of more than 50 years of formal theological dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Anglican and mainline Protestant churches.

Therefore, the norms published by the Diocese of Rockville Centre, New York, in 1999 stated, “Episcopalians and Lutherans can be presumed to believe in the real presence. For members of other communions there may be need for some further discussion concerning their belief in the Eucharist.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Orthodox Church, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology

(CT) Peter Leithart–Taste and See That the Lord’s Supper Is Good

Evangelicals need to thicken our theology of the Lord’s Supper, first by drawing more of the Bible into the discussion of the Supper, and second by drawing more of the Supper into discussion of the Supper.

Even a fine recent treatment of Reformed sacramental theology, Todd Billings’s Remembrance, Communion, and Hope, is still too thin on both counts. Billings does discuss the key New Testament passages—the institution narratives, Jesus’ resurrection meals, 1 Corinthians 10-11—and makes passing references to Passover and other Old Testament passages, meals, and festivals. But the richness of Old Testament theology still feels lacking. Billings observes that Paul sees manna as a type of the church’s covenant meal, but he doesn’t follow up the clue. If manna is a type, might there be others?

Many examine the Supper through a “zoom lens,” focusing narrowly on the most disputed point in historic debates—the metaphysics of the bread and wine. Much to his credit, Billings pulls back the camera to give us a wider view. In several “congregational snapshots,” he reminds us that the Supper involves people gathered to say and do, eat and drink. He rightly shows that a theology of the Supper must be integrated with the theology of the church.

But we need an even wider angle. Communion bread doesn’t fall from heaven. Wine doesn’t come tricklin’ down the rock. As one Eucharistic prayer puts it, the bread and wine are “fruit of the earth and the work of human hands.” Bread and wine represent nature transformed into culture by human action. A thick theology of the Supper needs to broaden beyond the theology of the church into a theology of culture. So, I offer a suggestive, not definitive, picture of what a thicker theology of the Supper might look like—a pencil drawing, not a portrait.

Read it all.

Posted in Christology, Eucharist, Holy Week, Sacramental Theology, Theology: Scripture

Anglican Synod of SE Asia is in impaired Communion with Scottish Episcopal Church, Recognizes ACNA “as an Ecclesiastical Province in its own right”

Noting the decision of the Scottish Episcopal Church on 8 June 2017 to change its doctrine of marriage and to recognise same-sex marriages and further to amend its Canons to allow for the rite of blessing of same-sex marriages, which is a contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998; and

Recalling that as a consequence of the then Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA) proceeding with the consecration of Gene Robinson as a Bishop of the Diocese of New Hampshire in 2003, in contravention of Resolution 1.10 of the Lambeth Conference 1998, the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declared in 2003 that it was in a state of impaired communion with ECUSA (now known as The Episcopal Church)

Now it is hereby resolved,

That the Province of the Anglican Church in South East Asia declares itself to be in a state of impaired communion with the Scottish Episcopal Church with immediate effect….

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church in North America (ACNA), Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Scottish Episcopal Church, The Anglican Church in South East Asia, Theology

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in Advent, Christology, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Uncategorized

Christopher Howse on 1 word in the liturgy– the return of the dew that we hardly knew we'd lost

One word has been reintroduced into one of the Eucharistic prayers in the Mass which had previously been omitted by the translators. I’m glad to see it.

When I say one word, I mean it was one word in the Latin original. In the so-called Second Eucharistic Prayer the word is rore, which is now translated as “like the dewfall”. I find it not only poetic but very expressive of the way that God seems to work.

This is the sentence where it occurs: “Make holy, therefore, these gifts, we pray, by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall, so that they may become for us the Body and Blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ.”

Read it all from the Telegraph.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Baptism, Church History, Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(Church in Wales) Confirmation no longer required for Holy Communion–Bishops’ letter

Anyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion in church, regardless of whether they have also been confirmed, under new guidance coming into effect in November.

The Church in Wales is re-adopting the practice of the early church on admission to Communion ”“ the sharing of bread and wine ”“ in an effort to strengthen ministry to children and young people in particular.

