Lord, teach us to pray

Fish, Snake, Egg, Scorpion

Lessons : Gen 18:20-33; Col 2:6-15; Luke 11:1-13

Not one time, in all my years of ordained ministry, has someone said to me, Okay Ray Ive mastered that prayer thing, what’s next for me to learn? In fact I’m not certain that I have ever met someone that is even close to feeling that they are more than a novice when it comes to prayer, including myself.

Fr. BE brought it up in a recent sermon the quote from a past saint who said that the Lord loves it even when we pray poorly. That took a lot of guilt away from me because that is how I would describe my prayers most of the time. I was reading a blog from a priest about prayer and he said that he would start his morning and evening prayers with this brief confession, “What is about to happen will not go well, Lord. I’m sorry.”  

So if you don’t feel great about your prayer life I can guarantee that you are far from being alone. In fact you are in some pretty impressive company because the Apostles themselves felt that they needed improvement. That is why they went to the Master and asked to be taught. “Lord teach us to pray as John taught his disciples.”

And Jesus does and as you would expect it is genius. He gives them a model prayer that touches on 5 key areas and we can see in this prayer 5 characteristics that make will make their prayers effective. First let’s look at the 5 key areas.

He begins the prayer ascribing to the Lord the honor that He is due. “Father, hallowed by your name.” Psalms 29:2 and 98:8 command us to do just that. We can see this pattern all through the great collects of the Book of Common Prayer. Listen to the opening lines of several collects. “Almighty and everlasting God, who dost govern all things in heaven and earth…” “O God, the strength of all those who put their trust in thee…” “O most loving Father who willest us to give thanks for all things….” “Almighty and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made….” “O God whose glory is always to have mercy….”

Beginning our prayers by ascribing honor to God reminds us who it is that we are addressing. We are not dropping a coin in a vending machine and expecting an automatic response. We are not naming it and claiming it and demanding Him to deliver like God is our butler. We are not putting good thoughts into the Universe so that good karma will come back to us. We are children of the Most High coming to the Omnipotent Holy One with reverence, awe, love and devotion.

Next we pray for His kingdom to come. This is our first petition. Matthew adds to this petition that His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. We immediately see through this petition whose agenda we are on when we pray. My agenda in prayer is not to be Ray getting his will and his way. Rather it is to be the agenda of my prayer, and indeed for my entire life, for the Lord to have His will and His way. And that is a positive thing because what could be better for me or for my family or for my church or for my nation or for this entire planet than God’s will being accomplished?

I was asked by a parishioner last week what I thought was the greatest idol that we had in the Church today. I replied that it was seeking the middle class American life above the kingdom of God. And in my opinion what makes it such a dangerous idol is that there is so much good about the middle class American life. I know because I am living it.

There is nothing inherently wrong with getting an education, finding a good job, buying a home and raising a family. There is nothing wrong with Dave Ramsey’s goals of living like no one else so that you can live and give like no one else.

But where these things become wrong is when these good things are moved to the wrong place on our priority list. Jesus said that we are to seek first His kingdom and so it is a problem when we place before His kingdom our favorite teams our careers or even our families.

After we pray for His kingdom to come we enact it in our lives by placing all that we have before Him. His kingdom comes in our lives when He is Lord of our finances and Lord of our families and Lord of our careers and Lord of our very futures.

The second petition has us pray for our daily bread. I have heard it said that it is selfish to pray for ourselves and so we never should. We should pray for others but when it comes to our personal lives we should just pray, “Thy will be done.” That sounds quite spiritual but it does not match what Jesus teaches us here about prayer. In this second petition we pray for our needs…not our wants but our needs. We are praying for our daily bread not a Mercedes Benz. In fact it may be necessary to pray first to discern the difference between wants and needs so that we can pray effectively for our daily bread. And notice that this prayer anticipates our needs rather than waiting until the need arises.

Next we pray for forgiveness. This is how the prayers of the Book of Common Prayer are structured. We offer the Prayers of the People or Prayers for the Whole State of Christ’s Church before we seek forgiveness for our sins. This order also keeps us from making prayer all about ourselves.

