Could we all stop having Negative Assumptions about one another, please? Thanks.

Could we all stop having Negative Assumptions about one, please? Because, I am really, really sick of the finger point that has happened over the last week and a bit. Maybe I should go back to the beginning.

On 2 May 2015 Rich McCaffrey of Orlando, FL posted on an issue close to his hear and that of his husband Eric McCaffrey. Yes, I said husband; They are a Married Same-Sex couple. Rich posted a public status onto Facebook where he expressed his disappointment and sadness in that the baptism of his son, Jack, had been cancelled. The baptism was originally suppose to have happened on April 19 but was cancelled/postponed on April 16 and was to be held at St. Luke’s Cathedral, which is the seat of the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida.

The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida is considered on of the more conservative Dioceses of the Episcopal Church. It’s current Bishop, the Rt. Rev’d Greg Brewer, is openly opposed to the blessings of Same-Gender unions and Same-sex marriage. His predecessor the Rt. Rev’d John Howe was much more vocal in his views on the matter.

Normally when a sacrament is being denied the Ordinary of the Diocese, in this case Bishop Brewer, is given some sort of notification. It has been reported that Bishop Brewer first learned that Jack McCaffrey’s was via Rich McCaffrey’s Facebook post. At least, that is what Bishop Brewer said. This incident reached the religious and then the secular press with Bishop Brewer making a statement to the Orlando Sentinel that he was going to be meeting with the McCaffrey’s.

The online reaction to the baptism being postponed (as per Bishop Brewer in the Orlando Sentinel article) or being outright cancelled (as per two posts by Rich McCaffrey) was very much in opposition… unless you count the unsigned blog post on the website of the Anglican Communion Institute which never mentioned the case of Rich McCaffrey. Regardless of whether the Baptism was set for April 19 and then either cancelled or postponed that date was removed from the Cathedral’s calendar by the Very Rev’d Anthony Clark, who is the Dean of Central Florida and Rector of St. Luke’s Cathedral. However, Dean Clark was not the target of most of the online scorn here on the internet. The majority of the blame rested on the feet of Bishop Brewer.

The backlash against Bishop Brewer has been tremendous. In fact, I would say downright absurd. The reason I say so is that it appears many of us have gone on the assumption that because Bishop Brewer is opposed to both blessings and marriages of Same-Sex unions that somehow this is either his fault, or he must have been doing a lot more interference then has come out. Hypothesis abound that:

  • Read the first Orlando Sentinel Article: It seems like he is going to be asking them a lot of questions? It’s like they are back at Square One.
  • It’s his Diocese: He is suppose to know what is happening and be notified if something like a Baptism is being denied,
  • It was at his Cathedral: Bishops have to work closely with their Cathedral Deans since it is their own Cathedral Church. Plus his office is probably right down the hall, and
  • He a conservative that doesn’t like LGBTQs: Why do these parents have to meet with the Bishop? Are we to expect that all LGBTQ parents are going to have to meet with the Bishop to have their children Baptized.
  • He had to be involved or condone it otherwise the Dean would have been fired.

So, I am about to warn people: Cut the Bull S**t please! Cut it. I am seriously pissed off. Way too much rage was directed at keyboards because of Negative Assumptions about Bishop Greg Brewer in large part because he is a conservative. Does the man support Same-sex blessings or marriages? No. Why? Because he has well grounded theological concerns, that is why!!! If anyone thinks “No he doesn’t” or that I am somehow taking he side please understand that the Christian Faith has seen a wide variety of stances on a multitude of issues that is fairly well grounded even before we ran into our current issues on Human Sexuality.

That all being said the negative assumptions about Bishop Brewer and his diocese have in my view lead to what I think is some less then acceptable commentary by my fellow Anglicans/Episcopalians over this past week. It’s going to go through the four points I had earlier and show how bad assumptions about Bishop Brewer and the Diocese of Central Florida got us into this mess.

The Orlando Sentinel Article

If anyone in their right mind thinks that  of the Orlando Sentinel went into Bishop Brewer’s office and said “Let’s write an article together”, sat for an hour or so to make the story you probably have no idea how articles like this get written. At best Mr. Kunerth was in the Bishop’s office for a half-hour or so asking questions while the Bishop answered them and took quotes. At worst it was a five minute phone call that the Bishop squeezed in between seeing a Priest with a major maintenance problem at his parish and a person seeking information on becoming a Vocational Deacon.

