Category Archives: Worship

All Saints Church Reads: Reflection by Paul Watkins

Last week we had our first (of many I pray) meetings of the All Saints Church Reads book club.

torranceThere were two meetings: one in the morning at 7 am at the Upper Room and one in the evening at 7 pm at my house. Over 15 people met and discussed the first two chapters of James Torrance’s book Worship, Community and the Triune God of Grace.

It is a short book that profoundly explores the depth and grace of the gospel of God! It is a book that leads me to worship and marvel at the grace of God!

The book club will meet again on July 24th (at 7am and 7pm) to discuss the last two chapters of the book. All are welcome!

Paul Watkins attended and wrote this poignant reflection:

“The worship and mission of the church are the gift of participating through the Holy Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father and the Son’s mission from the Father to the world.” (p. 9)

This sentence embodies the main thesis of Torrance’s book: that we live Christianly by entering into participation with what is already happening within the life of the Trinity.

Acceptable worship is already ascending to God – from our great High Priest in the heavens who ever lifts up holy hands to His Father in praise and thanksgiving; when we worship rightly, we do so only by entering into and taking part in the Son’s worship already taking place.

Likewise, acceptable mission is already happening – climactically in the Father’s sending forth the Son into the world to call all men to Himself, but also in the Son’s sending forth of the Spirit He received from the Father into the world to carry on the same mission; when we do mission rightly, we only do so by entering into and taking part in the Son’s and Spirit’s mission already taking place.

Which is to say, living Christianly does not mean offering worship and mission of our own to God, but in participating in what the Father has already provided for Himself through His Son and Spirit. This is the meaning of “grace.” It is not so much that God gives grace for us, extra nos, and we respond in faith and service for God, extra Deum, as two actions by two different actors playing their parts in turns; rather, our faith and service are nothing other than the faith and service of the Son through the Spirit operative in us, which is one and the same thing as grace itself, as one action by two different actors playing their respective parts in simultaneous, intimate co-action.

So our work (of worship and mission) and God’s grace are not two different things, traded between us; they are one and the same thing, seen from two perspectives. This is why we can never imagine our service to God apart from His grace (Pelagianism), nor imagine His grace apart from our service (radical Protestantism).

So remember, when we worship it is the Son through the Spirit that is worshiping through us. And when we go forth in mission to the world, it is also the Son through the Spirit that is going forth in mission through us.

All that we do, if we do it Christianly, is nothing other than what God Himself is doing while using us as His vessels. It is “not I, but the grace of God which is with me.” Which is to say, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” So let us be cooperators with the Spirit, and co-workers with the Son, joining them in their worship and mission as we are drawn ever more intimately into the life of the Triune God.

– Reflection by Paul Watkins

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All Saints Church Reads: Book 1

Our first book is Worship, Community & the Triune God of Grace by James B. Torrance. We will be discussing the first two chapters together this Thursday at 7am in the Upper Room or at 7pm at my house (1 Hampshire Court, Durham.) It is a richly theological book that draws my heart to worship as I read. I pray that it deepens our understanding of God as a triune being and our astonishment and experience of the gospel of grace! It is a book about how our Triune God is at work drawing us into himself. “The Father has given to us the Son and the Spirit to draw us into a life of shared communion—of participating through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father—that we might be drawn in love into the very Trinitarian life of God himself.” It is a deeply worshipful and pastoral book and one that has many echoes of Bishop Steve Breedlove’s sermon on Trinity Sunday just a few weeks ago. Join us tomorrow or at our next book club meeting on July 24th when we discuss the second half of the book.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen

Thomas Kortus

 trinity knot
Here is a short blogpost about the author and the book:

When the Rev Professor James B. Torrance died at the age of 80 in 2003, Christianity Today magazine chose to highlight three areas of his life of service – 1) he was Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at University of Aberdeen in Scotland, 2) he was known as a mentor to other Christian leaders, and 3) he wrote “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace” (IVP, 1997).

He had also been a family man and a pastor, and whether serving in pastoral ministry, teaching theology, writing, or in mentoring others, Torrance was keen on worship and on discussing in simple but profound language the relationship of grace and the continuing priesthood of Jesus in Trinitarian worship.

It is interesting to note that “Worship, Community, and the Triune God of Grace” [WCTGG] contains a mere 130 pages, and yet it has gained wide influence in denominations around the globe, as in it Torrance offers a brief but profound discussion of prayer and worship that is Christ-centered, incarnational and Trinitarian. The book is an expanded form of lectures on the theology of worship he gave in Manchester in 1994, and is also from articles he wrote or lectures he gave in different countries in the 70’s and 80’s. It has been pointed out that these themes have struck more of a chord in the last decade or so than they did in some theological circles in the earlier years. With this easy-to-read book Torrance is still helping “mentor” those of us serving in ministries today. Here are some excepts from WCTGG:

There is no more urgent need in our churches today than to recover the Trinitarian nature of grace—that it is by grace alone, through the gift of Jesus Christ in the Spirit that we can enter into and live a life of communion with God our Father.

