A Word to the Wise
"brief, irregular postings"
A Word to the Wise is a collection of brief, irregular postings that I, Fr. Chris, or Fr. Terry will make via our weekly email newsletter sharing information that I think might be interesting and informative for everyone.
Want to submit a question for discussion? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org; mention it when we are talking at church; drop a note into the offering plate. They may be signed or anonymous. We will make every effort to address the questions promptly.
What do we mean when we say Christ is uniquely and truly present in the Holy Communion. Anglicans don’t believe in transubstantiation do they?
The Rev. Terry Johnson, Assisting Clergy
May 13, 2021
What do we mean when we say Christ is uniquely and truly present in the Holy Communion. Anglicans don’t believe in transubstantiation do they? Second question first, the short answer is no but about that later. The first question is properly called the Doctrine of the Real Presence. To handle this in the format we are using I’ll do a fly over. A complete explanation would take a book.
Until the Reformation the doctrine was never in doubt. It originated in scripture and continued in the understanding of the fathers. I will list here the passages I think most important keeping in mind all four Gospels have accounts of the Last Supper. I Cor 10: 14-17, I Cor. 11: 23-32. St. John 6:22-58 are three that are key. Again, space and time does not permit even cursory treatment of these texts but I would like to take a brief look at I Cor 11:23-32.
St. Paul in writing to the Corinthian Church said that he handed on to them he had received from Lord himself. This the earliest record of the Lord’s Supper. In the institution the Greek phrase is the same for both the bread and wine: eis ten emen anamesin. Literally for (into) my memory (remembrance). The phrase is difficult at best to translate into English or Latin. That said from St. Paul onward the Church understood that when she celebrated Holy Communion the crucifixion and resurrection were recalled and re-presented in a manner that included the present participants. To illustrate: When the story of Passover is rehearsed at Seder those participating say when we came up out of Egypt. They do not mean at that moment they are literally, factually coming out of Egypt. Rather that by faithfully recalling that moment they too are being set free and sharing in the identity of God’s people.Also in the Divine Liturgy the Church understood her people to participate in the redeeming act of God.
In the western Church from the Dark Ages onward a popular belief developed that said at Mass the crucifixion literally re-occurred. While it was not an official teaching of the Latin Church it was widely held.This gave rise to many superstitions and much abuse. During the 14 th century men like Thomas Aquinas tried to give the faith a logical foundation. Using Aristotlian categories he tried to explain how Christ was truly present in the sacrament. Substancia was the Latin translation for the Greek ousia, which can mean essence. For him it looked like bread and wine but in reality, it was the body and blood of Christ, after the prayer of consecration. Take note at the time he wrote it was considered heresy but became doctrinal at the Council of Trent, part of the counter Reformation.
When the Reformation began much of the abuse of the church gave rise to questing all her teaching. Also, in university Greek was rediscovered and with it a new or perhaps better said a renewed understanding of scripture. The whole sacramental structure of the church was called into question. For Calvin and Luther at least baptism and communion were special and important means unto God’s grace. The Anabaptist
extremes saw them as ordinances of the Christian community. They were outward symbols of faith. Anglicans tended to the Reform and Lutheran side of the argument. Because of Cranmer they had underlay of the Orthodox view of sharing in the one sufficient sacrifice of Christ’s sacrifice and his resurrected presence with us. In the Articles of Religion we rejected transubstantiation since explaining how over throws the mystery. The great Anglican cop-out it is a Holy Mystery. However they were right. Normal language often fails. This is beyond reason. Let me share my own understanding of this profound part of our life together,
When I first learned to celebrate the Divine Liturgy the old Anglo-Catholic priests would take off their watches in the sacristy because they stepped out of time into eternity. For them Mass bridged the gap between this world and the next. We prayed to Angels and Arch-Angels and all the Company of Heaven; the living and the dead before the Throne of Grace. We were in the Upper Room, on Golgotha’s rugged brow before the empty tomb, in the presence of God Almighty. You cannot explain that, Cranmer tried with words that follow.
We do not presume to come to this thy Table trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord whose property is always to have mercy. Grant us therefore gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him and he in us.
To share in the Life of Christ is to share in his redemption of the whole world. He is present in the Eucharist because he is risen. Because he is risen we have hope that our life will be made like his life! Oh grave where is thy victory? Death where is thy sting? Alleluia Christ is Risen!!
How can we guide and encourage adult children to become disciples of Jesus Christ?
The Rev. Ron Baillie, Rector
April 30, 2021 Eastertide
A parishioner asked the question recently, HOW CAN WE GUIDE AND ENCOURAGE ADULT CHILDREN TO BECOME DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST?
