Thursday, October 14, 2004

October 18, the Church Year & "The Windsor Report"

What the Anglican Communion Office has decided to call "The Windsor Report" will appear in the week of Trinity XIX in terms of the Church Year.

The Report of the Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission, chaired by Archbishop Eames, will be released on St Luke's Day, October 18, in the Crypt of St.Paul's Cathedral, London.

For many centuries, the Collect for the nineteenth Sunday after the Festival of the Holy Trinity, was constant and in the English translation from the Latin in The Book of Common Prayer is:

The Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity

O God, forasmuch as without thee we are not able to please thee: Mercifully grant, that thy Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Epistle: Ephesians 4.17-32 The Gospel: S. Matthew 9:1-8

Here are some comments on this Collect.

We can only genuinely desire to please the Lord our God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, if and when he inspires us so to do. In and of ourselves, because our natures are infected by sin, we cannot produce by our own effort the purity of heart, mind and will that is necessary to worship the Lord God in the beauty of holiness and in spirit and in truth.

To recognize this powerlessness within ourselves is to begin to move into the sphere where we can worship God aright, for the confession before the LORD of our weakness and sin, our impotency and our spiritual sickness, is the beginning of his true worship and praise. And this beginning occurs because of his prevenient grace!

Therefore, we invoke our Father in heaven, by his great mercy and because of his marvellous grace, to send us the assistance that we need in order to be what he calls us to be. We ask for the gift and presence of the Holy Ghost - the One who comes in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ, bearing his virtues and graces - to indwell our souls that we may be rightly inspired, directed and guided in how we are to please our Creator, Redeemer & Father, in what we think and say and do.

Let us so pray and let us be so directed by the personal presence of the Third Person of the Blessed, Holy and Undivided Trinity.

The Epistle is a vigorous call to holiness of life as we walk with Christ and the Gospel is a proclamation of the power of Christ to save, help and guide us.

There is hope for the Provinces of the Anglican Family if the reality of what is asked in this Collect is known practically in their common life.

October 18 is St. Luke's Day and here is the Anglican Collect for this day:

Almighty God, who calledst St Luke the Physician, whose praise is in the Gospel, to be an Evangelist, and Physician of the soul: May it please thee that, by the wholesome medicines of the doctrine delivered by him, all the diseases of our souls may be healed; through the merits of thy Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

This Collect presumes that the inner life of man (mind, emotions & will) are diseased by the presence and influence of sin. It also proclaims that in the holy and powerful medicine of the Gospel there is cleansing, forgiveness and healing.

Here again we can say that if the Provinces of the Anglican Family truly mean this Prayer then not only the disease of sexual immorality but all other diseases, many of them more serious than sexual sins, would be faced, confessed, turned from and healed.

The problem with much modern church life is that we avoid the obvious for it is too demanding of us and we search for sophistication in order to avoid doing what we know we ought to do and being what we ought to be! I fear that The Windsor Report will belong to this modern escapism but if so all the more that we should pray and mean these Collects as we offer them on the 18th!

The Revd Dr Peter Toon October 14, 2004.

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