I know I’ve written about the “Amateur” portion of my blog in “Why Amateur?”(see link above). But, why Anglican? is also a valid question. So indeed, why am I an Anglican? Please remember that it is just a room off the main hall of Christianity (please google CS Lewis for what that means, if you don’t know).
This does take as an assumption that I am a Christian. Or, maybe better: Am I a Christian? No, but by the grace of God I am becoming one.
To be an Anglican is to be of the lineage of the Church of England. As opposed to say The Church of Rome, which is the Roman Catholic Church. I am a member of an Anglican Church in Wheaton, IL: Church of the Resurrection. It is a church in the Anglican Church in North America.
The Anglican Church is generally high church. The priests wear vestments. We burn incense. We have communion every week in something called Eucharist. We bury the uneaten bread and pour out any undrunk wine out of reverence. We have Bishops, priests and deacons.
The Church Catholic (universal) does not reside just in our time, but resides in the distant past and into the future. We individually are just a breath, a blade of grass that withers and dies in the heat of the sun. We would be prudent to listen to the voices of our mothers and fathers in the faith from years before. From Abraham to Noah to David to Solomon to Peter to John to Paul to John Chrysostom through innumerable men and women to our time. We should walk in humble regard for the wisdom laid down by those who came before us.
Anglicans use this thing called the book of common prayer, the BCP. Common here means the things we do together, in common. We have the thirty nine articles of religion which lay out the broader definition of Anglicanism. That BCP, that’s what really is striking. It is a blueprint for the common settings in which worship and prayer take place. It then lays out plans for how to do it in something called liturgy: “a form or formulary according to which public religious worship, especially Christian worship, is conducted.”
The book itself starts with a lectionary. From Wikipedia: “A lectionary (Latin: Lectionarium) is a book or listing that contains a collection of scripture readings appointed for Christian or Judaic worship on a given day or occasion.” It’s a read through the bible plan, in this case a three year one. Emphasis is given to the psalms.
It was originally published in 1549, the 1662 edition is still used by the Church of England. Here in the United States it gets a little less agreed upon. The ACNA is working on revising it to fix the problems of the 1979 revision. I have both the 1979 and 1928 editions. But, that’s not why I’m writing.
I’m an Anglican because of the accumulated practical wisdom that is reflected in the Book of Common Prayer. The BCP is a lot like a bookcase that already has some books on it. It has a lot of structure and some initial guidance. But there’s plenty of room for other things. Like the sermons. The preacher still needs to read the bible, and understand and reflect and then teach the flock. Yes, there are formal prayers for group settings. But in saying those prayers, one learns a common language of prayer. The prayers are all reflections of prayers and promises found in scripture.
And I find here traditions that date back to the earliest Christians. To our brothers and sisters who perished because Rome could not accept their rejection of Caesar as a god. These traditions were formed in the intense heat of that persecution. We owe those Jewish and Greek converts so very much. They protected the scripture and the letters to give us the bible that we take for granted.
In the Anglican Tradition I’ve found that practical approach to the Christian walk. The Christian life is lived out in motion. We move through our lives, we walk in faith. There is much ordinariness to life, a lot of repetition. I brush my teach every day. I eat. I sleep. Various other things. Repeat. We share our lives in common with other Christians. Morning prayers. Mid-day prayers. Evening prayers. All written out, so even if you are saying them alone, you aren’t really. Because somewhere, someplace, another Anglican is saying the same prayer with you.