This might be news to some but reports, especially in the secular media, don’t get all the religious facts straight. No, really: They Don’t. We don’t know exactly what happened. The quotes from Bishop Brewer are very likely accurate, don’t reflect the entire conversation but are designed to be read by persons who don’t know much of what was going on. So, yes, the Bishop said in the article he was going to be asking questions; Why should he not be asking questions if his intent is to confirm that there is no reason why Jack McCafferty shouldn’t be baptized

Bishop Brewer’s Diocese

This might come as a shock to people but Bishop’s don’t always know what is going on in their Diocese even when they are trying to keep appraised and it comes down to people just not telling the Bishop what they need to hear. They are human! Their Episcopal Consecrations don’t make them omniscient. Conversely, this might also come as a shock but clergy don’t tell the entire truth or outright lie to the Bishop. I know, shocker. Turns out clergy are humans too.

Bishop Brewer’s Cathedral

Yes. The Cathedral Church of St. Luke, Orlando is the Cathedral Church of Bishop Brewer. Does anyone have any idea how often a Bishop is at his/her Cathedral Church? It’s not as much as people think it is.

Most people know this but for 5 years I was a Parishioner at my own Diocese’s Cathedral. When I was first attending Bishop Jane Alexander was Dean Alexander. I would be lying to say that as a parishioner of the Cathedral I knew the Bishop well; She most definitely knew who was I was because I was a server at the Cathedral and was thus at Diocesan services, but the reason Bishop Alexander knows the people of the Cathedral so well is because of her two years there as Dean Alexander. She has a geographically large Diocese to cover and her primary concern (like Bishop Brewer) is the pastoral oversight of the Diocese.

Bishop Alexander and the present Dean, the Very Rev’d Neil Gordon, get along very well. Without trying to mess around too much about any internal politics of my Diocese I would say that communication between these two awesome clergy-persons is not perfect. They are humans. And their offices are in the same building about 25 meters away from each other.

So, I would expect that the Bishop and Dean of Central Florida would have the occasional communication glitch. Their offices are about a mile away from each other as the Diocese Offices and the Cathedral are not co-located. The Bishop is usually only going to be on site for one service around Christmas and Easter, one or more services a year for Ordinations or Installation of Diocesan officers, and a canonical visit to the Cathedral itself once every one to three years. That is it. Bishops hang around their Cathedrals a lot less then you think they do.

Bishop Brewer is a Conservative

I am just going to be frank here: This is a dumb attitude to take. If he was so conservative why is he having the meeting with the parents in the first place? Why do the article and say what he said in the article? Why is he taking time out of an evening of his to meet with the parents? Do you have any idea how much clergy don’t like making appointments in the evening and want it during their daytime so they can spend it with their family? But, here is this Bishop who is “probably being a giant homophobe” making an evening appointment with the McCaffreys which is likely much more convenient to them. He went out of his way to make that appointment.

The Dean was not fired

Sigh. Clergy are humans. They make mistakes sometimes. As well, they operate in a world that is outside the business world. There are a lot of clergy who do things that should be fired that aren’t. But, that is a how other issue. Could have the Dean been fired over this? Maybe. He could have gotten a verbal warning. However, since the Dean wasn’t dismissed we probably never will know what happened because it would be considered a confidential matter and wouldn’t be disclosed unless the Dean chose to or the Dean was seeking employment elsewhere and the new Bishop (or a Nominations Committee) was asking for information.

The McCaffrey’s Final Post

Finally, there is Rich McCaffrey’s (presumably) final Facebook post on the incident does shows Bishop Brewer, and the congregation of St. Luke’s Cathedral, in a very positive light. It states that:

  • “The Bishop acknowledged he learned the Cathedral set a firm date of April 19 for the baptism, but did not support postponing the baptism.” (We don’t know when the Bishop learned this was a firm date)
  • “He genuinely wanted to learn about us and expressed his apologies for how it had been handled.”
  • “Most importantly, he was clear he is supportive of Eric and I, two dads, baptizing our son at the Cathedral and offered to be a part of it.
  • “We are appreciative and are looking forward to the baptism to take place this summer.”

Read the post for yourself if you want to but this post reads like the McCaffreys concerns have been addressed and dealt with, that the Bishop was truly apologetic for what had happened, that the Bishop did not support a cancellation or postponement of the Baptism, that he was supportive of them getting their son baptized, and was more than willing to be a part of it.

There is also the Facebook post that Bishop Brewer himself made that I also encourage you to read. In it Bishop Brewer states that he and the McCaffreys had the chance to “talk through the events” of the postponement, that the “conversation was open, warm, and frank”, that the McCaffreys had asked to wait until the summer “‘after the dust settles'”, but very importantly that he refers to Jack as “their son”. It also points out that he has meet with the “leadership of the Cathedral” on this matter. Hint: that means the Dean.