Worship is the gift of participating through the Spirit in the incarnate Son’s communion with the Father.

The Father has given to us the Son and the Spirit to draw us into a life of shared communion—of participating through the Spirit in the Son’s communion with the Father—that we might be drawn in love into the very Trinitarian life of God himself.

Whatever else our faith is, it is a response to a response already made for us and continually being made for us in Christ, the pioneer of our faith.

In worship we offer ourselves to the Father ‘in the name of Christ’ because he has already in our name made the one true offering to the Father, the offering by which he has sanctified for all time those who come to God by him (Heb 10:10, 14) and because he ever lives to intercede for us in our name.

(Trinitarian worship) means participating in union with Christ, in what he has done for us once and for all, in his self-offering to the Father, in his life and death on the cross. It also means participating in what he is continuing to do for us in the presence of the Father and in his mission from the Father to the world. When we see that ….. (and) that the unique center of the Bible is Jesus Christ, ‘the apostle and high priest whom we confess [Heb 3:1], then the doctrines of the Trinity, the incarnation, the atonement, the ministry of the Spirit, Church and sacraments, our understanding of the kingdom….all unfold from that center.

We are baptized in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit into the community, the one body of Christ, which confesses faith the in the one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and which worships the Father through the Son in the Spirit. We are baptized into a life of communion. The Christian doctrine of the Trinity is the grammar of this participatory understanding of worship and prayer.

(We need to) return to the ‘forgotten Trinity’ – to an understanding of the Holy Spirit, who delivers us from a narcissistic preoccupation with the self to find our true being in loving communion with God and one another—to hear God’s call to us, in our day, to participate through the Spirit in Christ’s communion with the Father and his mission from the Father to the world—to create in our day a new humanity of persons who find true fulfillment in other-centered communion and service in the kingdom of God.

The first real step on the road to prayer is to recognize that none of us knows how to pray as we ought to. But as we bring our desires to God, we find that we have someone who is praying for us, with us, and in us. Thereby he teaches us to pray and motivate us to pray and to pray in peace to the Lord. Jesus takes our prayers—our feeble, selfish, inarticulate prayers—he cleanses them, makes them his prayers, and in a ‘wonderful exchange’ he makes his prayers our prayers and presents us to the Father as his dear children, crying ‘Abba Father’.

This blog post appeares on Trinitarian Worship:

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Redeem This… by The Rev Brad Acton

Liturgy is a pattern. The order of worship and the calendar of the Church are the unfolding of life itself. Good Friday is, of course, not only a twenty-four hour period for penitence. It is the darkness of our lives, and it is played out in the most dramatic horror that we can fathom: the death of God’s only Son. Easter Sunday is not, then, a mimicry of resurrection and new life. It is hope laid out anew, pulsing some type of light back into the darkness.

But both days end, and Easter Tide rolls on and will slowly melt away into Ordinary time with the coming of Pentecost. These may be a lot of strange words that mean nothing to the reader; regardless, we all know the dragging grind of life and the interplay between life and death. These are the absolutes of human experience. To be alive is to expect death, but death cannot exist without life. Somewhere in the middle of these forces resides the peril of human thought and the crucible of faith. It generates the questions that drive humans mad, or gives them life. Why believe, believe what, or simply, why?

We never stop asking these questions. Whether we ask them of God or the stars or just the silence of our souls we all ask them. I am soon to be an Anglican priest, which in part means I have to take reality very seriously. This is called being “sacramental,” which is just a big word meaning the very real stuff of this world communicates the most fundamental truths of the universe (whether you call that spiritual, divine, holy, or Godly). In other words, all this spiritual talk doesn’t “float between our ears.”

My family has experienced waves of death in the past three years. Grandparents, parents, siblings, and even children have been lost.

And we miss them…

That loss, for example, communicates the despair of the human condition. Death is the great and looming threat of loss that stains every single, beautiful reality of this world. It is not “simply” anything, as in being ‘natural,’ or ‘routine,’ or ‘normal.’ Death is the abyss, the final threat. And there is no beauty in it.

If death is a sign for the swallowing up of all beauty, then new life is the promise that all will be made well. This Easter Sunday I held my month-old-daughter in my arms, and she was baptized today, a week later. Her life is a sign, a type of witness of change, of making new. Maybe redemption. By this I mean that if God works this way, then her little life may be a demonstration that some things, at least, will be healed. But this is only a sign.

Because, of course, I will lose her, too, and she will lose me. To be Christian is not to ignore death, or hold resurrection as a type of comfort blanket when death reaches out to us. Instead, it is to walk in the valley of the shadow of death. This is the Christian story itself, that the Author of life took on much shadow and the weight of human flesh so that even the deceased could taste resurrection. It’s a promise, to be taken on faith and in the midst of our sufferings. It is certainly not an escape. It is only more horrible because of how much we value life. Life is everything, and if a God can’t save that, He’s not worth having.

