Thursday, October 31, 2013

Post-Provincial Posting

Well, I have returned from Newport Beach having attended the Provincial Synod of the Anglican Catholic Church. It has been a very encouraging time and it has been wonderful to be with so many people committed to continuing the Catholic faith through our shared Anglican heritage.

Much of the focus of this Synod has been on the issue of Evangelism - spreading the Gospel. The question is, just who will receive the Gospel? Of course, anyone can, but the method of reception is as varied as the person that receives it. Each person has a unique way of understanding how the News is in fact Good News and this understanding is born from intimate needs and desires of the individual heart. Before Evangelists can deliver the Gospel, they must understand the innermost needs and heartfelt deficiencies of the target audience. One cannot reach an introvert using extravert techniques, nore vice versa. The material poverty of Africa will not be receptive to the Gospel of empty hands just as the spiritual poverty of the West will not benefit from thousands of pounds being thrown into bank accounts and coffers. Real needs have to be met in a non-superficial, non-categorical and non-judgemental way. To preach the Gospel is a mandatory requirement and a truly Catholic requirement, however one cannot take a blanket approach to matters which arise from individuals.

A Gospel that is carried with judgmentalism and legalism bears none of the Good News that the Lord God wants us to bear, There is no magic formula to evangelism; there can be no magic formula to evangelism for the result of formulaic evangelism is superficial faith. It is simply sowing the seed among the briars and the thorns. The fact of the matter is that we have to accept the complexity of real life and the pain and suffering that this complexity brings.

The Gospel we bear has to embrace complexity, and we have to be aware that we cannot bear that Gospel alone as individuals because the complexity of our own lives blinds us to some complexity in the lives of others. Individually, we are doomed to failure, abject failure. We can only succeed when we play our humble and flawed part in the Holy Catholic Church. The Church is very much a collection of individual failures, but a group nonetheless that has Christ at our centre and the interests of people and loving those people standing with Christ at our centre.

Unity is thus a good thing as is adherence to those principles that spread unity. We cannot reach souls if we resort to practices that compromise the very principles at the heart of our faith. Bodies may be saved by relaxing our principles, but souls will be lost. The ends never justify the means! He who seeks to save his life shall lose it!

The whole point of the Good New is Redemption! The commonality of the Human Condition is the Fall - we are all failures! Our life, our work, our belief, our hope, our justice, our mercy, our attempts to be good are all doomed to failure. This is common to all humanity.

This leaves us with two options. Either we can deny our failure by calling it "success", and satisfy ourselves that all is well and, further, use it as a canon with which to beat others and declare them imperfect, loudly, volubly and with no real compassion at all; or, we can recognise our failure and apportion the blame for that failure on our families/upbringing/orientation/genes et c and hope that this will excuse us from any consequence from our failures.

These are the only two options the world hears. There is, in fact, a third option - Accept the Good News! The Good News is that Christ not only forgives the failures of those who recognise those failures in honesty and humility, but can even transform those failures into something so much better. We may indeed have to live with the consequences of failure all our lives, but not are those consequences temporary, but in Christ they work for a greater good than we might have achieved had we succeeded. Romans viii.28 tells us this quite categorically.

This greater good is seldom necessarily evident immediately, and more likely evident after death. Indeed, it may not only be completely incomprehensible, and even sickeningly scandalous, but this shows our need for faith in what Christ Jesus has achieved.

If we believe and trust in Jesus Christ, that He is indeed King of Kings and able to do infinitely more than we can conceive, then we have to trust that He can and indeed will turn every misery into true joy, every act of unkindness into true worth, every death into true life, completely turning the value judgements of this world on their head and squashing the all-dominating power of pain. We believe in Jesus Christ and we believe that He will raise the Dead in order to give them Love, Happiness and Peace. That is real Good News. That is real Gospel. So how do we preach it?


Lisa Marion said...

I think you did just preach it Sir.

Father Ed Bakker said...

Blessings of the day Father,

Evangelism yes indeed. But no longer need we to focus on present day Anglicans, who shrug their shoulders about us. We need to be seen on the streets and the lanes of our community dealing with the down and outs and broken hearted.

Father Ed Bakker
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
p.s I asked you a question the other day where you got the acc/op preacher scarf from, can you let me know, I would use it for Evening prayer and non Eucharistic burials. Best wishes Fr Ed

Warwickensis said...

Hello Fr. Bakker, indeed you did ask me a question the other day about the black tippet. I did reply and told you that it wasn't me wearing it but our archdeacon. I believe ornamented tippets are reserved for deans and above.

Father Ed Bakker said...

Thanks so much for your reply

Have a meaningful All Souls Day

Fr Ed Bakker