This is without question one of the most common questions many older Christians ask themselves and others: what to do about adult children who have either abandoned their faith or never really embraced it as an adult to begin with.
Every Christian parent wants more than anything to see their children grow up and live out the faith they of their youth. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
Many children as they grow older abandon their faith and their Christian convictions. Maybe it’s the taste of freedom from Mom and Dad. Maybe it’s the secularized environment we live in pervades most colleges, where religious faith of any kind is scoffed at. Maybe it’s a new group of friends or a boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse who doesn’t share Christian values.
Whatever you think the reason may be, the fact is that the statistics of adult children abandoning the faith of their parents are shocking but not surprising. the Barna Group conducted a study that found that 75% of Christian young adults leave the church after high school. And their parents, godparents, pastor and Sunday School teachers are often left feeling guilty for having failed in some way.
So, my first point is that no one failed at anything. Sooner or later every adult has to determine for themselves if they are going to pursue a life of faith in Jesus Christ, just ignore it and not think about it, or if they may even reject the idea. It’s also possible that they consider themselves to be a believer but choose to keep it private, not belonging to a congregation or sharing their faith openly. Any of these conditions are disturbing to parents and other Christians close to them. But hope is never lost.
So, what are we as believing parents to do?
Never stop praying for them. There are documented cases of some adult children who manage to wander so far from the faith like a prodigal son or daughter. Few things are more heart-breaking for a parent. But their moms and dads never gave up on them or on God, and eventually prayed them back into the Faith. For some it took years but they never gave up.
Many of us know that we ourselves went through such times in our own lives. We had experiences of not practicing our faith, questioning what we had learned about God and Jesus, and some of us have opening rejected Jesus, heading off in a totally different direction, and yet here we are today as disciples. So, hoping and trusting in God to draw them to Himself is primary. Lifting them up in prayer daily and remember Paul’s words to the Church in Galatia: “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9 ESV.
Be consistent in your own faith. One of the strange things I’ve seen is how many Christian parents lose their own passion for God and the church once their children grow up and leave home. The impression some adult children must have is that their parents were in church only for the sake of the kids. If you want your adult children to take God seriously, they are still looking to you as a model. I’m not saying you should put on some kind of religious act for their sake. I am saying it’s unrealistic for you to expect them to follow Jesus as adults if you’re not following Jesus as an older adult. If you were more lax about practicing your faith when your children were young and have now become more serious and committed as you have gotten older, find a time to tell your adult children about that transition in your life and how it happened. Trust me, they will be interested to know about that.
Give your adult children plenty of spiritual space. Allow the Lord to come to your adult children as he wills and as they can hear him. In other words, don’t insist on a certain expression of the faith, a specific denomination or religious style or doctrine that you prefer. Adult children need to find the Lord on their own and in their own way. Parents who insist their adult children have an identical faith like theirs are almost sure to be disappointed.
Don’t hesitate to give spiritual support to your adult children. Adult children will appreciate your spiritual support more than you may realize. Some parents in this situation send their adult child a daily Bible verse, for example. They select a single verse dealing with strength, peace, comfort, etc. and email it to them. In some cases, this will feel to the child like pressure is being applied. So, each parent has to determine how it may be perceived. Daily may be too much, perhaps weekly, monthly, or just now and then. Others send an occasional card with a clear, encouraging spiritual message. When you know they are going through a tough time, tell them you’ll pray for them. If they will permit it, pray with them.
After some time, if they don’t ask you to stop or interpret your actions as manipulative, ask them if its still ok for you to send those daily emails or cards. Ask them if you should stop, since they’re adults and perfectly capable of reading the Bible on their own. I bet they’ll say, “Continue.’
Don’t nag or seek to manipulate your adult children. If they’re not attending church like you would hope or aren’t behaving like you think they should or are hanging out with people you think they shouldn’t, one sure fire way to ensure that they won’t come back to their senses is to nag them. Remember that even the father of the Prodigal Son in the Bible was wise enough to follow this principle.
When the time is right, consider asking your child, adult-to-adult, why they aren’t practicing their faith. If you are able to nurture a relationship with your adult child based on mutual respect, no hidden agendas, no arm twisting, sometimes a frank conversation can bring out questions or issues you never realized had become barriers to their faith; a negative experience with the church that you don’t even remember or perhaps brushed aside when it occurred but that has left a sour taste in your child’s mouth about organized religion; or misunderstandings about doctrine and what the church teaches; and so on. This kind of sharing doesn’t come easily for some parents and children, but when this kind of conversation can occur it is a moment of true blessing. It’s a time for parent to primarily listen with no judgment or defensiveness and simply promise to pray about those things. Later, you might find ways to suggest they get more information or talk with someone who can shed more light, which they may or may not want to pursue. But know that God will be at work in that situation!