I certainly don’t have neat answers to these questions or these problems, so I end this with a blessing for all of you this Eastertide: May you have peace in the midst of life, but especially in death. May you find life in shadow. May you receive love, even the love of God. May you find forgiveness, even if you must forgive yourself. May you find deliverance, even if you are lost.

May the God of hope guard your hearts and minds in all things, for Christ came to bind up what was broken, to heal the afflicted, and to die for us all. I pray you all many, many mercies this evening.

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Please join us at one of two services on Ash Wednesday (Feb 22), a rich abbreviated service at 12:00 noon and a full Eucharist at 7:00 p.m.  The imposition of ashes will be offered at both services. Childcare will be provided for infants and toddlers.

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An Invitation into the Observance of a Holy Lent at All Saints

Lent is the season of preparation – forty days plus six Sundays – leading up to Easter. Lent calls us to self-examination, penitence, humility, and renewal. It is a time to concentrate on fundamental spiritual values and priorities, not a time for self-punishment.

Throughout Lent, our worship services take on a simpler tone. The songs are more subdued; the liturgy is more penitential; the word “Alleluia” is not used. This Lenten way of worship encourages reflection and simplicity.

Many Christians mark the season of Lent by giving up something. Busyness plagues us all in our culture: giving up television, or taking one day a week to “fast” from email, can be a powerful Lenten discipline. Others choose a traditional fast from specific foods or drink. Others change and curtail spending habits.

But relinquishment is only the first half of a true Lent. Letting go of one thing creates capacity to take hold of another – so fasting paves the way for more prayer, or more generous giving to the poor, or more enjoyment of simple opportunities for “soul rest.” During Lent some people rededicate themselves to more consistent daily Bible reading or disciplined prayer. Others take a course of spiritual study. This year at All Saints, we are offering a special Lenten Discipleship Group,beginning Monday, February 20 at 7 p.m.  The class will read and discuss Christopher Jamison’s book Finding Sanctuary, exploring together lessons and practices from classical monasticism.

Special services punctuate Lent. We begin with Ash Wednesday, February 22: an abbreviated 12:00 noon service and a full Eucharist at 7:00 p.m. (Childcare offered at both.) On March 18 we will observe the Stations of the Cross in a Prayer Service in the late afternoon. Lent reaches a climax with Holy Week services – Palm Sunday (April 1), April 5 Maundy Thursday footwashing and Eucharist (7:00 p.m.) and the April 6 Good Friday service (7:00 p.m.)

Lent is also an especially appropriate time for a service of personal confession. Confession to a priest is not required, but for many, making a confession to a priest can be a powerful time of spiritual reconciliation and healing. Please contact Rector Steve Breedlove or Associate Rector Thomas Kortus if you would like to meet for a service of personal confession and reconciliation.

Finally, during Lent we will be preaching through the Letters to the Seven Churches in Revelation. Throughout the season, the Sunday Sermon Notes insert will include questions for further study and prayer. Use them personally, with your 242 group or with friends or family members.

We pray that God will use this 2012 Lenten season to draw us into greater intimacy with himself and to form us into a truer likeness of his Son.

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Baptism Photos from Christ the King Sunday

This past Sunday was Christ the King Sunday. It was a joyous service. We praised God and intentionally lifted up Jesus as the king of the universe. His kingship is marked by authority, power, glory and might – but also by humility. He rules over all because he is the servant of all.

This past Sunday was also a joyous morning because four babies and one man were baptized. Pray for those that were baptized: William Curry, Madeline Wright, Sally Uecker, Jonah Meckley, Ryan Grove. My absolute favorite prayer for anyone comes in the baptismal liturgy. Look for it below the pictures. What a beautiful Sunday. There was even a banjo playing with the music team! It does not get better than that.

Praise to the Father. Praise to the Son. Praise to the Holy Spirit. Praise Almighty God Three in One!

Deliver them, O Lord, from the way of sin and death. Lord, hear our prayer.

Open their hearts to your grace and truth. Lord, hear our prayer.

Fill them with your holy and life-giving Spirit. Lord, hear our prayer.

Keep them in the faith and communion of your holy Church. Lord, hear our prayer.

Teach them to love others in the power of the Spirit. Lord, hear our prayer.

Send them into the world in witness to your love. Lord, hear our prayer.

Bring them to the fullness of your peace and glory. Lord, hear our prayer.

– thomas kortus

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Resources for Exploring the Anglican Tradition

Here is an annotated bibliography for those interested in learning more about the spirituality, beliefs, and history of the Anglican tradition (descriptions are from the publishers). Of course, this is not an exhaustive list, but a place to start in the journey. Please feel free to suggest others in the comments!