In recent times, people wishing to receive Communion have usually had to have been confirmed first ”“ confirming promises made on their behalf at their baptism as infants.
However, from the First Sunday in Advent ”“ November 27 ”“ everyone who has been baptised will be able to receive Holy Communion. The policy will be rolled out across the parishes and ministry areas over the next year.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Provinces, Church of Wales, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

South Carolina Cathedral Dean Peet Dickinson–Is or has been Sacrificed?

The fraction found in both the Rite I and Rite II services in our 1979 Book of Common Prayer happens immediately following the Lord’s Prayer and before the invitation to and distribution of Communion. The Celebrant breaks the consecrated bread and then says, “[Alleluia.] Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.” The congregation then replies, “Therefore let us keep the feast. [Alleluia.]” Now, this statement comes from Scripture, specifically 1 Corinthians 5:7. Well, actually it is a mistranslation of what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 5:7, which is found only in the King James Version. The specific word that is mistranslated is the Greek word etuthe, which means a sacrifice that was completed in the past. Therefore, in most English translations, 1 Corinthians 5:7 is translated, “Christ, our Passover has been or was sacrificed.”

Now, why would this mistranslation make its way into the 1979 Book of Common Prayer when this form and placement of the fraction was never in any Anglican Prayer Book prior?

Read it all (if you need to know more about Peet Dickson see there).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Eucharist, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Get Religion on the Primates Gathering–TEC is in time out and its about Bible+Holy Communion

When you look at the current events in the context of an accurate timeline, it’s clear that (a) the Episcopal Church has merely been placed in “time out,” (b) that the global primates really do think this dispute is about the Bible and marriage, (c) that the state of sacramental Communion among Anglican leaders remains as broken as ever and (d) that all Canterbury has really achieved, with this meeting, is send the contest into extra innings (or perhaps “stoppage time” is a better term among global Anglicans)….the Church of England plays a crucial role, to say the least, in the affairs of the Anglican Communion and there will be tremendous political pressure brought on English church leaders to modernize their doctrines on marriage. Check out the first wave of incoming fire, in this news report at The Guardian.

So journalists: Eyes left. That is where the action will be in the next three years, while the Episcopal Church is in “time out.” The conservatives didn’t really win. They won on the marriage statement, but not on the ultimate issue of broken Communion.

Does anyone expect the Episcopal Church to compromise and move back to orthodoxy on marriage, after formally changing marriage rites?

Read it all (emphasis mine).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, --Justin Welby, Anglican Primates, Archbishop of Canterbury, Ecclesiology, Eucharist, Media, Primates Gathering in Canterbury January 2016, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(WSJ) How one Pastor Seeks to Forge a New Path in Brooklyn

From the Lower East Side, St. Lydia’s went to a borrowed space at the Brooklyn Zen Center. Two years ago, the church took over a small storefront space, using about $140,000 to renovate the room into a daytime co-working space complete with an open kitchen and windows overlooking the street. Much of St. Lydia’s funding comes from her denomination, and she hopes to grow the co-working side.

Nadia Bolz-Weber, an author and the founding pastor of House for All Sinners and Saints in Denver, is part of Ms. Scott’s denomination. She described Ms. Scott’s participatory style of worship as drawing in a generation accustomed to user-generated content.

“There’s a whole population that is culturally millennial that is used to participating in the content of their lives, in a way that a generation before them were only consuming products that religious authorities were distributing,” said Ms. Bolz-Weber.

Yet to create that kind of church, she said, you need a charismatic leader who other people want to hang around. “It demands everything of you,” she said.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Ecclesiology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, Lutheran, Ministry of the Ordained, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Urban/City Life and Issues, Young Adults

(AI) Peter Berger–Rethinking the Reformation

On October 30, 2015, a joint Lutheran-Catholic statement was issued after a protracted consultation by theologians of both confessions: “On the Way: Church, Ministry and the Eucharist.” The opening phrase means on the way to full mutual recognition and intercommunion, which both sides acknowledge as having been the will of Jesus and as being the intended final relationship between the two communities. [As a sociologist I must observe that there is also a tacit empirical assumption here””that the disunity between churches weakens the credibility of the Christian faith. This may be true in Europe, where both Lutherans and Catholics come out of a history of state churches””and where secularization, as a decline of religion, has gone farther than on any other continent. In the United States this alleged nexus between Christian unity and the plausibility of the faith is less persuasive.]

