Friday, July 25, 2014

Got to hand it to the Anglicans. . .

When Lutherans start something, we usually start if off bare bones.  Our congregations are given birth in makeshift buildings (usually very unfriendly to the liturgy), with borrowed stuff, without decent instruments to lead singing, vestments, hymnals, and even the liturgy, and often with irregular ministers. When we begin a Lutheran church body, we tend to do the same thing.  It is easy to think that the fullness will come later when we have the time, the money, and the luxury to focus on them.

Of course, that was not the intention of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.  We had a boat packed with damask for paraments, vestments for the clergy, a pipe organ for singing, musical instruments for playing, the Eucharistic vessels befitting the body and blood of Christ, etc...  Unfortunately (or a felicitous and fortuitous accident -- depending upon your point of view), this boat never made it to Saint Louie.

How many congregations have been born with nothing and even after many years still lack some of the ordinary accoutrements of the liturgy?  How many times haven't Lutherans defined ourselves according to the make do resources of our need -- even regularizing the lack and justifying never making up for the invention of our necessity?

The Anglican Church of North America is but a sliver of the size of the Episcopal Church USA.  Yet that has not stopped them from beginning with a full compliment of offices and office holders. The House of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has elected the Rt. Rev. Foley Beach as its second archbishop in succession to the Most Rev. Robert Duncan.  Meeting in a private conclave at St Vincent College in LaTrobe, Penna., on 22 June 2014 ACNA’s bishops joined by the Primate of the Church of Uganda, Archbishop Stanley Ntagali of Kampala, elected Bishop Beach by secret ballot.

In other words, it already has had its second archbishop.  Only five years old, with barely 100K members and 1K congregations, they have already gone from one archbishop to another.  Got to hand to those Anglicans.  They will not let small size or the problems of beginning a church body prevent them from all the bells, smells, and whistles.

Would that we Lutherans were not so accustomed to making do with little or nothing.  Less is not always and not usually more.  It is less.  I wish we recaptured the same churchly senses that accompanied our move to America (before it all went sour).  I wish we did not seem to glory in not having anything but what is bare necessity in church, church structure, and church life.   I wish we had not had the angst about being the church that seemed to elevate provisional status to the norm.  It has left us prone to diminishing anything but the bare minimum and, to quote Garrison Keillor, to "downsizing" what God is trying to upsize.  We Lutherans are still at the point of insisting that if we don't have to have something, we don't really need it at all.  This disdain for fullness does seem to inhibit our choice of homes, wardrobes, vacation plans, automobile choice, etc...  It seems that nothing is to good for me but everything is too good for church.  Maybe we don't absolutely need an archbishop or even bishops... or pipe organs, art work, vestments, etc...  But there is no glory in refusing what are gifts and blessings used rightly and well.  We seem to have a natural disposition to being plain people in plain buildings with plain pastors on Sunday mornings.  It is as if we think such self-denial is good, at least in small measure, and Sunday morning is one way to hold on to a principle without having to suffer with this decision the rest of our lives...


ginnie said...

Today it seems the technological comes first before the ecclesiastical.

Carl Vehse said...

Having an archbishop would not be a blessing for the Missouri Synod, despite the not-so-subtle longings of episcopal wannabes.

The Synod has the Book of Concord and we have Walther’s Kirche und Amt as the Synod’s official position and understanding of the doctrine of church and ministry under Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions. Teaching from these within Missouri Synod churches would be far more beneficial than displaying the latest liturgical fads in mitres and vestments.

And despite the fairy tales and urban legends that have been regularly dispersed in various synodical publications, articles, and presentations, we also have the historical books of Walter O. Forster (Zion on the Mississippi), Carl Mundinger (Government in the Missouri Synod) and Carl Eduard Vehse (Die Stephan'sche Auswanderung nach Amerika), These books serve to educate Lutherans why we should thank God the Missouri Synod has the congregational polity, which we should work to preserve, instead of denigrating or subverting it.

Carl Vehse said...

More than one episcopist may have felt a thrill running up his leg with the notice that the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) already has its second archbishop.

But this episcopal aroma doesn't cover the stench that ACNA has and allows pastrixes, although unlike The Episcopal Church (TEC), it opposes homosexual clergy and marriages.

Another church group, North American Lutheran Church (NALC), which broke away from the XXXA over homosexual pastors and can be consider as XXXA-lite, has been pursuing ecumenical talks with ACNA, which could just as well be consider TEC-lite.

The similarities and differences between the ACNA and TEC are discussed in a two-part Anglicans Ablaze article, "A Comparison of the Anglican Church in North America and The Episcopal Church, Part I" and "Part II".

Anonymous said...

It must be wonderful to know so much about the business of everyone else as Carl does. He speaks with such authority about all things. Never let it be said that he lacks confidence!

As to there being a second Archbishop in ACNA, the only significance I can see is the hope that he will do a better job than the first did. Duncan was a disappointment (but not much; I did not expect very much in the first place).

Fr. D+
Anglican Priest

Carl Vehse said...

An Anglican priest snarks: "It must be wonderful to know so much about the business of everyone else as Carl does."

First, I typically provide references and links for the information I post. More information can easily be obtained by web searches with keywords.

Second, since the LCMS officials have been ecumenically snuggling with the ACNA, it is a Missouri Synod Lutheran's business, too.

Third, given Scriptural warnings, e,g, Mt. 10:16 and 1 Corinthians 16:13, being aware of the theological differences between the Evangelical Lutheran Church and other church organizations is a reasonable responsibility for a Lutheran.

Anonymous said...

Got a burr under your blanket, Carl?

Anglican Priest

Carl Vehse said...

Apparently unlike your blanket, no.