Embracing Anglicanism: A Journey Toward Unity, Reverence, and Liturgy

 I stumbled into Anglicanism by chance while I was a seminarian, discerning my calling to local church ministry. One day, my pastor received a call from Pastor Drew who was looking for a young man to serve as a pastoral intern at his church. My pastor introduced us, we had a lunch meeting to discuss the internship details, I attended a Sunday morning service, and now, after nine years, I am the pastor for teaching and preaching at Redeemer.

Interestingly enough, it wasn't until several months into my service at Redeemer that I discovered it was actually an Anglican church. At the time, my main focus was on serving and fulfilling the mission of the church, so the specific denomination didn't really matter to me. However, as I became more curious about theological distinctions and the possibility of being ordained, I started to pay more attention to the Anglican affiliation. Prior to this, I had very little knowledge of or experience with Anglicanism or the Anglican Church in North America, and I wasn't sure if it would be the right fit for me.

As time went on, I grew more and more fond of Anglicanism and its principles. After three years, I made the decision to be ordained as a priest and fully embraced the Anglican tradition. There are three main reasons why I have embraced Anglicanism:

Ecumenical Structure
As an Anglican, I am frequently asked about the theological distinctions that set Anglicanism apart from other Christian traditions. Each time I am asked, I respond with a smile and an enthusiastic answer: nothing. The Anglican Church in North America does not promote any specific theological tradition ( i.e. Calvinism or Pentecostalism or Methodism) because many of us who have embraced Anglicanism come from various other traditions. As we transitioned to Anglicanism, we were allowed to retain the theological traditions and distinctions that have shaped us, as long as they align with Biblical and creedal orthodoxy. This has been particularly beneficial for me, given my diverse theological background.
My journey began in the Pentecostal church, where I first encountered Jesus and received my initial training for ministry. Later on, I transitioned to the Baptist and Reformed traditions. During my seminary education, I immersed myself in the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition before unexpectedly finding my way into Anglicanism. Prior to becoming Anglican, I was often led to believe that embracing a new way of being with God required divorcing my previous traditions. This divorce often came with a sense of animosity towards "those" people and arguments about how the new way was superior. However, deep down, I didn't want to harbor resentment towards my previous tradition. I had experienced growth as a Christian within those traditions, formed valuable relationships in those churches, and most importantly, encountered God there.

Anglicanism presented a paradigm that allowed me to embrace all the traditions that had shaped me. It provided a framework for building and maintaining healthy relationships with Christians who held different secondary and tertiary theological beliefs. The Anglican way allows me to live in a spirit of charitable fellowship with those who practice Christianity differently than I do. In my opinion, this is the kind of unity that Christ desires within His incredibly diverse body.

Lectionary and Book of Common Prayer
Contemporary ecclesiologies are largely based on creativity and relevance. Unfortunately, this often leads toward less reverent church services where the sermons are constructed based on their power to draw numbers and the songs are curated based on their ability to conjure emotion. I don’t mean to sound like the old guy who is mad at the children and their “newfangle” ways of doing things but I think that this way of doing church leads to mile-wide and inch-deep experiences with God. Through the lectionary and Book of Common Prayer, Anglicanism offers a template for ecclesiology that is soaked in Scripture and Christocentric in focus. This template offers several benefits that I find invaluable as a priest and parishioner.

No Guesswork
Anglican liturgy is not an abjuration of strategy. Instead, it serves as guardrails that help focus our intentions where they ought to be: the glory of God as communicated through the Scripture and creeds and as experienced through worship and prayer. Toward this end, the lectionary offers the Scriptures for reading, preaching and reflection for each Sunday. While there is nothing wrong with preaching series or choosing Scriptures based on what the pastor or Priest feels led to share, the lectionary frees us from having to recreate the wheel. When we follow the guide that is the lectionary, we have the confidence that we are not being led by whimsy. We, by faith, are submitting to the tradition passed down to us, by the Church, through the Spirit.

When we read the texts offered by the lectionary on a given Sunday, I am encouraged by the fact that there are thousands of other Anglicans around the world reflecting on the same Scriptures. It’s pretty cool to preach on a lectionary text and then go online to hear what other fellow priests have said about the same text in their sermons. The way our thoughts often parallel each other, despite our differing contexts, is a testament to the work of the Spirit.

The Daily Office
When I’m going through difficult or particularly exhausting seasons in life, my prayer life is often the first to struggle. Hardship makes it difficult to want to pray or to know what to pray. The daily offers gifts both the language for prayer and the structure of the hours for prayer, which are especially helpful during these seasons. One writer suggested that the book of common prayer is like the gift of tongues; a prayer language to utilize when we are unsure of what or how to pray. In other words, the daily office offers a rhythm to my prayer life when life seems chaotic and unpredictable. I am truly grateful for the Daily Office and the prayers offered in the Book of Common Prayer. They serve as a daily guide for my prayer life and provide much-appreciated stability and direction.

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