After reading carefully into the posts by Rich McCaffrey I have come to the conclusion that if he wanted to “burn” the Bishop, the Diocese, the Dean or the Cathedral congregation in any of these posts he would have… especially in that final post. He didn’t. Instead, we are seeing Bishop Brewer doing what he was elected and called to do: Be the Chief Pastor of the Diocese of Central Florida. His flock includes the McCaffreys… and in a few months it will include little Jack as well.

A lot of people made some bad assumptions about Bishop Brewer this last week. The article which included an interview with the Orlando Sentinel did not help and may have made things a bit worse. However, not doing the interview would probably have made things much worse as all the article would say was that “Bishop Brewer has no comment” and silence can sometimes be deafening.

Likely his own Dean should have been more honest with him from the beginning. Dean Clark was probably getting leaned on from parishioners of influence at the Cathedral and made a bad choice and was less then honest with the Bishop. The Dean is human. He makes mistakes. So do I.

Bishop Brewer deserves an apology from many of his this last week as we played armchair Church politics all over the internet. He got dragged through the mud. A lot of people made some bad assumptions about him because of his theological positions on Human Sexuality. It turns out as a “conservative” Bishop he is just fine with Baptizing the children of a Same-sex married couple. The Dean got some mud on him to, but it was far less then Bishop Brewer got on him. And that pisses me off.

For a long time now we have been using the internet to cast stones at one another over our theological differences. This “Liberal”/”Conservative” divide. Because of Bishop Brewer’s (and the majority of his) Diocese known position on Human Sexuality a lot of us made the negative assumption that this was done because of Homophobia, specifically on Bishop Brewer’s part. Or, that the McCafferys’ meeting with and “scrutiny under” Bishop Brewer was based on Homophobia. Because of these assumption people jumped to various opinions. And, let’s be honest: They were mostly Bull S**t opinions.

A bad assumption was made about a Bishop in the Church of God, people extrapolated information that didn’t exist from their bad assumptions and suddenly Bishop Greg Brewer becomes a Homophobic boogeyman. I saw a lot of downright despicable posts this past week from good people and smart people that should have known better. Frankly it pissed me off. For someone who gets identified by most as a “liberal” on issues related to human sexuality I wanted nothing to do with “liberals” for a while. After all, aren’t the “liberals” suppose to be the ones that rise above on matters like this over the “conservatives”.

All of this happened because of negative assumption. In our little Anglican/Episcopal corner of the internet we had a little S**t storm without half the facts. How are we going to build up on the Church when we did stuff like this? Does it help us at all when we do this? Blog posts, and comment threads like I saw last week show me we are not using the medium of the Internet to reach out and build up the Kingdom of God. I saw a lot of scorn and I only saw two people offering prayers; That should have been flipped.

Could we all stop having Negative Assumptions about one another, please? Last week it caused us a lot of unnecessary pain. Better still can we stop using the internet to throw mud at each other? Can we use this as a forum to actually build up the Church? Or are we just going to use this as a place to show our contempt for others that don’t share our exact theological view?

I hope and pray that Jack McCaffery is baptized this summer and grows up to be a fine Christian, possibly by Bishop Brewer himself. I hope and pray that between now and when Jack’s own children come to be baptized we have learned how to use the internet much more positively to build up the Church. And I pray we stop making so many negative assumptions about each other because it is going to hurt the Church.

MA~

Trolls, Michael Coren and other Social Media Observations from the Last Week

When I started up the ministry that is Maple Anglican, something beyond just little ole me, I was attempting to be part of what I feel is the going to be the greatest tool to re-evangelize the Western World. Anyone reading this thinking “Re-evangelize? Does MA know the Western World is pretty Christian already” I would retort with the plummeting Church membership and attendance rates occurring across the board in most denominations that Re-evangelization is necessary. But, on to other things that are possibly more depressive.

On April 28, 2015 the story broke that author and columnist Michael Coren had left the Roman Catholic Church for the Anglican Communion. The first time I saw this my good friend Brett Fawcett (aka Papist Witness) had posted a link on his Facebook Timelinefrom the Catholic media organization called Church Militant. The name of the story was “Michael Coren Leaves the Church”. Now, I am going to be honest (and Michael, if you are reading this please forgive me) but when I saw the link the first thing that went through my mind is “Who is Michael Coren again?” I think had to do a little Google searching which jogged my memory.