Beyond Smells and Bells: The Wonder and Power of Christian Liturgy By. Mark Galli 

Are you attracted to liturgy but don’t know why? Are you considering changing to liturgical tradition? Are you already immersed in liturgical worship but want to grasp its deeper significance? Beyond Smells and Bells addresses the lure and relevance of liturgy for your life today.

Thousands of Christians become interested in liturgy each year for the first time, as they turn to orthodoxy, tradition, and the lasting rituals of the Christian faith. In a culture that values spontaneity, liturgy grounds us in something enduring. In a culture that assumes truth is a product of the mind, liturgy helps us experience truth in mind, body, and spirit. In Mark Galli’s able telling, liturgy is an intriguing story, full of mystery, that transforms us.

The Sacramental Life by David DeSilva 

What happens when old meets new? As David deSilva has experienced the ancient wisdom of the Book of Common Prayer, he’s been formed spiritually in deep and lasting ways. In these pages, he offers you a brand new way to use the Book of Common Prayer, that you too might experience new growth, new intimacy with God and a new lens through which to view the world. Focusing on the four sacramental rites of baptism, Eucharist, marriage and burial, deSilva explores each one in depth through the prayers, liturgies and Scripture readings of the Book of Common Prayer, and then adds his own devotional exercises that help you immediately apply what you’ve reflected on. As you read and contemplate the material, you may notice old habits, wrong beliefs and negative patterns being replaced with new desires and perspectives that help you draw ever closer to God. In this innovative and engaging resource David deSilva invites you in to a new way of being spiritually formed through an old book that has shaped thousands of disciples through the years. “I hope that, as you read and pray through this guide,” he writes, “you will discover afresh the ways in which the rites contained in the Book of Common Prayer facilitate a genuine encounter with God, and a transforming experience of grace.”

The Reformation By. Owen Chadwick   

The beginning of the sixteenth century brought growing pressure within the Western Church for Reformation. The popes could not hold Western Christendom together and there was confusion about Church reform. What some believed to be abuses, others found acceptable. Nevertheless over the years three aims emerged: to reform the exactions of churchmen, to correct errors of doctrines and to improve the moral awareness of society. As a result, Western Europe divided into a Catholic South and Protestant North. Across the no man’s land between them were fought the bitterest wars of religion in Christian history. This third volume of “The Penguin History of the Church” deals with the formative work of Erasmus, Luther, Zwingli and Calvin, and analyses the special circumstances of the English Reformation as well as the Jesuits and the Counter-Reformation.

Glorious Companions: five centuries of Anglican Spirituality by Richard Schmit  

This wonderful compendium of religious biographies offers a look inside the hearts and minds of significant shapers of Anglican spirituality over the past five centuries — Thomas Cranmer, John Donne, George Herbert, John Wesley, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and many more.

Covering twenty-nine of the most influential Anglican figures from the sixteenth century to the present, Richard H. Schmidt deftly chronicles their lives and work while capturing at the same time the deep personal faith that they have managed to communicate so powerfully to the rest of the world.

These icons of the Christian faith include not only bishops and scholars but also housewives, poets, novelists, and teachers. Each chapter contains a brief biographical sketch of its subject, a selection of short, representative quotations from his or her writings, and several questions for reflection and discussion.

Written in a personable style that brings readers into direct contact with some of the church’s most admired witnesses, Glorious Companions will be valued both as a collection of insightful biographical information and as a lasting source of inspiration.

Evangelical is Not Enough By. Thomas Howard 

In this deeply moving narrative, Thomas Howard describes his pilgrimage from Evangelicalism (which he loves and reveres as the religion of his youth) to liturgical Christianity. He soon afterward became a Roman Catholic. He describes Evangelicalism with great sympathy and then examines more formal, liturgical worship with the freshness of someone discovering for the first time what his soul had always hungered for. This is a book of apologetics without polemics. Non-Catholics will gain an appreciation of the formal and liturgical side of Catholicism. Catholics will see with fresh eyes the beauty of their tradition. Worship, prayer, the Blessed Virgin, the Mass, and the liturgical year are taken one after the other, and what may have seemed routine and repetitive suddenly comes to life under the enchanting wand of Howard’s beautiful prose. Howard unfolds for us just what occurs in the vision and imagination of a Christian who, nurtured in the earnestness of Protestant Evangelicalism, finds himself yearning for “whatever-it-is” that has been there in the Church for 2000 years. It traces Howard’s soul-searching and shows why he believes the practices of the liturgical Church are an invaluable aid for any Christian’s spiritual life. Reminiscent of the style and scope of Newman, Lewis and Knox, this book is destined to be a classic.

Living the Christian Year: Time to Inhabit the Story of God by Bobby Gross  

Infuse your days with meaning. You are part of a larger Story. And the One who began the Story is at work today, in your life, in the midst of your meetings and bills and family activities that make the days rush by and blur together. In these pages Bobby Gross opens to you–and opens you to–the liturgical year, helping you inhabit God’s Story every day.