“On the Way” was published jointly by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest and more liberal wing of Lutheranism in this country (known, not always affectionately, as Aunt Elka), and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. There has also been input from the Lutheran World Federation, the Pontifical Council for Christian Unity, and the World Council of Churches (to which most Protestant and Eastern Orthodox churches at least nominally belong despite cacophonous disagreements). This document builds on an earlier joint statement in 1993 on the doctrine of justification, which has been a major disagreement between Lutherans and Catholics: The statement concluded in a somewhat tortured argument that there really were (or were no longer) any fundamental disagreements. It therefore decided, logically enough, to withdraw the solemn mutual condemnations (so-called anathemas, “accursed be”¦”) between Rome and its “separated brethren” (a phrase now considered impolite).

The gist of “On the Way” is a list of “32 agreements” (there is also an honest acknowledgment of issues on which there still is disagreement). Coming to the document as a non-theologian one is likely to be less than overwhelmed by what is supposedly agreed upon…

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Christology, Church History, Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Europe, History, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Archbishop Longley rejects synod proposal on Communion for Anglican spouses

A synod proposal to allow Anglican spouses of Catholics to receive Holy Communion has been rejected by the Archbishop of Birmingham.

The proposal, contained in the working document is due to be discussed at the synod next week.

If approved it would mean Anglicans being allowed to present themselves at Communion during Mass if they were married to a Catholic but unable to attend a service in their own denomination.

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham, co-chairman of the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (Arcic), set up to further unity, has criticised the move, however, saying it did not meet the demands of either the Code of Canon Law or the Ecumenical Directory.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, England / UK, Eucharist, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Daniel Newman on The Prayer of Humble Access

Early in the prayer, we are reminded that what we are coming to is a meal. We are invited as guests to a table where God is the generous host, not an altar where we make an offering to appease God’s wrath. The rubric refers to the piece of furniture as ”˜the Lord’s Table’ or, in earlier versions, ”˜Gods borde’. We shall explore below what it is that we receive at this meal.

This prayer creates in us an attitude of humility, helplessness, and dependency on God. We do not deserve to be here. We have no suitable garment of our own to wear to the feast. The contrast is repeatedly drawn between what we do not have and what God does, between what we are not and what God is: ”˜not”¦ trusting in our”¦ but in thy”¦ We are not”¦ But thou art”¦’ Cranmer alludes to our Lord’s encounter with the Syro-Phoenician woman, who says, “Even the dogs under the table eat the children’s crumbs” (Mark 7.28). This allusion is double-edged, for it expresses both great humility and great faith, as seen by our Lord’s commendation of the woman in the gospel accounts.

The Prayer of Humble Access has the same dynamic. It does not leave us in a state of hopelessness and despair. Although ”˜we do not presume to come”¦ trusting in our own righteousness’, God’s many, varied (”˜manifold’) and great mercies combined with his unchanging essence (”˜the same Lord’) mean that we do presume to come. Praying this prayer is an enactment of the gospel of God’s grace.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, --Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Provinces, Anthropology, Christology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sacramental Theology, Soteriology, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

(AI) TEC Bishops narrowly reject call to study question of Communion of the unbaptized

The House of Bishops has rejected the call to revisit the issue of allowing the non-baptized to receive Holy Communion. By a vote of 79 to 77 the bishops rejected Resolution C010 “Invite All to Holy Communion” which called for the creation and funding of a task force to study…[communion of the unbaptized].

