(These letters first appeared in the February 2016 issue of the Anglican Journal.)
Church must be ‘nimble and flexible’ about lay presidency
Re: Bishops address concerns about ‘lay presidency’ (Dec. 2015, p. 1): In response to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada’s decision to allow lay persons to officiate at the eucharist in extraordinary circumstances, the Canadian House of Bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada took a firm stand against such practice-however, it seems, without firm footing. “For a lot of Anglicans, this is a no-go,” said Archbishop Fred Hiltz, which is hardly a good reason to disallow the contemplation of such a change.
Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson goes even further in suggesting that he discourages Anglicans from participating in services where a layperson is presiding at the eucharist. Really? Is he saying that four years at a theological school followed by ordination somehow changes the effectiveness of the remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice?
I rather like the fact that Canadian and American Lutherans and The (American) Episcopal Church have adopted a more flexible stance on the issue. As our primate noted, “in spite of Anglican angst…this issue has not been detrimental to the full communion relationship between TEC and the ELCA.” One would hope that the Canadian bishops might muster the courage to express themselves with a bit more thought and in-depth analysis without worrying too much about a “departure from the small ‘c’ catholic order of the church.”
“Lay presidency ‘not an option’ for Anglicans”…”For a lot of Anglicans, this is a no-go”…”It’s just not in keeping with our understanding of sacrament and ordained ministry” are quotes from the Anglican Journal, Dec. 2015, p. 1 article, Bishops address concerns about ‘lay presidency.’
I find this stance a tad hypocritical. In the past 50 years or so, a number of changes have been made not in keeping with our traditional understanding.
The Five Marks of Mission are the criteria we have chosen to guide us. “To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom” is the first. This was Jesus’ focal proclamation. What elements in our Anglican way are hindrances to promoting the Kingdom as manifest in Jesus? Is lay presidency one of them or not?
What about the homeless?
Tell me something, Canadian Anglican bishops: are you going to talk/push/force the prime minister of Canada to spend as much on the homeless of Canada as they are going to spend on refugees?
Honestly, I don’t think so, as I haven’t seen/heard a word from any of them or the head of the Anglican church.
I challenge all you bishops to speak up and be heard!
I am writing to express appreciation for the column Walking Together by Bishop Mark MacDonald.
His monthly reflections on both the anguish and the healing joy in the journey of faith are profound. He is helping me, and our whole church, to understand what it means to be reconciled and reconciling-particularly as we deepen our understanding of walking together in the implementation of the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
We are privileged to have a national Indigenous bishop whose wisdom and vision are such a blessing to us all.
What ‘unconditional love’?
Robert Wild claims that Jesus “affirmed the unconditional divine loving for everyone” (Letters, ‘Radical revision’ of church’s traditional missionary theology is needed, Dec. 2015, p. 4). I don’t know where he gets his image of Jesus. It certainly does not square with the one I find in the gospels: “But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew 6:15). “Take heed what ye hear: with what measure ye mete it shall be measured unto you: and more shall be given unto you. For he that hath, to him shall be given: and he that hath not, from him shall be taken away even that which he hath” (Mark 4:24-5). “For the son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27).
Does that sound like “unconditional love”? The meaning is quite clear to me. God loves only those who do his will and keep his commandments. He shows no love to unrepentant sinners. “For judgement is without mercy to him that hath shewed no mercy” (James 2:13).
It is high time that clergy and Christians in general stopped rabbiting on about God’s “unconditional love.”