In this version of the Lord’s Prayers Jesus uses the word “everyone.” He says,“For we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us.Well do we? What about those who don’t ask for or deserve forgiveness? We are to forgive even those who don’t deserve it because God forgave us in Christ when we did not deserve it and before we could even ask for it. The Scripture says, “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

It is helpful that Jesus also uses the word “indebted.” I take this to mean that I am canceling out their debt to me and that is an action and not a feeling. I simply picture myself ripping up their IOU. Sometimes I have to do it a number of times but I don’t have to wait until I feel like it, I don’t even have to want to be their buddy. I simply cancel their debt just as God has canceled mine.

The last petition is for protection. We pray to be delivered from a time of trial and Matthew adds “and rescue us from the evil one.” There is a vast difference between being disciplined by the stern hand of a loving Father and being assaulted by the evil one and it is the latter that we are to pray protection from. Let’s be clear. We are not praying that our life will be a bed of roses. Jesus in many times and many ways lets us know that if we are going to follow Him that it won’t be the Rose Parade. In this petition we are recognizing that we are in a spiritual battle and we are asking for the Lord’s protection.

Those are the 5 key areas for which to pray. Let’s next consider the 5 characteristics of this prayer. First note how short it is. Prayed slowly it is under 20 seconds.

This young priest was being mentored by an elderly one and when it came time to pray the young priest wanted to impress his mentor so as they knelt at the altar he prayed and he prayed and he prayed and he prayed. Finally the old man tapped him on the shoulder and said, “You know if you prayed more often you wouldn’t have to pray quite so long.”

In some circles it is a badge of honor to be someone who prays a long time. In fact for some it is a form of spiritual pride. (I think it is called “Phariseeism.”) But Jesus illustrates here that is not true that you have to pray long to pray effectively. I would argue that it is the frequency of your prayers and not the length of your prayers that is most important. I refer you back to the collects of the Book of Common Prayer. They are brief but many of them are so full of theological content that you could preach an entire sermon from them. So when you pray ignore the clock.

Second note how specific the petitions are, such as praying for daily bread. If we want specific answers to prayer then we need to pray specifically.

When I first went into full time ministry I did not have the money to purchase the clothes that I needed. One morning I was reading the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus says that we are not to worry about what we are to wear because our heavenly Father knows what we need. I decided to respond to that promise and I asked the Lord for $500 to buy clothes. That very night after I preached a sermon a man walked up and handed me a check for $500. When I told him what I had prayed that morning he got misty eyed and said that he had wanted to give me the money for weeks but never felt that the time was right until this night. I think he was as blessed to know that he was being led by the Lord as I was to receive the money. So pray for your needs and pray specifically.

Third these prayers are offered daily, that is if we want our daily bread. We don’t wait until the cupboard is bear and then cry out to God. This prayer is meant to be daily contact and communion with our heavenly Father and not a one time cry from the belly of the whale. In fact even more than daily, this prayer invites us into an ongoing conversation with God, or as Brother Lawrence put it, to practice the presence of God.

Fourth, this prayer is to be persistent, as Jesus illustrated by telling the story of the guy banging on the door for bread. Jesus uses the words, “ask” “seek” “knock.” So we don’t pray once and then forget about it. We are invited to make a nuisance out of ourselves with our petitions. We see this in the Old Testament lesson that borders on being comical as Abraham strikes a deal with God about the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.

But why persistence in prayer? I think for a couple of reasons. First, as we pray persistently for something we may find ourselves altering our prayer. As mentioned earlier we may find that we are praying for a want and over time change it to praying for a need.

But second, as we pray persistently we are in a sense drawn into that prayer and it becomes a part of us. William Cary was an 18th century English cobbler. In his shop he had a map of the world and as he made shoes he would pray and weep over those who did not have the Gospel. Eventually he could not remain in his shop and he left all and went to India to share the love of Christ. He had such an impact that he is often referred to as “the father of modern missions.” It was his persistent prayer that molded his heart and developed his vision for India. Persistent prayer is how we get some skin in the game.