Michael Coren

Michael Coren, left, enters St. James Cathedral with the Rev. Canon Susan Bell for his reception into the Anglican Communion.
Photo by Michael Hudson.

It turns out that Michael was received into the Anglican Communion 5 days earlier at St. James’ Cathedral in Toronto (lovely place, by the way) and a photo of him outside the Cathedral was posted to the Anglican Diocese of Toronto’s Facebook feed that day, 23 April. So, this was publicly available information that no one in the Church based media picked up on for 5 days.

Now, if you look back on a number of articles that Michael has penned in the last year you can see that this was a possibility. He has publicly shifted his views on human sexuality very massively. However, Michael is a big wig in the Canadian conservative community and also among Catholics. He is the author of the aptly named Why Catholics Are Right that he published back in 2012. So, him leaving the Roman Catholic Church for Anglicanism is rather big.

After leaning that Michael had left Roman Catholicism for Anglicanism (and yes, using Google to jar my memory of who he was) my first reaction was “Okay. No biggie” (Sorry Michael if you are reading this but I am being truthful) and I jokingly remarked “I’m not entirely certain we wanted him.”

That all being said Michael has picked up an incredible amount of flak around the internet for his conversion to Anglicanism. This was the first Tweet showing the reactions and was published 3 days before the story broke on religious media:

  I could post things from Michael’s Facebook timeline and Twitter feed for a few weeks as he has been involved in a number of spats were people have contacted him about his conversion. It also increased a lot today as hit hit the mainstream media, namely a published interview in the National Post. A lot of Catholics have sad that they are sorry to hear he is leaving the Church and pray that he comes back. Many are not that way:

Now, Michael has been Twitter a long time and he can handle himself. However, what his happening to him is a sign of a massive problem with Social Media: Humans have the capacity to act like monsters on it and on Twitter it gets a lot worse.

This week also saw the reveal of the nominees (so far) for the position of the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church. This July the Episcopal Church will be meeting in Salt Lake City UT and one of their duties will be to elect the successor to the Most Rev’d Katherine Jefforts Schori. There have been a lot of blog posts about this. There were pre-announcement posts by people like the Rev’d Canon Scott Gunn on his blog Seven Whole Days and post-announcement reviews by people like the Rev’d Tom Ferguson (aka Crusty Old Dean).

Now, I am not going to analyze the slate of nominees because it has already been hashed. But, I will say that i was really cool to see my fellow Anglicans (yes American Episcopalians, you are Anglicans when we speak about the global Church) get excited about the nominees. I will admit that when I saw that the Rt. Rev’d Michael Curry I went “Huzzah!!” in my head not because I thought it was great to see an African American nominated for the post but because Michael Curry is a really cool Bishop.

Why is it that we see divides like this on Social Media? How is it that we can get so engaged and positive about four middle age-to-elderly men being nominated for a Church position but when a famous author and columnist publicly is received into our Communion we aren’t either getting excited or saying “Welcome” en-mass? Why is it instead the man gets more scorn and ridicule form his former co-religious? For me it seems like we need a lot more effort to do positive work in Social Media if we are going to use it as an Evangelization tool.

There is one other thing of note with Michael Coren’s conversion. While he has left to go from Roman Catholicism to Anglicanism he has specifically attending St. Martin-in-the-Fields’ Church in Toronto (not the much more famous one in London, England). St. Martin’s is a Parish in the Anglo-Catholic Tradition, of what my own Parish (St. Stephen the Martyr’s) belongs to. So, the fact he is attending a similar parish is kinda cool in my books.

So, officially from me: Welcome to the Anglican Communion Michael. I’m sorry you’ve probably had a few crappy days with the Twitter Trolls but I am certain you are use to it.

In Christ,

MA~

Announcement Concerning Lent Madness 2015

Greetings,,

Many of you that for the last two years I have produced videos with Archbishops’ Thomas Cranmer and John Chrysostom giving colo(u)r commentary on Lent Madness. Doing these video productions has been an awesome experience. However, it appears that my participation may be coming to a close.

After some careful thought I am having to withdraw from further participation in Lent Madness. I want to be very clear on this: at no point have Scott or Tim of the Supreme Executive Committee asked me to withdraw nor am I in a dispute with them. And, I still consider Forward Movement the owners of the content I created for Lent Madness 2014 as it was uploaded to a YouTube channel that they control and not me. So, please do not think this was the result of any dispute or squabbling in the back scenes.