Remembering God’s work, Christ’s death and resurrection, and the Spirit’s coming will change you, drawing you into deeper intimacy with God and pointing your attention to the work of the Father, Son and Spirit right now, in and around you.

You’ll be reminded daily that your life is bigger than just you, that you are part of God’s huge plan that started before time and will continue into eternity.

Whether you’re familiar or unfamiliar with following the liturgical year, this book makes it easy to do, offering here the significance and history of each season, ideas for living out God’s Story in your own life, and devotions that follow the church calendar for each day of the year. “The power that overshadowed Mary and raised Jesus from the dead also guarantees the final redemption of all things in him; that same power is at work in us now,” Gross writes. “Keeping liturgical time, making it sacred, opens us further to this power as, year after year, we rehearse the Story of God–remembering with gratitude, anticipating with hope–and over time live more deeply the Story of our lives.”

Ancient-Future Faith: Rethinking Evangelicalism for a Postmodern World by Robert Webber  

In a world marked by relativism, individualism, pluralism, and the transition from a modern to a postmodern worldview, evangelical Christians must find ways to re-present the historic faith.

In his provocative new work, Ancient-Future Faith, Robert E. Webber contends that present-day evangelicalism is a product of modernity. Allegiance to modernity, he argues, must be relinquished to free evangelicals to become more consistently historic. Empowerment to function in our changing culture will be found by adapting the classical tradition to our postmodern time. Webber demonstrates the implications in the key areas of church, worship, spirituality, evangelism, nurture, and mission.

Webber writes, “The fundamental concern of Ancient-Future Faithis to find points of contact between classical Christianity and postmodern thought. Classical Christianity was shaped in a pagan and relativistic society much like our own. Classical Christianity was not an accommodation to paganism but an alternative practice of life. Christians in a postmodern world will succeed, not by watering down the faith, but by being a counter cultural community that invites people to be shaped by the story of Israel and Jesus.”

A substantial appendix explores the development of authority in the early church, an important issue for evangelicals in a society that shares many features with the Roman world of early Christians. Students, professors, pastors, and laypeople concerned with the church’s effective response to a postmodern world will benefit from this paradigmatic volume. Informative tables and extensive bibliographies enhance the book’s educational value.

Never Silent By Thaddeus Barnum 

Thaddeus Barnum deftly and honestly recounts firsthand the remarkable events and intrigue surrounding the Anglican-Episcopal crisis over the blatant denial of Scripture and the ordination of openly gay ministers. But while this is a story that continues to capture international media attention, as Rwandan bishop John Rucyahana insists, It’s not merely about the gay issue. It’s about the gospel, and who Christ is. “You need to hear this story. You may not be Episcopalian, but what happened to them is already happening to you.” Carefully documented and yet powerfully told, with complete index. Foreword by Rick Warren; endorsements by J. I. Packer, Chuck Colson, and Christianity Today Managing Editor, Mark Galli.

Lancelot Andrewes and His Private Devotions by Alexander Whyte 

Lancelot Andrewes was born of honest and godly parents in 1555. In 1603 he assisted at the coronation of James I. In 1605 he was raised to be Bishop of Chichester, and he was one of the translators of the Bible in 1607. He was one of the most popular preachers of his day, and well beloved amongst the laity and the clergy alike. But for all of his worldly accomplishments, it is for his private devotions-never intended for publication-that he is best remembered. With that entrancing book open before us we search the histories and the biographies of his time; the home and the foreign politics of his time; the State papers, the Church controversies, and not least the Court scandals and the criminal reports of his time, with the keenest interest and the most solicitous anxiety. A timeless treasure of Anglican spirituality, now once again available from the Apocryphile Press.

Book of Homilies Edited By. John Griffiths

The Book of Homilies contains the authorized sermons of the Church of England. Originally published in two volumes during the reigns of Edward VI and Elizabeth I, the homilies were intended to provide for the Church a new model of simplified topical preaching, as well as to perpetuate the theology of the English Reformation.

 The Accidental Anglican: The Surprising Appeal of the Liturgical Church by. Todd Hunter

Many are longing for historical connectedness and for theology that is “not tied to the whims of contemporary culture, but to apostolic-era understandings of Christian faith and practice.” They also yearn for rhythms and routines that build spiritual health. Still others are responding to a call to participate in worship rather than merely sitting back and looking at a stage. Liturgy offers all of this and more. In this book Todd Hunter chronicles his journey from the Jesus People movement and national leadership in the Vineyard to eventually becoming an Anglican Bishop. Along the way he explains why an evangelical Christian might be drawn to the liturgical way. Curious about the meaning of liturgy? Come and discover what may be waiting for you there.

