What is proposed below will only be possible after there has been careful educational preparation and where there is charity, and, further, where it is agreed, in principle, that the one people of God should meet together on the Lord’s Day under the One Word of God and at the One Table of the Lord in the one sanctuary. (See below No 6 for the happy circumstance where there are too many people for one Service.)
Right now the problem (rarely perceived as a problem because usually accepted as a given) faced in both the USA and Canada can be put in these terms – as one capable priest clearly stated it to me recently:
“Agreed! There should be no need for two Eucharists in our churches [on Sunday morning]. There is, however, the small matter of the traditionalists who absolutely refuse to worship with anything other than an organ, ancient hymnody and the formal language of the BCP. Anything thing else just isn't proper! And on the opposite side of the fence, those who place no value whatsoever in ancient things and wish to worship only with contemporary forms and music. Neither has a lot of charity for the other, and both are the bane of pastors and priests who are called to lead them.”
- To move these two sets of people, who both belong to the One Body of Christ and pray to the One Father in the Name of the same Christ, towards seeing their unity in Christ by the Holy Spirit as fundamental and the Rite they use as important but secondary, is a task that must be faced courageously and wisely and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. (Regrettably I know of no literature available to help pastors perform this sacred task.)
- I suggest that the aim of the education will be to lead them to agree to a new Format for Sunday mornings which at the same time will provide them on every Second Sunday, and every alternate Feast Day, with their preference; or alternatively will provide them with one part of their preference each Lord’s Day.
- The new Format would be to recover the ancient and beneficial Format of having on Sunday Morning – Morning Prayer, the Litany and then the Order for Holy Communion. Right now Morning Prayer and the Litany are too rare but they are part of the offering to the LORD of Anglican Christians on the Lord Jesus’ Day. There could be a short break after Morning Prayer for visits to toilets and for people to come and go. So each group, the traditionalists and the progressives would enter into something new that would be enriching for all.
- One week the three Services as One could be in traditional language and the next week in contemporary language; or, Morning Prayer could be in traditional and then the Eucharist in contemporary one week and then the reverse the following week. Either way, it would be a fair division and the one people of God would be together as Anglicans (not abandoning either the Daily Office or the Litany) who are also Reformed Catholics (with the weekly Eucharist). Of course, there would be many matters to sort out and much charity needed, but it is something that can be done. Where there is a will there is a way.
- It is important that the integrity of each form of prayer language, the traditional and the contemporary, be kept separate for each has its own logic and style. Yet it is even more important that the local congregation of Christ’s flock be seen as one and actually be one in practice. Anglicans and Episcopalians have gotten too used to the idea of multiple services to suit specific tastes, and they have lost the ideal of the One Service in the One Place on the One Day for the One LORD.
- Where there are too many people to fit into the One Sanctuary, and where there are presently multiple services (say at 7.30 ; 9.00 and 10.30) there is a real problem. One solution is to start a new congregation and build a new church so that there are not too many for the one Sanctuary (this was the medieval method) and another is to do what is recommended in 4 above, but to do it twice on the Lord’s Day – once in the morning with Morning Prayer and again in the evening with Evening Prayer instead of Morning Prayer as the starter, making the effort to get people to be present sometimes in the morning and sometimes in the evening. No priest should normally celebrate more than once on any given day.
Happily, those churches which use only one form of prayer language do not have to bridge the gap of different languages; however, they too must surely face the call to have One Eucharist, prefaced by Morning Prayer and Litany! Being finished in the hour may suit nominal Christians; but for the Lord’s Day morning more than one hour is surely required to worship HIM in spirit and in truth. And to leave His courts with praise and rejoicing.
October 24, 2005 firstname.lastname@example.org