Worship … Anglican Style

Posted: May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

Take all those images of Westminster Abbey or St. Paul’s London out of your head. Worship in an English Parish Church is just like American rural churches that also have 25 people in attendance, except there is so much incense you can hardly breath and you are following pretty much the Roman rite of liturgy with a few modifications.

In my service this morning we followed the regular order of the mass, a Phillipino priest presided, and we had people worshipping who were Anglos, Asians, Africans, Lithuanian, Iranian and students from other parts of the UK. When we shared the peace we really were. And the coffee fellowship hour following was full of conversation about who was from where. Such is the life a city church in an English University town.

The young college student from Yorkshire told me that of all her peers at school she only knew of one other student who self-identified as Christian. The others were with from other religions or secular. I reassured her that the trend was exactly the same in the US and that we have to adjust to being a minority in the culture at large, leaven in the lump so to speak. That’s what Jesus had and for that matter the early church before being a Christian became politically advantageous after Constantine.

They struggle, these churches do. Anyone living in a post-Christendom era with too many church buildings, too few priests and empty pews does. Don’t gloat, American churches. We’re following the same trajectory. And we’d better get used to the idea that being a spiritual person in the midst of a spiritual community is not a majority culture condition – except of course for cultural Christians who just parrot the values of the culture around then for the sake of expediency. But that doesn’t count. Anyone can do that and they do. Popular Christianity is not the same as being a professing Christian who follows the likes of Jesus.

And so I continue to meditate on the relationship between faith and culture. Every faith tradition gets embedded in the culture to which it goes and nests. That is many times fraught with troubles because any particular culture does not reflect the Christian way. And we confuse cultural values with Christian ones. But in every case – whether Leicester, England or Columbia, Missouri – one has to ask how the Christian story, truths and way of life can manifest itself among these particular people. That’s a life-long project.

I’m leaving Leicester city tomorrow and heading to Launde Abbey for a week-long spiritual retreat among its beauty, solitude and long Christian tradition.

Comments
  1. Jane McGuire says:

    Blessings!

  2. Don Lanier says:

    We take the road less traveled when we walk against the wind of prevailing culture. It has always been that way, hasn’t it? And likely always will.

    We can’t help but lament the loneliness. But then, occationally, a kindred spirit joins us at least a little while, and our hearts are refreshed.

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