Sunday Kris and I were at St. Matthew’s in Sterling VA. I posted a few pics yesterday from our time there with Rob and Linda Merola. Rob is Rector of St. Matthew’s (whatever “rector” means). There is major impression I get everytime I “go Anglican.”
Just about the time I get really warmed up in my sermon I realize my time is about over. Here now my major impression: the point of an Anglican gathering on a Sunday morning is not to hear a sermon but to worship the Lord through the celebration of the Eucharist. Isn’t the point of our worship to revel in the life and death and resurrection of our Lord and to be empowered by the Spirit of Pentecost? Isn’t this rather narrow tunnel of focus on the core elements of our faith the one that leads to freedom in Christ? Doesn’t the weekly communion guide us to the point of it all?
Rob gave me 15-20 minutes for the sermon — a bit of cramped space for a man who grew among the Baptist 45-60 minute sermon. And, as is expected, the sermon at the end needed to lead us all into the Lord’s Supper. Which definitely gives guidance from the get-go of where we are headed.
The Lord’s Supper is not a tack-on to an already cramped 60-75 minute service, but the climactic time of the entire service. First some scripture readings and then the sermon and then some announcements and then the Eucharist liturgy — with everyone coming forward to kneel and participate — publicly — in the body and blood. Each person publicly appropriates in a visible drama the saving impacts of the death and resurrection of Christ.
I will say this til I die: the words of The Book of Common Prayer are unsurpassable and a Lord’s Supper, done properly and with dignity and solemnity and with preparation, is all we need for worship. I wonder sometimes if the lengthy singing of low-church evangelicals is a groping for the kind of worship that is visibly demonstrated and dramatized in the Anglican communion service. Nothing tells the old, old redemptive story like the bread and wine. Nothing.
I’m hoping more low-church evangelicals will catch the vision for the simple story and quite trying to figure out how to do everything so differently or so creatively or so cleverly or with more energy or with more attractional force. The simple sacraments are our lodestar.