During the afternoon session of the 7th legislative day on 30 June 2015 at the 78th General Convention meeting in Salt Lake City the House of Bishops took up three resolutions submitted for consideration by the Committee on Prayer Book, Liturgy and Music.

Without debate the bishops endorsed Resolution A067 “Revise Book of Common Prayer for Revised Common Lectionary”, which calls for the church to use the lectionary found in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and not the Revised Common Lectionary for services during Holy Week.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anthropology, Episcopal Church (TEC), Eucharist, General Convention, Sacramental Theology, TEC Bishops, Theology

Bishop C. FitzSimons Allison–Should we not say Christ our Passover was Sacrificed?

Why do many of our clergy, in the service of Holy Communion, change the words “is sacrificed” to “was sacrificed?” The short answer is that the word in question, etuthe, clearly means action completed in the past (was or has been). The phrase “is sacrificed” is a mistranslation of the Greek word. It appears only in the King James translation and is corrected by every translation since.

Read it all (page 15).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, --Book of Common Prayer, Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Diocese of London) Ro Willoughby–Welcome to the Banquet

It is a holy moment. It almost always is. At the heart of the worship area the long banqueting table, covered by a shimmering purple-blue cloth, is set. In the centre is the platter with a large flat loaf resting on a mound of red grapes.

Once the Eucharistic bread and wine have been consecrated, the children will flock to take their seats at the banquet. Each child will be given a hunk of loaf followed by a handful of grapes. They will be reminded by name that Jesus loves them, that he died for them, that he is with them always and everywhere.

The children are not receiving Holy Communion. They have not gone through a preparation course although at least once a year they all explore the meaning of Holy Communion. Their parents may stay with them if they are very young but this is essentially a ”˜children only’ experience. Prior to his retirement, Bishop Peter appreciated the banquet when he visited us.

The Eucharistic banquet is rich in symbolism and meaning for these children and for the whole church at St Paul’s Finchley. Let me explain!

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Children, Eucharist, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Pope Francis in his Angelus on All Saints Day 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
the first two days of November are for all of us an intense moment of faith, prayer and reflection on the “last things” of life. In fact in celebrating all the saints and commemorating all the faithful departed, in the Liturgy the pilgrim Church on earth lives and expresses the spiritual bond which unites her to the Church in heaven. Today we praise God for the countless host of holy men and women of all ages: simple men and women, who sometimes were the “last” for the world, but “first” for God. At the same time we already remember our departed loved ones by visiting cemeteries: It is a source of great consolation to think that they are in the company of the Virgin Mary, the apostles, the martyrs and all the saints of Heaven!

Today’s Solemnity thus helps us to consider a fundamental truth of the Christian faith that we profess in the “Creed”: the communion of saints. It is the communion that comes from faith and unites all those who belong to Christ by Baptism. It is a spiritual union that is not broken by death, but continues in the next life. In fact there is an unbreakable bond between us living in this world and those who have crossed the threshold of death. We here on earth, along with those who have entered into eternity, form one great family.

This beautiful communion between heaven and earth takes place in the highest and most intense way in the Liturgy, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist, which expresses and fulfills the deepest union between the members of the Church.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Ecclesiology, Eucharist, Other Churches, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Christopher Howse is worried no breakthrough for divorced Christians will come at upcoming RC synod

What is the point of this world synod of Catholic bishops on the family that is starting in Rome on October 5, a week tomorrow?

Most talk in the papers and in the crabbed and febrile world of the internet has been about whether divorced people who remarry should receive Holy Communion. This matters, because Communion is the symbol and channel of a Christian’s spiritual relations with God. And yet Pope Francis, who, we have learnt, is no friend of laws as a substitute for ideals, says that this is not the point of the synod at all.

The Pope often speaks openly when he shares an aeroplane with journalists, and, on the way back from his pilgrimage to the Holy Land earlier this year, he said: “I have not been happy that so many people ”“ even church people, priests ”“ have said: ‘Ah, the synod will be about giving Communion to the divorced’.” His difficulty was that he “felt everything was being reduced to casuistry”

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, History, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(WSJ) Francis Rocca–The Pope and the Divorce Question

For better or worse, change is not coming next month. This year’s synod is supposed to prepare the agenda for another, larger synod in October next year. That second gathering will then make recommendations to the pope, with whom the final decision on any change will lie.

