Sunday, October 31, 2010

On this Reformation Sunday, time for a Second Reformation!

There seems to be something about five hundred year spans of time. In the middle of the 11th century East split from West resulting in what today we call The Orthodox Churches and the Roman Catholic Church. In 1517 Martin Luther posited his theses sparking the Reformation resulting in Protestant Christianity.

Another five hundred years have passed. Perhaps now Episcopalians need to remind Rowan Williams and the "Covenant" folk that it might be time for yet another "reformation" from central authority. I adore being associated with the Anglican Communion as I have known it, an amalgamation of Christians united by a reasonably common liturgy but not requiring uniformity of faith and belief. The "Covenant" is, protestations from those who advance it aside, an attempt to establish a central authority with the power to decide who is "in" and who is "out" based upon matters of faith and belief.

In the middle of the sixteenth century people lost their heads and were burned at the stake over issues of faith and belief. At issue was the nature of Holy Communion, whether the elements were the Body and Blood of Jesus or a sacred "remembrance" of the acts of the Last Supper. It was the genius of Elizabeth to suggest that people of all conviction could worship together under one liturgy without having to question their neighbors' personal faiths and/or personal beliefs. Catholic and Protestant could worship together at the same altar -- imagine that! Now, five hundred years later this great heritage of gracious acceptance is falling apart such that some wish to assert a "Covenant" of acceptable faith and belief. It is nonsense. It never will work. One cannot legislate faith and belief.

On this Reformation Sunday, I assert that I am ready for a new Reformation, one which reminds us that all people not only can worship at the same altar utilizing a reasonably standard liturgy which has deep, historic roots, but in fact should so do. It requires some give and take from all parties. No one perspective rules the day. We work at it together. It is messy, it is difficult, it requires kindness, tolerance and a good measure of grace, but it is the right thing to do, and it is in keeping with the first five hundred years of Anglicanism.

(with thanks to Drew who planted the seeds)