The Faith We Confess: An Exposition of the Thirty-Nine Articles by Gerald L Bray

The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion are one of the three historic ‘formularies’ (constitutional documents) of the Church of England. Along with the Book of Common Prayer and the Ordinal they gave the church its distinctive identity at the time of the Reformation, an identity which has had a formative infl uence on worldwide Anglicanism. The English formularies have played an exceptionally important role in shaping the Anglican Communion and they continue to serve as reference points whenever it is necessary to think in terms of a common Anglican tradition. In the confusion caused by recent developments, it is encouraging that in many parts of the Anglican Communion some have returned to these sources to satisfy a genuine hunger for both Anglican tradition and sound Christian doctrine. It is to meet this growing demand that this book has been written. Although the Articles have had a chequered historical career, the intention of this book is to take them as they now stand and interpret what they mean for us today. Historical circumstances cannot be avoided completely and will be mentioned as necessary, but the main emphasis here is theological. What do the Articles say about what we believe and how should they be understood and applied by us today? Read on! Gerald Bray is director of research for the Latimer Trust and research professor at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, USA.

The History of the English Church by John R.H. Moorman 

This authoritative account of the Church in England covers its history from earliest times to the late twentieth century. Includes chapters on the Roman, Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norman, and Medieval periods before a description of the Reformation and its effects, the Stuart period, and the Industrial Age, with a final chapter on the modern church through 1972.

Thomas Cranmer: A Life by. Dr. Diarmaid MacCulloch

Thomas Cranmer, the architect of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, was the archbishop of Canterbury who guided England through the early Reformation—and Henry VIII through the minefields of divorce. This is the first major biography of him for more than three decades, and the first for a century to exploit rich new manuscript sources in Britain and elsewhere.

Diarmaid MacCulloch, one of the foremost scholars of the English Reformation, traces Cranmer from his east-Midland roots through his twenty-year career as a conventionally conservative Cambridge don. He shows how Cranmer was recruited to the coterie around Henry VIII that was trying to annul the royal marriage to Catherine, and how new connections led him to embrace the evangelical faith of the European Reformation and, ultimately, to become archbishop of Canterbury. By then a major English statesman, living the life of a medieval prince-bishop, Cranmer guided the church through the king’s vacillations and finalized two successive versions of the English prayer book.

MacCulloch skillfully reconstructs the crises Cranmer negotiated, from his compromising association with three of Henry’s divorces, the plot by religious conservatives to oust him, and his role in the attempt to establish Lady Jane Grey as queen to the vengeance of the Catholic Mary Tudor. In jail after Mary’s accession, Cranmer nearly repudiated his achievements, but he found the courage to turn the day of his death into a dramatic demonstration of his Protestant faith.

From this vivid account Cranmer emerges a more sharply focused figure than before, more conservative early in his career than admirers have allowed, more evangelical than Anglicanism would later find comfortable. A hesitant hero with a tangled life story, his imperishable legacy is his contribution in the prayer book to the shape and structure of English speech and through this to the molding of an international language and the theology it expressed.

In addition to these books you can check out this lecture given by J.I. Packer

Packer is Board of Governors Professor of Theology at Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. He also serves as a contributing editor to Christianity Today. Packer’s writings include books such as A Quest for Godliness (Crossway), Growing in Christ (Crossway), and Rediscovering Holiness (Servant) and numerous articles published in journals such as Churchman, SouthWestern Journal, Christianity Today, Reformation & Revival Journal and Touchstone.

Why I am an Anglican – J.I. Packer

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All Souls: the Commemoration of All Faithful Departed

In the New Testament, “saints” are all the baptized, the entire membership of the Body of Christ, and in the Collect for All Saints’ Day the word “elect” is used in a similar sense.  But from early times, the word “saint” came to be applied particularly to persons whose lives bore exemplary witness to the grace of God in Christ, whose witness was recalled with gratitude by later generations of believers.

Beginning in the tenth century, it became customary to set aside another day, as a kind of extension of the feast of All Saints, on which the Church commemorated that vast body of the faithful who, though no less members of the company of the redeemed, are unknown to the wider fellowship of the Church.  At first a commemoration of the departed of the monastic orders, under Odilo of Cluny (†1049) it was extended to include “all the dead who have existed from the beginning of the world…until the end of time”.  Evidence for its English celebration is found in the Monastic Constitutions of Archbishop Lanfranc (†1089) and in at least four ancient dedications of churches and a college at Oxford.  All Souls is also a day for particular remembrance of faithful departed family members and friends.

The observance of the day was abolished at the Reformation because of its association with the doctrine of purgatory and the abuses associated with Masses offered for the dead, but a renewed understanding of its meaning has led to a widespread reclamation of this commemoration among Anglicans and to its inclusion in the calendars of the Church of England, The Episcopal Church, and the Anglican Church of Canada, among others.

adapted from Lesser Feasts and Fasts (1980) – reposted from Todd Granger’s Blog 

The Collect

O God, the Maker and Redeemer of all believers:  Grant to the faithful departed the unsearchable benefits of the passion of your Son; that on the day of his appearing they may be manifested as your children; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen.

