Monday, September 08, 2014

Can an Anglican Catholic change a lightbulb?

Sermon Preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on Trinity XII 2014, the week following the retirement of the parish priest Fr. Raymond Thompson.

My dear friends, here we are at our new chapter. Fr Ray, we hope, is enjoying his well-earned rest, but we must move forward without him present physically, though he is with us in spirit. This is a big change for us all, and perhaps we are rather daunted by the thought of what happens next.

There is a popular viewpoint that we Anglican Catholics don’t do change very well. Some will say that the only reason that we exist is because we refuse to change. We are being told, “get with the times! This is the 21st century.” Actually, we have! We have a digital hymnal with which we can sing our hymns. It takes a bit of programming and often the wrong button might get pushed, but we survive. Perhaps we should move further into the 21st century and use lightbulbs on the altar instead of candles. You’ve heard of e-Cigarettes – electronic devices that give the ex-smoker a shot of nicotine. Perhaps we should get an e-thurible?

Progress is one thing, but we have to ask ourselves, progress to what? What are we going forward to?

The future is a scary place. If the news today is anything to go by, then we’re right to worry about what the future holds. We worry about the future for our little ones and how they are going to cope with the problems that our generation has caused. This is only natural and with good reason.

However, we are Christians, and this is the good news. We hear our Saviour say, “take no thought, saying , What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

You have heard these words many times but they tell us about our progress. Progress to what?

Progress to God! It is worth noting that there is a difference between being Eternal and being everlasting. Everlasting means not dying, continuing as things rise and fall around you. It means that things continue to progress. Eternal means not being affected by the passage of time.

Eternal beings do not change or progress. God is completely changeless. If He is completely changeless then the Truth that He reveals to us is changeless too, so that every Christian in every age is told the same thing about the Eternal Salvation that comes from God. There is no progress in the Christian Faith! This gives us Anglican Catholics the strength to be in the world as it changes, knowing that the Faith, Hope and Love that we have received from God cannot change.

We preach “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” We can trust God, for “Such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

If our intention is to go forward in the same faith of our fathers and mothers, then we will find life, but we must continue in our trust. We progress towards the changeless God And Him alone.

This parish will have to change a few things in order for it to continue in that faith but, by-and-large, things will stay the same. There will always be candles on the altar. There will always be charcoal in the Thurible and, if it gets programmed correctly, there will always be hymns in the digital hymnal.

Let us go forth into the future, knowing God’s changeless hand upon us and know that our future is much brighter than the world can understand.

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