Sunday, February 12, 2006

Holy Communion

I attend one of the most spiritually radical churches Canada (perhaps the world) can boast, and I love it. It's when boasting itself becomes an issue that my stomach churns.

Today, I attended a Church of England (Anglican, to us Canadians) church in Nuneaton, called All Saints' Church, and was again struck by how the Spirit moves me when I sit in on a more traditional service. I used to visit St. Paul's Anglican, on Bloor Street in Toronto, with my great aunt Dodie when I was quite young. I distinctly remember being overwhelmed by the sound of the organ, bouncing off of the cold stone walls and up through the vaulted ceiling. When I was too young to take communion, Dodie would bring me up to the communion bench so that her priest and personal friend, Father Freeland, could pray a blessing over me. Later, Father Freeland was with us when we mourned Dodie's death in the same church, on a rainy day in March.

When my family and I moved to the Beach in Toronto we made St. Saviour's Anglican our home church for a number of months, in part to support Jess Cantelon, the youth pastor there at the time, and also to be a part of the intercession and community outreach that this small church was instigating in our neighbourhood. It was in that church that we met the Sunday following 9/11 to share our emotions and pray together for New York.

This morning, at All Saints', I was reminded of the "Anglican era" of my family's church-hopping and it made me grow quite protective of older, more traditional churches and denominations. If we are joint heirs with Jesus, and all of us are siblings, than I would suppose I was growing as defensive of Anglicanism, as an "older sibling" of mine, as I would of a natural-born sibling.

The words of the Book of Common Prayer, read this morning:
Almighty God, unto whom all hearts are open,
all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid;
Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of thy Holy Spirit...
Are they not Biblical? Do they not echo the lyrics of our contemporary worship songs?

And this hymn, written by by John S.B. Monsell (1811-1875):

Fight the good fight With all thy might;
Christ is thy Strength and Christ thy Right.
Lay hold on life, and it shall be
Thy joy and crown eternally.

Run the straight race Thro' God's good grace;
Lift up thine eyes and seek His face.
Life with its way before us lies;
Christ is the Path and Christ the Prize.

Cast care aside; Upon thy Guide
Lean, and His mercy will provide;
Lean, and the trusting soul shall prove
Christ is its Life and Christ its Love.

Faint not nor fear, His arms are near;
He changeth not, and thou art dear.
Only believe, and thou shalt see
That Christ is All in all to thee.

Does that not show us the gospel, in a glance? "Cast care aside; upon thy Guide lean, and His mercy will provide." Nice.

Attending an Anglican church regularly would drive me nuts, eventually, because it's not my launguage or my culture. I have a nosering, I brought a tea into service ("It's probably the first time someone has done that," Becky informed me.), I prefer the vaulted ceilings of the Avalon club of New York to worship, but I'm just the younger sibling.

Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly
I know he hear me when my feet get weary
And bring the day that I'm dreaming about
Next time I'm in the club everybody screaming out
Jesus walks, Jesus walks with me
- Kanye West ("Jesus Walks")



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