A Prayer For All The Faithful Departed

In peace let us pray to the Lord.
Almighty God, who have knit together your elect in one communion and fellowship, in the mystical body of your Son Christ our Lord: Grant to your whole Church in paradise and on earth, your light and your peace.
Grant that all those who have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection may die to sin and rise to newness of life, and that through the grave and gate of death we may pass with him to our joyful resurrection.
Grant to us who are still in our pilgrimage, and who walk as yet by faith, that your Holy Spirit may lead us in holiness and righteousness all our days.
Grant to your faithful people pardon and peace, that we may be cleansed from all our sins, and serve you with a quiet mind.
Grant to all who mourn a sure confidence in your fatherly care, that, casting all their grief upon you, they may know the consolation of your love.
Give courage and faith to those who are bereaved, that they may have strength to meet the days ahead in the comfort of a reasonable and holy hope, in the joyful expectation of eternal life with those they love.
Help us, in the midst of things we cannot understand, to believe and trust in the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection to life everlasting.
Grant us, with all who have died in the hope of the resurrection, to have our consummation and bliss in your eternal and everlasting glory, and, with all your saints, to receive the crown of life which you promise to all who share in the victory of your Son Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

Father of all, we pray to you for those we love, but see no longer: Grant them your peace; let light perpetual shine upon them; and in your loving wisdom and almighty power, work in them the good purpose of your perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death, between your judgement and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and rest to the dead, to your holy Church peace and concord, and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; who with the Father and the Holy Spirit livest and reignest, one God, now and ever.

Lord Jesus Christ, who by your death have taken away the sting of death: Grant to us your servants so to follow in faith where you have led the way, that we may at length fall asleep peacefully in you, and awake after your likeness; for your tender mercies’ sake.

O Almighty God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, who by a voice from heaven proclaimed, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord: Multiply, we pray, to those who rest in Jesus the abundant blessings of your love, that the good work which you have begun in them may be made perfect unto the day of Jesus Christ. And of your mercy, O heavenly Father, grant that we, who now serve you on earth, may at last, together with them, be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light; for the sake of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

A Prayer For Those Who Mourn

Lord, Jesus Christ, the Resurrection and the Life:
You consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; draw near to us who mourn, and dry the tears of those who weep.
You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend; comfort us in our sorrow.
You raised the dead to life; give to our (brother/sister) eternal life.
You promised paradise to the thief who repented; bring our (brother/sister) to the joys of heaven.
Our (brother/sister) was washed in Baptism and annointed with the Holy Spirit; give (him/her) fellowship with all thy saints.
(He/She) was nourished with your Body and Blood; grant (him/her) a place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.
Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our (brother/sister); let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life our hope.

Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of comfort: Deal graciously, we pray, with all who mourn; that, casting all their care upon you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God, look with pity upon the sorrows of your servants for whom we pray. Remember them, Lord, in mercy; nourish them with patience; comfort them with a sense of your goodness; lift up your countenance upon them; and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord.

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What is the Relationship Between Social Justice and Kingdom Work?

Social justice apart from the church not ‘kingdom work,’ author says 
By Terry Goodrich
Thursday, October 20, 2011 
WACO, Texas (ABP) — A rising generation of Christians intent on working for social justice must not confuse that effort with “kingdom work,” award-winning Christian author Scot McKnight said during the Parchman Endowed Lectures series at Baylor University’s Truett Theological Seminary.”In our country, the younger generation is becoming obsessed with social justice,” including through government opportunities, politics and voting, said McKnight, author of The Jesus Creed:Loving God, Loving Others.“What it’s doing is leading young Christians out of the church and into the public sector to do what they call ‘kingdom work.’

“I want to raise a red flag here: There is no such thing as kingdom work outside the church — and I don’t mean the building. The kingdom is about King Jesus and King Jesus’ people and King Jesus’ ethics for King Jesus’ people.

“Social justice outside the church is not biblical justice or kingdom work. It is social work. Fine, that’s a good thing. But let’s not call this kingdom work.”

Instead, he called on listeners to make the church “a beachhead of justice and peace and love” for those in need in the church. Then, “let that kind of church and kingdom and justice work spill over into the walls of your community.”

Churches have lost sight in other ways of their mission of spreading the gospel of God’s atoning work through Jesus, said McKnight, the Karl A. Olsson professor in religious studies at Chicago’s North Park University.

“We like our music and our drama groups. We’re now more and more driven to act justly in social ways by engagement with the poor and despised, and we’re hoping that in doing this, our little lights will shine,” McKnight said, referring to the lyrics of a children’s gospel song.

Churches have shaped themselves using entertainment and business models — even down to satisfaction surveys, he said.

But “when will we ever learn as churches and as pastor/teachers that all we have to offer, all we have to tell people about, and all we have to show people is Jesus?” he asked.

Among the primary instruments for doing that are preaching and teaching the gospel, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and Spirit-shaped fellowship, he said.

Through baptism — with its embodiment of the death and resurrection — and the partaking of the Lord’s Supper, “the gospel is shown in a way that words cannot interpret,” he said.