Pope Francis could choose to leave the work of mercy in this area to a commission he established last month for the purpose of simplifying and streamlining the marriage-annulment process. The pope has suggested that as many as half of all Catholic marriages are actually invalid, “because people get married lacking maturity, they get married without realizing that it is a lifelong commitment, they get married because society tells them they have to get married.”

Focusing on reform of the annulment process could be appealing to a leader who, for all his innovations, has declared himself a “son of the church” on moral teaching. As the pope has said regarding contraception, “the question is not whether to change the doctrine, but to go deeper and make sure that pastoral care takes account of situations and of what each person is able to do.”

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Eucharist, Marriage & Family, Other Churches, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(Guideposts) Buzz Aldrin Tells the little-known story of Communion on the Moon

For several weeks prior to the scheduled lift-off of Apollo 11 back in July, 1969, the pastor of our church, Dean Woodruff, and I had been struggling to find the right symbol for the first lunar landing. We wanted to express our feeling that what man was doing in this mission transcended electronics and computers and rockets.

Dean often speaks at our church, Webster Presbyterian, just outside of Houston, about the many meanings of the communion service.

“One of the principal symbols,” Dean says, “is that God reveals Himself in the common elements of everyday life.” Traditionally, these elements are bread and wine””common foods in Bible days and typical products of man’s labor.

One day while I was at Cape Kennedy working with the sophisticated tools of the space effort, it occurred to me that these tools were the typical elements of life today. I wondered if it might be possible to take communion on the moon, symbolizing the thought that God was revealing Himself there too, as man reached out into the universe. For there are many of us in the NASA program who do trust that what we are doing is part of God’s eternal plan for man.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Eucharist, History, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Science & Technology, Theology

A Tom Wright Pentecost sermon

Pause on Ascension for a moment. The Ascension, frustratingly, is often radically misunderstood. The Ascension is not about Jesus going away and encouraging his followers to look forward to the time when they, too, will leave this sad old earth and follow him to heaven. The angels do not say to the watching disciples, ”˜This same Jesus, whom you have seen going into heaven, will look forward to welcoming you when you go to join him there,’ but ”˜this same Jesus, whom you have seen going into heaven, will come again in the same way as you saw him go into heaven’. And the point of that so-called ”˜second coming’, or ”˜reappearance’ as several New Testament writers put it, is not that he will then scoop us up and take us away from earth to heaven, but that he will celebrate the great party, the great banquet, the marriage of heaven and earth, establishing once and for all his rescuing, ransoming, restoring sovereignty over the whole creation. ”˜The kingdom of this world,’ says John the Seer, ”˜has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he shall reign for ever and ever.’ Amen, we say at the Ascension. This is the real Feast of Christ the King, and the sooner we abolish the fake one that has recently been inserted into our calendar in late November the more likely we shall be to get our political theology sorted out. And, boy, do we need to sort it out right now. If at a time like this we cannot think and speak and act Christianly and wisely and clearly and sharply into the mess and muddle of the rulers of the world we really should be ashamed of ourselves. Jesus is already reigning, is already in charge of this world. ”˜All authority,’ he says at the end of Matthew’s gospel, ”˜has been given to me in heaven and on earth.’ When he returns he will complete that work of transformative, restorative justice; but it has already begun, despite the sneers of the sceptics and the scorn of the powerful, and we celebrate it with every Eucharist but especially today at Pentecost.

