by Greg Goebel
In which I continue a series on my own journey to Anglicanism. You can read the previous posts here.
We found ourselves in an Anglican church plant, and soon thereafter the church called its first Rector, and we moved into a museum auditorium.
Its funny that my initial experience of Anglican worship was in a clubhouse, and then in an auditorium, not in a gothic church with stained glass windows. But the church very quickly created sacred space and reverent worship within those multi-purpose locations.
As I mentioned earlier, I had quite a bit going on spiritually. I had questions about the catholic nature of the church, about science and faith, and about where we fit in terms of a tradition. I also had a spiritual dryness, in which I prayed, but hadn’t felt I really knew how. I had worshipped, but felt that somehow I wasn’t connecting with God’s presence (although I believed he was present). In terms of our family, we had a newborn baby and I was working full time while also in seminary. You can imagine that we had a lot going on!
Our new Rector, may his name be appropriately praised, was Chip Edgar. Chip arrived and quickly started “Anglican 101″ classes. He also took the time to answer my questions and his answers were very open and inviting, rather than being narrow and dogmatic. And yet he was very committed to both the Gospel and to the Anglican Way. God had led me to my new home tradition, to a great church group, and to an open pastor. Continue reading
Some lower church Anglicans are moving away from vestments while Anglo-Catholics have very strong feelings about particular priestly dress in the service. How have you decided what you wear on Sunday?
As I mentioned in my previous answer, clothing is one of the major ways people signal in our society. When I say “signal,” I mean that we send non-verbal messages to those around us. We tell them what our role and status are in society. An Armani suit and a Rolex watch mean one thing, while my Men’s Warehouse suit means something else. Class, ethnicity, politics, sexuality, education, and more are signaled by clothing. Continue reading
Introducing Anglican Pastor’s Lent with the Poets Series
Today is a day of new beginnings for all of us walking this Lenten journey. Ash Wednesday began the Lenten season yesterday and we’re focused on living into the disciplines we’ve undertaken for these next 40 days.
Today is also a new beginning for me as I join the Anglican Pastor team of writers. I’m really excited and honored to join the conversations that Canon Greg Goebel and Fr. Thomas McKenzie have begun here. I’ll be writing The Poetry of Faith blog on this site and I hope to introduce you to writers and theologians, many of whom are Anglicans, who inspire beauty and awe in Christian faith.
Beginning today, I’ll choose a poem each week that addresses or intersects with Lenten themes like repentance, prayer, and self-denial. I’ll choose poets who seek God because their poetry becomes an exercise in prayer. The ear of these poets is tuned toward heaven, to listen to the voice of God and his word of truth. With one word, one phrase, one line, poets spark reflection and prayer to listen more deeply for the Spirit of God in our lives. Poets are notoriously intolerant with facades, lies, and hubris, especially within themselves. They are often minor prophets, using lyrical verse to teach us the way of confession, repentance, and restoration. Poets can never replace Scripture, yet good poems are excellent companions to Scripture. They are lyrical commentaries on the Word of God. I hope you’ll visit the Poetry of Faith blog each week as we walk with the poets this Lent. Continue reading
What is Ash Wednesday?
by Greg Goebel
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent. Christians have been preparing for the celebration of Easter by walking through a “Holy Lent” since ancient times. This is patterned after Jesus temptation in the wilderness. Lent is a season of repentance, fasting, and self-reflection. Of course, all of this happens with the sure knowledge of God’s love and grace to us through Christ.
Lent and Ash Wednesday are in no way about condemnation. They are a time in which human beings, given a pronouncement of forgiveness and absolution through Christ, can be honest with God, with ourselves, and with each other. With the terror of judgement removed, we can speak truth. Ash Wednesday is the day in which Christians gather to receive the imposition of ashes.
Ashes on the head have signified repentance from biblical times. Job said, “I repent in dust and ashes.” Ashes also represent mourning, as Tamar in the Old Testament used them to mourn her abuse which was not in any way her fault, but which devastated her. Ashes are the result of burning. This burning in our lives is from our own sins and follies and from the abuse of others, and ashes represent both. They remind us that we are living in this mortal world, this fallen world, and that we are made from dust, when all else is burned away. We are mortal and will return to our maker. Continue reading
by Fr Thomas McKenzie with Deacon Tish Harrison Warren.
When do you wear a collar and when do you not? How do you decide?
The purpose of a clerical collar is to identify me as a priest/pastor in public. This is, theoretically, helpful for the same reason other uniforms are helpful. If you see a lady walking up to your house with a box, it helps to know that she’s from UPS. If you are having a heart attack, you may want to grab the guy who’s wearing scrubs. My uniform says “hey, if you need a pastor, there’s one right here.” It also says “I’m allowed to be here because I’m a pastor.”
The secondary reason for the clerical collar is to de-emphasize my individuality. Clothing is used to signal so much in our society—income, education, class, political affiliation, sports preference, drug use, sexuality, etc. To wear something that should signal none of those, but simply says “hear comes a priest,” is pretty counter-cultural. Of course, some clergy do tie fashion into their use of the collar. That Lutheran minister who tears the sleeves off her collared shirt—so you can see her tattoos and muscles—comes to mind. I normally just go with the black shirt and the round collar and have done with it. Continue reading
Ever wondered about the everyday, ordinary life of an Anglican priest?
Deacon Tish Harrison Warren asks Anglican Pastor Thomas McKenzie those questions you’ve always wanted to ask – but maybe were afraid to. Here is her description of what she is up to:
I am getting ordained in March and have the great gift of Fr. Thomas being, not only my husband’s and my friend and former priest, but also our official diaconal supervisor. I realized I have a bunch of really pragmatic questions, things that are kind of in the realm of those in ministry and liturgy wonks that would never be something that would come up in a sermon or a book of theology. I wanted to interview Thomas about all this day-to-day mundane priestly ordinariness and he was nice enough to let me. Continue reading
The Seeker Friendly movement was pioneered in the 1980s by the Willow Creek and Saddleback churches. The basic idea is one shared (theoretically!) by all Christians: We want non-Christians or unchurched Christians to feel welcomed, and be called to know and worship God through Jesus Christ. We want to understand the needs of our community, and seek to connect with them. We want to speak the language of our communities when communicating. No one can disagree with that goal.
Where we would differ from the Seeker Friendly movement, is the idea that Christian worship (primarily Sunday mornings) should be governed by the felt needs or expectations of non-Christians. For us, Christian Worship is for Christians to worship God. It is shaped by the Bible, by the Christian worshiping tradition as found in our Book of Common Prayer, and by the Holy Spirit’s presence. We are unapologetically not crafting our worship services to be similar to concerts, discussion groups, or self-help seminars (as great as those things are in the right context). We expect that non-Christians or unchurched Christians will find our worship to be different than other experiences in their lives. We believe that what we human beings often think we want or need is quite different than what God tells us we want or need. And we believe that the Christian worshiping tradition calls us to go deeper, to learn and grow, and challenges the blind spots of our contemporary day and age. Continue reading