McKnight recalled that in his youth, Communion often was observed quickly at sermon’s end — before roasts simmering at home for Sunday lunch would dry out. He remembered one church even set up a stand where Communion elements could be picked up by departing members.

He recalled thinking: “Yikes almighty. Drive-away Eucharist.”

“There’s no reason to rush the Lord’s Supper, because it’s the gospel,” McKnight said. “There’s no reason to tack it on to a sermon. There are good reasons to let the Eucharist be a sermon.”

Terry Goodrich writes for Baylor University.

Commentary from Scot McKnight written on his blog: I’m all for “social” justice. I’m fighting the trend I see today of equating “kingdom work” with public sector social justice work. As if “kingdom” is something done outside the church. As I read the Gospels, Jesus’ uses “kingdom” for himself/God as King, for his followers who enter into his kingdom vision, and for the ecclesial/social conditions created by those who follow Jesus and his kingdom vision. So, there is no such thing as “kingdom” outside those who follow Jesus. Yes, by all means, kingdom people extend kingdom into other areas but only so far as they are embodying Jesus’ kingdom vision.

Those on the right side of the theological spectrum may think I’m an ally of theirs on this point; not so. I want the church to be a kingdom embodiment and I’m not criticizing social work at all; I’m pushing back against the left-wing mistaken notion that kingdom is what happens outside the church, that kingdom is something bigger (and therefore other) than church, etc.. My view is traditionally anabaptist on this one. The local church is called to be am embodiment of kingdom realities. But kingdom realities only applies those ecclesial actions.

To listen, watch or download Scot McKights lectures at Baylor’s Truett Theological Seminary click HERE

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The Mission of Art : Christianity Today Interviews All Saints Church’s own David O. Taylor

David looking smart and pensive as well as bearded and hip

The Mission of Art

W. David O. Taylor grounds his aesthetic passion in the local church.

Christianity Today: Mark Moring | posted 5/18/2010

Growing up as a missionary kid in Guatemala, David Taylor was learning the meaning of beauty before he even realized it. Taylor names the tropical landscape as one of five key elements in shaping his own identity as an artist. The others: listening to his mother play classical music on her grand piano; watching his father tend orchids in the backyard greenhouse; reading “books outside my tradition” recommended by his Regent College professors, including Eugene Peterson; and “being given permission to try and fail—again and again—by the leadership of Hope Chapel [in Austin, Texas], as I sought to discover what an arts ministry was supposed to be about.”

Taylor, Hope Chapel’s arts pastor for eight years, is now studying theology and liturgy in the doctoral program at Duke Divinity School, with an eye toward establishing an arts center in Austin. He has just released his first book, for the Beauty of the Church:Casting a Vision for the Arts(Baker), with contributions from such culture observers as Peterson, Andy Crouch, Lauren Winner, Barbara Nicolosi, and Taylor himself. He hopes his book will “offer the church a theologically informed, biblically deepened, liturgically sensitive, artistically robust, and missionally shrewd vision for the arts.”

Question & Answer

What is beauty?

Classically, the approach has been to see beauty in terms of three qualities: unity, complexity, and radiance. The textured parts of Shakespeare’s Hamlet hold together in a way that keeps us asking for it again and again. But that can also be true of a Texas barbecue, the four beasts of Revelation, and the athleticism of Kobe Bryant. We shouldn’t stop with classical ideas about beauty; we also need to think about beauty Christologically. The moment we sever beauty from the death and resurrection of Christ, we risk sliding toward idealism or pretty-ism. In Christ we can discover the broken side of beauty, and it is in that light that we will find beautiful the self-sacrifice of a Mother Teresa or the terror of a Schindler’s List.

I might find something beautiful that you find ugly. Are we both right?

Yes. You might find the German language beautiful; I may find it ugly. But we find it beautiful and ugly for complicated reasons. You may despise bratwurst and German consonants, but that doesn’t mean that the language of Martin Luther ceases to be beautiful. We have to distinguish between the form of the material and our personal response to it.

How can the church better integrate the arts into its life?

It’s not that we haven’t thought biblically about the arts; it’s that we haven’t thought biblically deeply enough. It’s all there, as Andy Crouch points out in Culture Making: in Genesis and in the Gospels, in Jesus, the Icon of God and the great metaphor user. My prayer is that the essays [in my book] will stir us to develop a theology—a Christian mind about art—that is capable of sustaining a long-lasting, fruit-bearing tradition of art-making by the church, for the church, and for the good of the world, to the glory of God.


Age: 38

Hometown: Austin, Texas

Church: All Saints Church, Durham, N.C.

Family: Phaedra Jean (wife)

Reading now: George Herbert’s poetry, David Maine’s Fallen, Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine, and Harry Potter (in Spanish)

On your iPod: Russian choral music and lots of hip-hop


Copyright © 2010 Christianity Today.

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