That being said I will say what this was about: Me. I have been producing few videos recently and that comes down to having less time to do the work to create the content. I love doing it, but finding the time is difficult. Back in 2013 I changed positions with my employer and production of the videos in 2014 for Lent Madness was possible in that I had a very fixed schedule with fewer duties. However, just since last month my duties have expanded greatly and I do not have the time needed to commit to producing the videos in Lent Madness this year.

The Archbishops have been fairly supportive on this. They are going to miss not doing videos this year, but they do plan to give commentary via Twitter. However, they had been considering retiring so as they could go back to competing.

I am not closing the door on my involvement in Lent Madness. I am just unable to create the type of content I did in 2013 let alone 2014. Conversely, my schedule in April and May should allow me to participate in the equally wonderful 50 Days of Fabulous.

I would also like to give a chance to publicly thank both Scott and Tim for bringing me onto the crew back for Lent Madness 2013. You guys helped to give me a lot of expose that I am grateful for.

In Christ,

MA~

 

John Shelby Spong Makes Me Facepalm

Earlier this afternoon the Right Reverend John Shelby Spong, former Episcopal Bishop of Newark in the Episcopal Church of the United States, released the following Tweet:

Now, in all fairness to Bishop Spong Twitter is a medium that only allows you 140 characters to say what you want to see. However, Bishop Spong has a very well documented litany of statements and more importantly entire books with ideas that fly in the face of (small-o) orthodox Christian understanding. Now, I am not talking about Human Sexuality whatsoever; I’m talking the fundamentals like basic Christology. the Resurrection and the Ascension. This topics and his positions are likely beyond being Heterodoxy and into the downright Heretical.

Bishop Spong’s quote is a bit of a play on a quote by St. Athanasius of Alexandria:

[Christ/God the Son] was God, and then became man, and that to deify us

Paragraph 39, Against the Arians

This usually gets rendered as “God became man, so that we might become god” (note the lower g on the second god). The quote by St. Athanasius is linked heavily with the Atonement, linking the importance of the Incarnation of Christ with our Salvation.

In Bishop Spong’s statement he is very clear that the important part of Christianity (what it is all about) is “the human becoming divine” and not “the divine becoming human”. Again, Bishop Spong might be limited to 140 characters in explaining his view to us, however, it’s utterly wrong.

St. Athanasius’ is, along with many others, building on 2 Peter 1:4

Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants in the divine nature.

Thus, the very act of God becoming Human (the Incarnation) for the purposes of bringing Man to God is very grounded in Scripture and the Church Fathers. In truth, I could make a million page blog based on this if I felt like it.

Now, Bishop Spong is not an idiot. He holds a a Master’s of Divinity. He has done a lot of Biblical scholarship. He was an active Diocesan Bishop for 21 years. But, more importantly he has authored (according to his Wikipedia article) 24 books, eight of which have come out since he retired as Bishop of Newark in 2000. So, he should know better.

Bishop Spong is, luckily, part of a breed of leaders within Anglicanism that are starting to fade; Those who think that the entirety of Christian Theology needs to be turned on its head to work with the modern world. I disagree with him very strongly. However, there are still a lot of people (Anglicans, non-Anglicans and non-Christians) who believe what he is saying very strongly … and buy his books.

I have a lot of good friends who are Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Evaneglical and even Anglicans that are in the Anglican Church of North America. We spar sometimes but we mostly get along. One of my biggest “Sigh” moments comes to defending fellow Anglicans/Episcopalians (most of whom are self-described “Progressives” or “Liberals”) when they say or believe in inane things. Bishop Spong is one of these people.

Bishop Spong makes be facepalm when he says or tweets things like this not because I think it is stupid, not because I think he is trying to promote his books (which he probably is) but because he actually believes it … and he is getting other people to believe it as well.

The Great Litany contains the petition:

V. From all sedition, conspiracy, and rebellion; from all false doctrine, heresy, and schism; from hardness of heart, and contempt of thy Word and Commandment,
R. Good Lord, deliver us.

What Bishop Spong has stated today on Twitter is exactly something we pray for in this Petition. However, the Great Litany also contains the petition:

V. To give to all Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, true knowledge and understanding of thy Word; and that both by their preaching and living they may set it forth and show it accordingly,
R. We beseech thee, good Lord.

Bishop Spong makes me facepalm. And I shouldn’t be doing that. I should be praying that he will be given “true knowledge and understanding of [God’s] Word; and that [in his] preaching and living [he] may set it forth and show it accordingly.” Bishop Spong’s statement should have petitioning prayers for him and not have me facepalming.

