A running commentary by a former Anglican priest who was baptized Catholic,

kidnapped from the Church in his youth,

and found his way back through the blessings of Anglican spirituality.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Understanding the Times

From the creation of the world until the fall of Adam and Eve was an apparently short time. Some believe that it was even on that first Saturday when God was resting from His work that the serpent came and tempted Eve. Whatever day it was, it was clearly a short time from when God put all things into existence and to when Adam plunged mankind into sin and ruin. Whatever beautiful things God sends our way, we tend to pollute them with our sinful desires. It is rare that God does not have to clean up after His children.

Then thousands of years later (yes, I believe in a young Earth--the Bible does not appear to offer any other understanding of cosmology), the Lord sends His Son to be born as a man on Earth, and the entire cycle of degeneration is stopped. During those millennia, mankind had shortened his lifespan, wandered off into multitudinous idolatries, and forgotten who her Maker really was. Even the small nation of Israel profligated itself so much that it murdered the very Deliverer that she had prayed for.

Jesus created a Church in the first century, and gave it leaders to guide it into all truth. This Church, His bride, was far from pure in the last two thousand years of history, but her behaviors never descended into total apostasy. She has had her ups and downs; good times and bad; and varying degrees of wisdom. There came a time, about six hundred years ago, that she had so gotten off track from what it means to be a submissive wife to her Divine Husband, that her children cried out to God for help. There were numerous voices that spoke of the abusive behaviors of Mother Church, but few were treated as anything more than a fly in the ointment. This eventually led to many of the Church's children deciding that they could not "take it anymore" and they ran away from home. Some went out and tried to start their own homes. Some ended up living on the streets. Most were sincerely wanting to serve God, but were confused about how to go about that. All were hurt by this family rift, and though many of the children in England held to their faith in a manner much more similarly to Mother Church, the rift remained.

Now, five hundred years later, we find ourselves wondering what God is doing with us. The rift is so deeply rooted in the hearts of the children of those children who left, that most do not even realize that three fourths of the Church's history did not have this particular rift. There are even a large number of Christians who cannot picture a world without this division, and have sought to justify the rift as pleasing to God. Some have gone so far as to say that reunion is not the desire of God, and that we are supposed to be broken up into our different denominations.

"And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do" (1 Chr 12:32). These men have the honor of being remembered because of their ability to discern the situations of their contemporary history and determine what action was best for the people of God. Would that there were more men like them today, but there are not. There are far too many who can discern what they personally want to do, but not what is best for all of the people of God. Sometimes it is best to humble ourselves and be willing to give up our prestige and honor. There are times when a father needs to humble himself before his family and say, "I've led you wrong, and I ask for your forgiveness. Our family is going to take a new direction for greater faithfulness to God." There are times when a Bishop needs to be willing to give up his mitre and stop wearing purple, and not because of any fault of his own. There are times when a church may need to say, "we have to do the right thing, even if that means we suffer for it." This is one of those times, and it is a commandment of God that we seek full unity with the historic Church of Jesus Christ as it is centered in the successor of the Apostle Peter.

When a family is broken and the members see their responsibility to reconcile and restore the relationship, we cannot judge those who do not yet see this necessity. We, however, must be faithful to that which the Lord has revealed to us. We must return home to the Catholic Church and find that which Jesus prayed for: that the people of God would be one as Christ and the Father are One. St. Aidan's, as a parish, is seeking to do just that at this time, and it is in our prayers that the Lord would be gracious to us and grant this unity as soon as possible. May God be glorified above all.

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