Why especially today? Because at Pentecost we discover, as in last week’s Collect, that the Holy Spirit comes to strengthen or comfort us and exalt us to the same place where our saviour Christ has gone before. In other words, the Spirit is the power of heaven come to earth, or to put it the other way the Spirit is the power that enables surprised earthlings to share in the life of heaven. And, to say it once more, the point about heaven is that heaven is the control room for earth. The claim of Pentecost, from Acts 2 and Ephesians 4 and Romans 8 and all those other great Spirit-texts in the New Testament, especially John 13””16, is precisely that the rule which the ascended Lord Jesus exercises on earth is exercised through his Spirit-filled people. No doubt we do need ”˜comforting’ in the modern sense of that word, cheering up when we’re sad. But we need, far more do we need, ”˜comforting’ in the older sense of ”˜strengthening’, strengthening-by-coming-alongside. Just as, in human ”˜comfort’, a strange thing happens, that the sheer presence, even the silent presence, alongside us of a friend gives us fresh courage and hope, how much more will the presence alongside us and within us of the Spirit of Jesus himself give us courage and hope not simply to cheer up in ourselves but to be strong to witness to his Lordship, his sovereign rule, over the world where human rulers mess it up and ignorant armies clash by night.

So being ”˜exalted to the place where Jesus has gone before’ is precisely not about being snatched away from this wicked world and its concerns. On the contrary, it is to be taken in the power of the Spirit to the place from which the world is run.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, Anglican Provinces, Baptism, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Eucharist, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Sacramental Theology, Theology, Theology: Salvation (Soteriology), Theology: Scripture

Douglas Farrow on the Meaning of the Ascension for Ascension Day

Ascension theology turns at this point to the Eucharist, for in celebrating the eucharist the church professes to know how the divine presents itself in our time, and how the question of faithfulness is posed. Eucharistically, the church acknowledges that Jesus has heard and has answered the upward call; that, like Moses, he has ascended into that impenetrable cloud overhanging the mountain. Down below, rumours of glory emanate from the elders, but the master himself is nowhere to be seen. He is no longer with his people in the same way he used to be. Yet he is with them, in the Spirit.

–Douglas Farrow, Ascension Theology (New York: T and T Clark, 2011), p. 64

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, Ascension, Christology, Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eucharist, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Peter Moore–A Fateful Day: March 21, 1554

It was March 21, 1554, and the weather wasn’t particularly good. The sermon the Archbishop was about to hear would have been preached outdoors, but instead it would be preached in Great St. Mary’s, the University Church. The scene is depicted in a famous etching in John Foxe’s book Acts and Monuments, published in 1563.

Dr. Henry Cole, the Provost of Eaton, was the preacher for the occasion, and his message revolved around the theme of repentance and judgment. Cole pointed out that although King David had greatly sinned, and repented, he still needed punishment.

The Archbishop listened carefully to the sermon, with considerable solemnity. After all, he was the Archbishop of Canterbury. He was, furthermore, a very learned scholar and a man who, for nearly thirty years, had spearheaded a major reform within the Church of England. Thomas Cranmer was his name, and he was not in particularly good health at this point. In fact, he was emotionally exhausted from months of questioning by various papal scholars and bishops who did not share his Reformational views. He had spent time in the Tower of London, and then he had been imprisoned in Oxford for several months, most of it in solitary confinement.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * South Carolina, Anglican Provinces, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, Eucharist, Parish Ministry, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Lord George Carey's 2014 Maundy Thursday Sermon

Most people miss the point of the [Babbette’s Feast] film. It is not essentially about eating and food; it is about giving to others, it is about loving others, it is about reconciliation.

So it is with the Maundy Thursday meal that Jesus shared with his disciples. The food was important ”“ but the event was more significant than food. Jesus brought forward the Passover meal from the Friday to the day before. Jesus knew that this was truly his last meal. He would be dead by Passover. So his last supper, with his imperfect friends, was a Passover meal in which he was the lamb. He was giving himself away completely.

And like Babette, Jesus approached the meal as a servant. His is outer robe is taken off, Jesus vests himself with a towel and washes his disciples feet. They must have been completely overwhelmed and amazed, no one did that, except the lowliest servant, and Jesus was their leader. He did it when they were least expecting it, at the beginning of the meal, not when they entered the house as was the custom.

