Friday, January 01, 2010

On the Feast of the Holy Name

January 1 is, in the Episcopal Church, the Feast of the Holy Name. I couldn't find anyone on YouTube singing the Vaughan Williams tune, and the other tune isn't right for what I am about to write (also, I just don't like it), so I'm afraid you'll just have to sing along yourself:

At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow,
Every tongue confess him king of glory now.
'Tis the Father's pleasure we should call him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty word.

The upcoming year, for those of us who loved our church for what it was, is likely to be grim. When Mary Glasspool gets her consents, the church shall be riven yet again. The anger from on high (by which I mean, the heights of 815 2nd Avenue) will discourage the orthodox and incite the heretics. Dioceses will write (or worse, allow their parishes to write) their own rites for homosexual marriages, citing GC resolutions as authorization to do so, and many of the same dioceses will allow increasingly large deviation from our common rites. A shrinking, besieged band, often beloved but seldom honored, will remember and move in the old ways; but the dominant churchmanship will continue to slide towards a high'n'wide'n'happy style in which "celebrate" because the only word for everything we do.

In between attempts to write this, I came across Tony Clavier talking about the same thing, more or less. So I will go to him for a moment, as he is more articulate about the matter than I seem to be at the moment:
Oddly enough for a person who yearns for the unity of Christendom, I have come to think that our abandonment of the distinctively Anglican “flavor” of worship and devotion, an abandonment variously justified as bringing us closer to other liturgical churches as well as making worship more accessible to moderns, has enormously harmed our witness and compromised our evangelism. A wise Bishop of Michigan, now in glory, once remarked that our contribution to unity had to come from the depth of our own tradition. That tradition was intimately anchored in our liturgical heritage and in its patient pastoral application.


So I live in a community which has nothing much to do but “affirm” people and offer them shares in real estate and a part in what goes on in those buildings, organized into an expensive structure which busies itself in good works.

And yet, I have no place else to go. It was the old PECUSA which called me forth from the dormancy of my childhood, and it was in a chaplaincy of that church that I was called into faith again. I do not trust the notion that one can choose among the churches through a theological scorecard, and the claims of those catholicisms that deny that I even go to a church presume too much, and brush off their own deep deficiencies too casually. It is a bit ironic that Fr. Clavier says, "Instead we seem to have morphed into “denominationalism”. By that I mean that the institution itself now claims our allegiance, a form of genealogical affirmation to structure as opposed to content", because increasingly I find loyalty to be holding me here-- not loyalty to the institution's representatives, for they have too often betrayed the trust put in them, but loyalty to the corpus, the bride sore oppressed. And so I pray for her, and hope, that what was lost and set aside and scorned be restored and made new.