May those of us Anglicans who hold to a traditional and orthodox understanding of the Holy Trinity, the Incranation, the Nativity, the Baptism, the Passion and Death, the Resurrection and Ascension of our Lord God Jesus Christ pray for those who have strayed. Amen.

How many Sacraments are there in Anglicanism?

I recently got into a discussion via twitter with a Lutheran Pastor from Manitoba that made me want to do a post on the Sacraments, or more importantly, the number of Sacraments: Are their two or seven. As an Anglican presently attending an Anglo-Catholic Parish the answer for most of us would be Seven. However, most Protestants (Lutherans included) believe that there are Two. Part of this is because there is a dispute of…

What is a Sacrament?

There are multiple views of what a Sacrament is even within Anglicanism. However, given that we are a people who follow the principle of Lex orandi, lex credendi; The Law of Prayer is the Law of Believe.

Articles of Religion

The Articles of Religion, better known as the XXXIX Articles, don’t give us a definition of what a Sacrament is. Why are included in the Books of Common Prayer of most members of the Anglican Communion, however the aren’t a prayer, aren’t included for instruction and may no longer have authority even in the Church of England. That being said Article XXV states the following:

There are two Sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.

Okay. So, there are two then. Right. Well, the Article then goes on to say:

Those five commonly called Sacraments, that is to say, Confirmation, Penance, Orders, Matrimony, and extreme Unction, are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures; but yet have not like nature of Sacraments with Baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, for that they have not any visible sign or ceremony ordained of God.

On the surface that former portion of the Articles says that are not Sacraments…of the Gospel. It reiterates to say these Rites are “not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel“. Thus, this Articles seems to suggest a possible Hierarchy of Sacraments.

Catechism of the Church

One part of the Prayer Books that would be from the Catechism included in the Book that was used to instruct those preparing for Confirmation. The Catechisms generally give us a definition. Now, there are a number of editions as each member Church has their own.

Church of England, 1662

Question. How many Sacraments hath Christ ordained in his Church?
Answer. Two only, as generally necessary to salvation, that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord.
Question. What meanest thou by this word Sacrament?
Answer. I mean an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given unto us, ordained by Christ himself, as a means whereby we receive the same, and a pledge to assure us thereof.
Question. How many parts are there in a Sacrament?
Answer. Two: the outward visible sign, and the inward spiritual grace.

So, the Church of England says there are only Two … as “generally necessary to salvation”. It also gives us the definition that a Sacrament is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace given to us, ordained by Christ himself. That last part is important as we see there is importance to Sacraments being ordained by Christ. If you recall Article XXV said the additional rites were:

are not to be counted for Sacraments of the Gospel, being such as have grown partly of the corrupt following of the Apostles, partly are states of life allowed in the Scriptures;

It seems that the 1662 English Book of Common Prayer rules out the other five rights as being Sacraments. The Questions and Answers given in the 1962 Book of Common Prayer for the Anglican Church of Canada are nearly identical.

The Episcopal Church in the United States, 1979

The Episcopal Church’s contemporary language Catechism has a bit more of a middle path:

Q. What are the sacraments?
A. The sacraments are outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace, given by Christ as sure and certain means by which we receive that grace.

Q. What is grace?
A. Grace is God’s favor toward us, unearned and undeserved; by grace God forgives our sins, enlightens our minds, stirs our hearts, and strengthens our wills.

Q. What are the two great sacraments of the Gospel?
A. The two great sacraments given by Christ to his Church are Holy Baptism and the Holy Eucharist.

Here will still have the language that Sacraments are still given by Christ. However, in this Catechism refers to Baptism and the Eucharist as the two “great sacraments of the Gospel”. We are also given a definition of Grace. However, this more modern Catechism does state:

Q. What other sacramental rites evolved in the Church under the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
A. Other sacramental rites which evolved in the Church include confirmation, ordination, holy matrimony, reconciliation of a penitent, and unction.

Q. How do they differ from the two sacraments of the Gospel?
A. Although they are means of grace, they are not necessary for all persons in the same way that Baptism and the Eucharist are.

Here the 1979 Book refers to the other five rites as “Sacramental Rites”, and reiterates that they are “not necessary for all persons” for salvation. This book is written in more modern times but also more than 150 years after the Oxford Movement which sought to re-affirm the Catholic Heritage of Anglicanism. This insertion and language is here to seek a middle ground between Low and High Church Anglicans.

Service of Holy Communion

The service of Holy Communion for Anglicans was changed very little from 1552 until the 20th Century. However, there is a small phrase of importance in the service that is very important to how many sacraments are there:

take this holy Sacrament to your comfort

You might think to yourself “Okay. So this is something said by the Priest for those communing, right?” Well, not exactly.

