Sunday, 31 March 2013

A Familiar Anglicanism

Today is Easter and I went back to my parents' for the day. And went to church twice.

The first was the 9am service at what is the parish church. A small, historic church, the first one in England to be bombed by the Luftwaffe. And the service used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer.

I admit to liking the BCP. It's the sense of history. One day Jesus will call me home. And there will come a point when the last person to remember me will be gone. I will be no more than a name. Of course there is the internet so people keep a presence (one man on my Facebook friends list died last year - never sure whether the correct thing is to unfriend now or not, as it hasn't become a memorial site) these days. The only record of my grandmother online is in the list of names on the Stardust spacecraft. For one friend who was killed 20 years ago climbing Mount Taranaki there is no online reference to him at all.

After my health scares of last April and this January I have become more aware of my mortality and I notice ways that has affected me - not necessarily morbid ways.

The thing about the BCP is that awareness of an unbroken chain of believers dating back to when Jesus Christ was in Galilee. Don't get me wrong - I'm not saying that the early church used the BCP or that Jesus spoke Shakespearian English. But the BCP reminds me that I am using the same words that people used 350 years ago (and in some parts, over 450 years ago). One day the 22nd century will begin. And as time passes, we will be seen as the Middle Ages. Then we will be Ancient History. Nations will fall, new nations will rise. There will not "always be an England" - one day that name will be known to historians only.

The Church of God will remain.

The BCP reminds me that the Church is old, rooted in history, and will keep going.

I then went to the Anglican church in my parents' town (a bit complicated as ecclesiastical and civil parishes are not coterminous). This was the 1/2 past 10 service and used Common Worship.

Now, I was converted in the autumn of 1990, and that was the church I went to during vacations. And for me, discussions and remembering of things like Series 1, 2 & 3 went over my head. I was used to the Alternative Service Book. The words in that were familiar.

And I noticed this today - so much of Common Worship comes from the ASB that most of the Communion I knew off by heart. It was familiar, comfortable and comforting.

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