Helping your adult children stay in the faith they were raised in is a special challenge today. However, the bottom line is that drawing them to Christ is God’s work. Your influence is helpful but has to be done showing respect for them as mature adults. God needs to do the heavy lifting to bring someone back to the faith, or to the faith for the first time, and nothing gives God more joy. Remember, our God has great respect for each of our personal decisions, good or bad, and He will never force Himself on anyone. So, we shouldn’t force Him on anyone either.
If any of you are dealing with a situation like this, Fr Chris, Fr Terry and I are all available and more than happy to talk through your specific situation and pray with you for God’s guidance.
What is Apostolic Succession and are Anglicans part of it?
The Rev. Ron Baillie, Rector
April 19, 2021 Eastertide
As your Rector and pastor I am asked many questions from parishioners from day to day. I make every effort to answer them as accurately and thoroughly as I can, often seeking additional information to help clarify the issue. It occurred to me that although one person may be asking the question, many others might have the same or a similar question and might appreciate hearing the answer, too.
With that in mind I am initiating a new way for us to share questions and answers called, A WORD FOR THE WISE. These will be brief, irregular postings that I, or Fr. Chris or Fr. Terry will make via our weekly email newsletter sharing information that I think might be interesting and informative for everyone. Brief is the key word, as some questions have been answered with entire books over the years, but we’ll make every effort to be concise and to the point.
I already have a list in my mind of questions and answers that have been asked of me recently, but I am also soliciting your questions going forward. You can get them to me in a number of ways: send me an email at email@example.com; mention it when we are talking at church; drop a note into the offering plate. They may be signed or anonymous. I will make every effort to address the questions promptly. So, let me begin with one today:
#1 What is Apostolic succession and are Anglicans part of it?
Answering the second part of the question first and succinctly, Yes, clergy in the Anglican Church are in the line of apostolic succession.
In the very early days of the Church, authority was found in the apostles themselves. As the growing church struggled with various questions, they turned to those who knew Jesus firsthand for guidance and authority. But once the apostles had gone on to their eternal reward, how was authority in the church to be continued? Anyone could say they were an ‘authority’ unless a plan for authority succession was put into place and accepted.
That’s where apostolic succession comes in. The apostles would ‘pass on’ their authority to others to be carried forward. That’s the way the next generation of bishops came about after the apostles. And those bishops passed the authority on to the next generation of bishops and presbyters (priests) and so on. The sign of the ‘authority transfer’ was via the laying on of hands. Thus, from the earliest days of the church, this is the manner by which authority was passed on and continues to this day.
After the first millennium, as the Church experienced the great schisms, in some cases apostolic succession was still maintained and continued. In the 11th century when the great split between the eastern and the western Church took place, each of their
leaders had been in the line of succession and so both churches, the Roman and the Eastern Orthodox, continue in that line to this day.
As the Anglican Church split off the Roman Church in the 1500s, the first Anglican archbishop was indeed the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury, fully in apostolic succession. Therefore, Anglican bishops and priests have also continued in the line of apostolic succession to this day. This is not the case for all denominations or for many independent churches.
It is a way of showing a “chain of custody” through the centuries, from age to age. The Anglican Church in North America, has been a noble and honest effort to rebuild and ensure a viable and faithful “chain of custody” in North America in full apostolic succession.
So, to get local now, the three priests at St. Thomas: Fr. Chris, Fr Terry and I were all ordained and live under apostolic succession, as was every priest that ever served at St. Thomas. In other words, we can all trace our ministry and authority through the laying on of hands, all the way back to the apostles. Significant as that is, an important responsibility that comes with that authority is the protection of the faith that was passed down to us from the apostles and ‘to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’ (Jude 3). That is a weighty duty that all those in apostolic succession accept and strive to live out faithfully.
As long as we believe and receive what has been believed and transmitted from that day in Caesarea Philippi, when Peter said to Jesus, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God,” and Jesus responded saying, “Upon this rock I shall build my church… I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven,” (Matt 16:18), we can trust the certification and authenticity of our faith.
St. Thomas Church is blessed with three priests to whom authority has been passed directly from the apostles. Each of us represents a different generation and we come from quite diverse backgrounds. Not only do we serve through the laying on of hands as representatives of the Bishop’s authority in succession from the apostles for the local church, but we serve as authority, providing accountability for one another.
For Anglicans, authority is located with the Bishop and the local representative in each parish. Although none of us is a perfect minister of God’s Gospel, there should be comfort and confidence in your Church and in your clergy as sources of authentic truth regarding the Gospel. I ask your prayers that Fr Chris, Fr Terry and I can live up to the duty and responsibility passed to us.