During the invitation to Confession that is given before the Eucharistic prayer the service has the following rubric and statement:

Then shall the Priest say to them that come to receive the holy Communion,

YE that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees.

The language here is a little ambiguous. One interpretation is that the Sacrament being taken is the Eucharist. The Exhortation and the other prayers in the service would seem like more than enough to point to the attendants coming for that Sacrament. However, it can also be interpreted that the Confession is the Sacrament being mentioned. After all, immediately following the Confession by the Faithful are the Comfortable words set to re-assure the Faithful that their sins have been forgiven.

The ordination prayer for Anglican Priests going back to 1550 states:

…Whose sins thou dost forgive, they are forgiven; and whose sins thou dost retain, they are retained. And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments;

The prayer specifically quotes John 20:23. It is then understood that an Anglican Priest is forgiving Sins in the Absolution during the Service of Holy Communion:

Have mercy upon you; pardon and deliver you from all your sins;

I would submit that the liturgy is stating that Confession, at least confession during the service of Holy Communion, is a sacrament. However, the English Reformers seemed to prefer that a Sacrament was necessary to Salvation and thus leave it to the “big two”.

So, after all this how many Sacraments are there?

Well, it depends on your definition of Sacrament. The English Reformers seemed to move towards the other reformers on the continent and say there are Two: Baptism and Communion. However, it appears they made their definitions and liturgy open enough that the Rites of Confirmation, Penance, Ordination, Matrimony, and Anointing of the Sick can be considered lesser Sacraments.

Thus, I believe the correct Anglican answer is Seven: Two necessary for Salvation and Five not necessary for Salvation.

Looking for Feedback on What to do Next

Hey Everyone,

So, you will have noticed that I haven’t made a video at all since my thing for 50 Days of Fabulous. There are a few reasons for this. When I created that video I had just started a four-month course in IT Security and thus it had priority. I finished that back in August. However, over this summer I had been bouncing around parishes as well trying to figure out if I should move and if so where: The answer ended up being yes and to St. Stephen’s Parish.

Earlier this week one of my many non-Christian friends whose daughter is in the same pre-school as my son remarked to my wife (Mrs. Maple) that he hadn’t seen me do any videos recently and was worried about me. When I heard that I realized that I might have been take astray a tad.

To sum this up I need some input: What do you want to see next in a video if I was doing one? I had prepped some scripts back in May on some Quirks and Quarks of Anglicanism. I use to have a tonne of ideas. But now I am looking for what you guys want.

If you give me ideas I won’t be putting things out too quickly. I am presently finishing up helping my new parish with one thing I do best: Evangelizing in the Social Media World. Please checked out their website, and twitter feed. We will be adding some other Social Media stuff soon for them. Once I have their ball rolling I would like to do some videos.

In Christ,

MA~

Nipping Something in the Bud

Okay, I would like to nip something in the Bud about my personal life.

Yes

As of this month (September 2014) I am no longer a member of the Parish of All Saints’ Cathedral, Edmonton.

No!

I did not leave due to a dispute with any of the clergy or any other Parishioner. I wish everyone at the Cathedral Parish well.

Yes

I have now moved to the Parish of St. Stephen the Martyr. St. Stephen’s is much closer to my current residence than the Cathedral, and I am on very good terms with it’s Rector whom Baptized both my children when he was the Vicar at the Cathedral.

However, I have come to a point in my own Faith journey that I need to explore. Some of it might spill into my videos. (Which reminds me; I need to make more videos.) So, I will be exploring at St. Stephen’s for a while.

St. Stephen’s is a Parish within the Anglo-Catholic tradition. It generally only uses the 1962 Canadian Book of Common Prayer with it’s Lectionary and Collects. It is also a struggling, Inner City Parish that was forced to abandon their previous Church building in 2009 due to problems with the foundation. As such they have been co-located with the Parish of St. Faith’s in their Church since then.

While I am doing a bit of exploring I hope to help build up St. Stephen’s (and St. Faith’s) online presence because I believe that it is important to the future of the Church as a whole and not just any one Parish.

So, to recap: I am leaving the Cathedral on very good terms with the people there. I will miss them but for myself, for my family and for my new Parish I need to move on.

Pax

MA~

  • I a

The Mother of the Lord

Today is the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin. It is sometimes called the Assumption (by Roman Catholics), the Dormition (By Orthodox Christians) or the Falling Asleep of the Virgin (by others). Regardless of what we call it we still recognize her as the Mother of the Lord.

