It ought to surprise no one that I try to keep up with happenings in England and within Anglicanism. For many years I didn't do that. But in recent months I have been reading and listening to the sad tale of a gangrenous infection taking it's chilling grip on the body called the Church of England. If only there had been an amputation years ago of the infected limb, perhaps there might have been a recovery with a luminous hope that would have been fulfilled in unity with either Rome or Constantinople (of course I hope for unity of these two). But the necrosis has reached the heart now, and there is nothing left for it.
I write this for a couple of reasons. The first is a natural sadness that I feel for what was once my own mother church. It was there that I began to learn the Christian faith. It was there that I came to love the Sacraments. It was there that I came to know some of the incredible Saints of the Church. It was there that I came to love the liturgical life of the Church. So her death is particularly poignant to me. It hurts me very deeply. But this is the second time that I have experienced this because I remember seeing and feeling this when the American branch of the Church of England, the Episcopal Church, went through the same. And from the history which has unfolded here I can see years of difficulties and absurdities continuing in England. It is as though I saw one of the limbs die to this disease and now it has reached its heart. I can't help but be affected by this because it was very much part of my identity and life for so long. So this is partly personal.
The second reason I write this is because there are people out there who need our love and concern, who are experiencing this tragedy very deeply. We need to pray for them. They are Christians that we cannot afford to ignore in their hour of hurt. We are told by our Lord that we are to feed those who are hungry, and visit those who are sick. Well, here they are. They ought not to have to go through these sufferings by themselves. Very soon, at least in England, many of them will lose their church buildings, the clergy may well lose their income… everything will seem to be very unstable. They could at least use our empathy and perhaps more.
Thirdly, I write this because it appears to me that there are countless others--besides Anglicans--who are hurt and seeking. Their churches have left them isolated and alone. The music has changed to rock bands, and emotional owing and awing. Worship has become entirely casual and lost its experience of the transcendent God. Mores and values have shifted and things which once were called sin are now being thought of as alternative lifestyles. The Scriptures have lost their formative power in many churches because one may interpret them as one likes. People are hungry for what they know not, and it is our duty to feed them with real food.
This means we need to eat what is healthy for us, lest we give sweets and pies to those who need meat. We need to know our faith and know it as authentic and authoritative. There can be no compromising it, for if we should do so, again we would give nothing solid to those in want. The Faith of Christ is the only answer that there is. It is the only food that will truly nourish and we must give it to all who are in need.
Pray for the Anglicans who are in such difficulty. Look for all those who need to be fed and give them a sip from the fountain of life. It is nothing but an act of mercy and our duty.