Lastly, effective prayer is offered in faith. But it is not faith in how much faith we have, rather it is faith in the character of God. Jesus says, Is there anyone among you who, if your child asked for a fish, will give a snake instead of a fish? Or if the child asks for an egg, will give a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him? As we pray we keep the character of God before us. As we pray we remember that nothing is impossible with God. As we pray we remember that He is full of mercy and loving-kindness. As we pray we remember that His mercies are new every morning. So our faith is not in our faith, our faith is in His goodness.

It is said that the best way to learn how to pray is to pray. Jesus has given us the perfect prayer and if we begin there we have no reason to doubt that He will continue to teach us as He did His disciples. So let’s follow their example and ask the Master to teach us to pray. “Lord, teach us to pray.” Amen.

Called and Sent

Harevst Plentiful

Lesson: Luke 10:2-20

According to an article last year in Forbes Magazine 90% of all start up businesses fail. I knew that it was high but I didn’t expect it to be that high. So from a purely secular point of view the chances of the brand new Christian church surviving for even one generation was minimum at best. But the idea that Jesus’ startup would continue to expand 2,000 yrs later would be beyond anyone’s imagination. And yet here we are today, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets proclaiming the faith that has been once and for all delivered to the saints.

I submit to you that a major part of the success of the Church was due to the miraculous transformation of Jesus’ ragtag band into the Apostles that we so highly revere today. This Gospel lesson gives us insights into how the Lord did this transformation in their lives. Fr. BE preached recently about us having turning points with the Lord and it is my hope that as we look at their transformations that we may discover some turning points for ourselves.

The first thing that we can see Jesus doing to transform the disciples is to call them to prayer. I hope that I am not being irreverent in saying this but it seems to me that our Lord was being a wee bit sneaky here. He tells them that the harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few so He calls on them to pray to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers into the fields. Question: who is it that will be sent out as laborers into the harvest as an answer to their prayers? The disciples, right? So He is really having them pray for themselves. Why should prayer come first?

Several years ago I was at a conference in Columbia Tennessee and attending with me were an Episcopal priest and a Presbyterian minister from the same small town. Over lunch I asked them what they were doing to grow their churches and they replied, “Nothing.” That surprised me and so I asked why not, and they replied that they sat down together and did the math. They said that statistically, in a town their size, only about one third of the people were going to church. And of that one third the vast majority were attending fundamentalist churches. By their calculations only about 3% of the 1/3rd would be interested in liturgical worship, and since they represented the only two liturgical churches in town, they concluded that they were competing over just a handful of people. They didn’t think that it was worth the effort and that is why they did not bother to try to grow their churches.

Did you catch the flaw with their logic? They were focusing on the 1/3rd and were forgetting the 2/3rds who are unchurched! What is sad and surprising it that those statistics are generally true throughout the US, even in the Bible belt. So Jesus words that the fields are white with harvest are as true today as when He first spoke them. That is why we must pray first before we do anything else. We pray so that we can get God’s perspective about the harvest. We pray so that we will have God’s heart about the harvest. We pray so that we will know our place as laborers in the harvest.

I had a friend who was a priest in Dayton Tennessee, where the Scopes trails were held. He called himself the Vicar of all Monkeytown. He did what he called Wal-Mart evangelism. He would hang out at the Wal-Mart and when someone would ask him about his clerical collar he would engage them in conversation and before they knew it they were attending his church. This priest regularly baptized more adults than he did infants. He used to say that evangelism is not difficult; all you need is a bucket of water and a pagan. It may not be quite that easy, but first we need to pray because we are not used car salesmen closing a deal. We are ambassadors who represent the King of Love bringing Good News to all people. We need to get our orders from the King.

After calling them to pray, Jesus gives them an assignment. He tells them that He is sending them out as lambs among the wolves and they are not to carry a purse or bag or sandals and they are to live from the benevolence of others.