With Mary we see the first witness to the Lord. With Mary we see a woman who when approached by the Angel of the Lord willingly accepted to bear the “Son of the Most High”.

Being the Mother of the Incarnate God probably wasn’t easy. You’d have to think raising him was unusual. God only knows what it must have been like seeing him start his ministry let alone see him suffer Death on the Cross and finally rise from the grave.

So today, think of the Mary, the Mother of the Lord.

O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son. May we who have been redeemed by his blood, share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen

Collect for Saint Mary the Virgin
Book of Alternative Services (1985)

Random Thoughts on He-Man and the Sacraments

I am a child of the 1980s and 1990s. One particular cartoon I grew up with was He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. For those of you unfamiliar this animated series deals with events surrounding the life of Prince Adam, the son of King Randor and Queen Marlena of the planet of Eternia. Prince Adam has been given a weapon called the Sword of Power that when he holds in his hand and says the phrase “By the Power of Greyskull” he will be transformed into He-Man: The most powerful man in the Universe. See below:

(Sidenote: His large, cowardly tiger Cringer will be transformed into Battle-cat by the Sword of Power).

However, in the all the episodes I ever saw not once did we see He-Man transform back into Prince Adam; Every episode Adam would have to take out the Sword of Power to become He-Man. Maybe this is always done off screen or maybe it goes slowly a few days later but we never see He-Man become Adam. We see it as a one way process. There is also the striking fact that in the Church we have processes that are one way.

Baptism takes someone and makes them a Christian, bringing them into the Body of Christ. We never re-baptize as Baptism leaves a Sacramental Character on them. We hold the same true for Confirmation and Ordination. (Possibly Marriage in some circles)

In a way we also hold this to be true for the Eucharist as we consider the Bread and Wine to have become the Body and Blood of Christ. The Church does not teach that the consecrated elements lose this over time or if something is done to them.

Unlike Prince Adam we don’t need to change ourselves every episode because we know that God has, through Christ, made permanent changes to ourselves in the material world.

Thanks be to God. Amen
MA~

Even More Ten Reasons for being an Anglican… in Canada

Recently my former temporary American Nemesis Father Tim Schenck noted the American Comedian Robin Williams had authored a list of Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian, and he decided to build on this. As part of my reconciliation with Father Tim after naming him my temporary Nemesis while Father Scott Gunn was in Canada I have decided to post the lists.

Robin William’s List:

  1. No snake handling.
  2. You can believe in dinosaurs.
  3. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
  4. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
  5. Pew aerobics.
  6. Church year is colo[u]r-coded.
  7. Free wine on Sunday.
  8. All of the pageantry — none of the guilt.
  9. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized.
  10. No matter what you believe, there’s bound to be at least one other Episcopalian who agrees with you.

Father Tim’s More Top Ten Reasons to be an Episcopalian:

  1. The only thing we take literally is “Coffee Hour.”
  2. All of the sacraments — none of the indulgences.
  3. Gay and straight God created them; gay and straight we marry them.
  4. Bouncers don’t check your ID at communion.
  5. Fire and incense, not fire and brimstone.
  6. Guilt-free royal watching — because we’re Anglicans.
  7. Vestments cover a multitude of wardrobe malfunctions.
  8. No “second collection.”
  9. Washington National Cathedral? Yeah, that’s ours.
  10. We’re the only ones God trusts enough to take the summer off.

We here at Maple Anglican (okay, its just me) feel that Robin’s and Father Tim’s list needed to be expanded on especially because it is awesome to be a Canadian and an Anglican.

However, I felt like both lists don’t cover the awesomeness of being a Canadian Anglican. So, without further ado here is my Even More Ten Reasons for being an Anglican… in Canada.

  1. Don’t want to do Pew Aerobics? Then don’t.
  2. Think there are seven Sacraments? Two Sacraments? Hey, this place is still for you.
  3. We’ve agreed to have a mature and considerate discussion about changing our Canons on Gay Marriage. (Let’s hope that attitude lasts)
  4. Book of Common Prayer? Book of Alternative Services? Occasional Services? We got it all!
  5. Bishops? We have Archbishops. And Metropolitans Do you Episcopalians? I thought not.
  6. Ecclesiastical Provinces that actually do something!
  7. We can be proud in Archbishop Michael Peers apology that began reconciliation with the First Nations people of Canada.
  8. Excellent relations and cooperation with the Evangelical Lutherans.
  9. Women in Mitres way before the Church of England.
  10. The Queen is one of us! (Take that United Church of Canada and Episcopalians!)

Pax