Well, more or less.
Everyone, we have a new blog friend. Best behavior, now.
SaintSimon writes Normal Life Adventure, which is about just the things you might suppose. He's a Church of England
I recently asked him to share his reflections on his placement, and with his kind permission, I'm reproducing his comment here as a discussion starter. He definately comes at this stuff from a different direction than I do! I'll offer my responses, and I'd like to know what y'all think as well.
You are right that I would classify myself as Evangelical. I would say Charismatic rather than Pentecostal as it is less denominational.Wow. I'm reminded of what Jesus said about the Law being for the people, and not the people for the Law. And wasn't there something about choosing the lowest place at table? Ritual acts have purposes, and anytime the purpose is forgotten or that purpose is so unabashedly unchristian, the acts need to be dropped - at least in that particular context. I guess I just want to go on the record saying - and this as a sacramentalist who believes strongly in the value of a proper and ordered liturgy - anytime a "mistake" in the liturgy is worth getting upset about, there is a big spiritual Problem in somebody. Nobody has any business organizing a procession according to "importance." That's just gross. Same thing with "commenting" about stumbling. You don't want to drop it, they don't want you to drop it. It's not worth "comment." Some people do indeed have some disordered values.
To be honest, I am struggling at the ‘Oxford Movement’ church.
This Sunday I was asked to carry a chalice. I was told off for being in the wrong place in the procession, implying seniority over the licensed readers. I caused comment when I stumbled slightly while carrying the chalice. I got a bit muddled as to who was taking the wine. But these are peripheral issues. My main problem is that it seems to erect so many barriers between God and his people. ...
And about dropping the chalice? Or the Host? As Endo wrote, "it was to be trodden upon by men" that Jesus came into our lives. He's cool with that. He knew what he signed on for, to be frank. We ought never to be cavalier about the Mass, but failing to get the choreography just perfect isn't about respect or disrespect. And more importantly, it is blasphemous to make a show of respecting the Eucharistic Presence to the exclusion of respecting Christ's Presence in my brother. Full stop.
I also worry that the object of the faith has been diverted away from our Lord onto the various symbols. I resent having to bow to a man-made wooden altar when I have a living Lord. It feels idolatrous. I resent the altar rail, when the veil in the temple was torn at the crucifixion. I resent the vestments setting apart some members of the church and creating an outward beauty which seems so distant from scriptural exhortations to make inner beauty the priority. I resent the raising of the circular wafer – reminiscent of sun-worshipping paganism. Etc. etc.The purpose of Christian symbols is to direct both heart and mind to the Lord. Honestly, I try to keep this so much in mind, that I'm not sure what it would feel like to be really meticulous about the liturgy and not consider it to be a way of loving Jesus well together as the people of God. If it's not that, it's just stupidity. Honestly.
A catholic/sacramental theology maintains that anamnesis, "remembrance" in the biblical sense is a kind of "making present again." It's a reenactment of God's saving act in the present that both brings the acts saving efficacy from the past into the now, and is an invocation for God to continue that saving action into the future. When the Church gathers around the Eucharist, we are joined with the hosts of heaven, the angels, martyrs and departed elect before throne of God. If you're a science fiction fan (I stole this from Alan), you might think of it as offering a wormhole between heaven and earth. The Church is gathered in both places, and divine power is mediated to the Church through the Eucharist. When one bows to the altar, one is bowing to Christ. No thing at all, and no one else.
The altar rail, from what I understand, was a medieval invention meant to keep out chickens. And probably people. I don't like it myself, and don't have a defense for it.
As far as the vestments are concerned, I see them as a kind of uniform, that helps make the celebrant's personage fade and the action take center stage. I see it as a form of reverence. If that's not what's going on in a particular setting, it should probably all be abandoned in that time and place.
I'm pretty sure the Host is elevated because that's reminiscent of Christ being lifted up upon the cross, in turn reminiscent of Moses lifting up the broze serpent in the wilderness.
Also, although the popularity should never be the test of sound doctrine, why is there only 5 people in the congregation [not including the service team] on Sunday and Wednesday night? If reverence is the focus of the church’s worship, surely the first reverence is to actually turn up?Ooo, burn. :0)
However, there is some good stuff – the way for the gospel reading the Bible is carried in procession to the centre of the church and the congregation stands to hear it – we need more reverence of the Bible in our church. And if I am OK with this, perhaps I can extend it to other things? But even so, surely reverence of the Bible consists primarily in doing it rather than just parading it around.Again, definately, and I like your consideration of that. Liturgy is about enacting - performing - the faith in anticipation that it will give rise to further performances outside the liturgical setting. You know, like out there in the world.
I came to this church with a genuine desire to be open minded, and to learn, and to find out for myself rather than relying on prejudices passed down to me from my family background. For this reason I will be having a meeting later with the Sacristan who is keen on all his stuff and will explain its meanings to me. I still feel there is an opportunity for me to get under the skin of this thing and understand where it is coming from. I really don’t want to criticise something that is a true or at least acceptable expression of the faith. I don’t want to criticise anything that is genuinely given by God. Neither do I wish to teach as doctrines of God traditions of men that fly in the face of God’s intention. (Matt 15v9)Sounds like that won't be a problem. Anybody want to chime in?