GC2012: Praying for The Episcopal Church

July 6, 2012

Folks in my end of the Anglican section of God’s Household used to feel pretty darned self-satisfied. It was just like that man in Jesus’ parable. You remember that guy praying out loud in front of all the lesser worshipers. “Thank you Lord that I am not like those terrible Episcopalians. I use the correct prayer book (or the proper rite from the inferior prayer book), my doctrine is pure and my front doors unstained by the presence of despised sinners. You Lord overlook small technical shortcomings because you love my pure doctrine. Thank you, Lord, that I am not like those wicked Episcopalians.”

My how a year changes things.

The foolish, and sure to be counter-productive, actions taken against some outspoken bishops make prayers for TEC stick in the throat, but when one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all feel it. Some will say that TEC is outside of the Christian community and there are two possible responses for that. In the first place, it is hasty to suggest that an entire body of people may have departed the essential Christian faith. Secondly, it is not our place to say and self-identified “conservative” Anglicans might be wise to remember Jesus’ advice about pulling the plank out of your own eye before fishing a speck out of somebody else’s.

We are all fallen human beings – all of us. We deserve nothing other than to burn in hell, and, except for the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for sinners, that would certainly be our fate. How can we bring TEC to repentance except with kind and respectful words. How can we come to repentance for our own shortcomings without a generous dose of humility?

We should pray for TEC and for ourselves, that we should possess and develop

• clear minds and careful lips

• respect for differing viewpoints

• an attentive reverence for God’s word written

• a worshipful awe of God’s Word Incarnate

• a rightly understood fear of the Lord

• patience in explaining our viewpoints

• an acknowledgment of our fallen human nature

• an understanding heart that will discern those things worth fighting over

• a forgiving heart that overlooks all perceived personal offenses.

For the Church.

O GRACIOUS Father, we humbly beseech thee for thy holy Catholic Church; that thou wouldst be pleased to fill it with all truth, in all peace. Where it is corrupt, purify it; where it is in error, direct it; where in anything it is amiss, reform it. Where it is right, establish it; where it is in want, provide for it; where it is divided, reunite it; for the sake of him who died and rose again, and ever liveth to make intercession for us, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord. Amen.

For the Unity of God’s People.

O GOD, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, our only Saviour, the Prince of Peace; Give us grace seriously to lay to heart the great dangers we are in by our unhappy divisions. Take away all hatred and prejudice, and whatsoever else may hinder us from godly, union and concord: that as there is but one Body and one Spirit, and one hope of our calling, one Lord, one Faith, one Baptism, one God and Father of us all, so we may be all of one heart and of one soul, united in one holy bond of truth and peace, of faith and charity, and may with one mind and one mouth glorify thee; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

(American edition, 1928 Book of Common Prayer, p. 37)

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