What he did was deliver a lecture about what his ministry meant, without saying a word.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Church Year / Liturgical Seasons, Eucharist, Holy Week, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Preaching / Homiletics, Religion & Culture, Sacramental Theology, Theology

In British Columbia, Anglicans and Catholics debate the Eucharist

When Anglicans and Catholics recently gathered to discuss their differing beliefs about the Eucharist, the atmosphere was notably friction-free.

“It’s awkward to talk about our differences because we can’t do anything about them in terms of resolving them,” said Christophe Potworowski, Redeemer Pacific College theology professor. “It’s not really in our hands. The point is really how to live with those differences.”

He and the Rev. Richard Leggett of St. Faith’s Anglican Church shared their ideas about communion with about 100 hundred people March 23. Much of what they discussed covered areas of mutual agreement.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * International News & Commentary, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Provinces, Canada, Eucharist, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Did Archbishop Bernard Longley say that the ban on giving Communion to Anglicans may be relaxed?

Archbishop Longley, wanting to sound positive, says that he could “imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing between our churches ”¦ which perhaps would lead to a reconsideration of some of the circumstances.” That’s all very well-meaning: but since the chances of prelate-speak of this kind being misunderstood by the secular press are about 100 per cent, it really would have been better not to have said it….Archbishop Longley’s fantastical notion that there has been a “deeper theological understanding of one another’s Churches”, presumably because of the work of ARCIC, requires a little more attention. What theological understanding would that be? The trouble with ARCIC always was (as a former Catholic member of it once explained to me) that on the Catholic side of the table you have a body of men who represent a more or less coherent view, being members of a Church which has established means of knowing and declaring what it believes. On the Anglican side of the table you have a body of men the divisions between whom are just fundamental as, and sometimes a lot more fundamental than, those between any one of them and the Catholic representatives they face: they all represent only themselves.

Read it all from William Oddie in the Catholic Herald (emphasis his).

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Culture-Watch, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Media, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

(Catholic Herald) Ordinariate unveils new Mass text that draws on Cranmer

A new text for the Catholic Mass which integrates centuries old Anglican prayers into the Roman Rite was officially introduced in a London church on Thursday.

The new liturgy, known as the Ordinariate Use, has been devised for the personal ordinariates ”“ the structures set up by Benedict XVI to allow Anglicans to enter into full communion with the Pope, while preserving elements of their distinctive Anglican liturgical and pastoral traditions.

The Mass, at the church of Our Lady of the Assumption and St Gregory, Warwick Street, was celebrated by the leader ”“ or Ordinary ”“ of the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, Monsignor Keith Newton. It was offered in honour of the patron of the Ordinariate, Blessed John Henry Newman, whose feast was on October 9.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Christian Life / Church Life, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Eucharist, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology

Church of Ireland Gazette–Vatican's rules on eucharistic sharing may be further relaxed

The Roman Catholic Co-Chair of the Third Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC III) has expressed his personal view that, seeing how in 1993 certain relaxations were made in the Vatican’s rules on eucharistic sharing, further relaxation is possible.

Speaking last week to the Gazette editor following a joint session of the National Advisers’ Committee on Ecumenism of the Irish (Roman Catholic) Episcopal Conference and representatives of the Church of Ireland’s Commission for Christian Unity and Dialogue, at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, the Most Revd Bernard Longley – Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and ARCIC III Co-Chair -referred to the changes in “specified circumstances” set out in the 1993 Ecumenism Directory.

He commented, “Given that that represents a change, and a very significant shift away from the impossibility to the limited possibility, then I could imagine and foresee one of the fruits of our ecumenical engagement as moving towards a deeper understanding of communion and a deeper sharing, a deeper communion between our Churches which perhaps would lead to reconsideration of some of the circumstances.”

Read it all and please note the audio link at the bottom for those interested.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * Religion News & Commentary, Anglican Provinces, Church of England (CoE), Ecclesiology, Ecumenical Relations, Eucharist, Other Churches, Roman Catholic, Sacramental Theology, Theology