In his wonderful book The Training of the Twelve, AB Bruce points out that the conditions Jesus placed upon this particular commissioning were not permanent. We are told at the end of Luke’s Gospel, when Jesus sends them out for the last time, Jesus says, “But now if you have a purse, take it, and also a bag; and if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one. Lk 22:36” Obviously by this point in their training they had learned to trust the Lord in such a way that they would not rely on their purses or bags or swords so it was safe for them to take those things along. But in this earlier commissioning they could not do so in order that the valuable lesson of trust would be learned.

When I was in college I met regularly with a man who was discipling me at a pivotal point in my life. I was wrestling with a whether or not I was called to ordained ministry and after praying about it for some time and getting no direction I became very frustrated. I complained to my spiritual director. It seemed to me that if I was willing to serve, the least the Lord could do is to make it plain whether or not it was His will. In a rebuking tone the spiritual director said to me, “No Ray you are not asking for discernment, you want a map to come out of heaven to show you how the rest of your life is going to go so that you don’t have to walk by faith.” His words stung and they made me a little angry but I also knew that he hit the nail on the head. I was looking for assurances. I wanted to know that if I went this route that it would be successful. I didn’t want to hear that I had to trust. I certainly didn’t want to hear that I was being sent out as a lamb among the wolves.

Please know that if you are not called to ordained ministry that you are still not exempt from also learning this important lesson of trust. If you want to be a transformed person, who makes a difference in this world for the sake of the kingdom, then you need to know that there are no shortcuts. Your every day lives are filled with opportunities to cultivate trust as opposed to self-reliance. When you start your day with prayer you are confessing your reliance upon the Lord. When you offer thanks throughout the day you are acknowledging that it is not by your might but by His Spirit that you go forward. When you bring your tithes and offerings you are proclaiming trust that it is all His anyway and you are only returning a portion of what is His. When you pray for your spouse, your family and friends you are entrusting them to the Lord who alone is their rock and their salvation. When you share with someone the Good News of God in Christ you are demonstrating your trust that His Spirit will use your words to penetrate their hearts. When you take a stand for the truth and refuse to be a part of lies, knowing full well that you will pay a price for that stand, you demonstrate your trust that His rod and His staff will comfort you. Genuine trust in the Lord is like the powder milk biscuits commercial. It “gives shy people the courage to get up and do what needs to be done and it’s pure mostly.”

The other thing that we see the Lord is doing in this transformational training of the disciples is that He focuses their message. He tells them to tell others that the kingdom of God has come near and He tells them further that if anyone rejects them they also reject Jesus and if they reject Jesus then they also are rejecting the One who sent Him. That is pretty blunt and there is nothing pc about it. It is another way of His saying. “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, and no one comes to the Father except by Me.”

We need to key in on this focused message because much of the Church, if it still is the Church, is waffling badly. I saw an article by the top leader of a main line denomination called Pondering the Great Commission. Given this weeks lessons I was hoping to be given new insights. Instead it was the antithesis of Jesus’ clarity and focus. The author asked the question why we would seek to baptize other people and rather than saying, “because Jesus told us to in the Great Commission” the conclusion was that we should NOT seek to baptize others but rather “graciously recognize that God is at work in the world around us.” Last week another major mainline denomination opened their biannual General Assembly by praying to the Muslim god Allah. Jesus sent his disciples out like prophets to preach repentance for the kingdom of God is at hand and these folks go out to like Mr. Rogers to tell everyone that God loves them just like they are and that they don’t need to change.

The difference between these two messages could not be greater and as we might expect the results of these two messages are also very different. The mainline churches in the United States that preach this universalist message are in serious decline. Meanwhile the churches around the world that are preaching the focused message that Jesus gave to the Apostles are healthy. The Anglican Church of Nigeria, where the Gospel is preached without compromise, tripled under Archbishop Peter Akinola. What is even more amazing is that while the harvest fields in Africa include horrifying conflicts with Islam, according to aljeera.net, they are seeing 16,000 Muslims a day convert to Christianity. That is nearly 6 million per year! God says that His Word never returns to Him void but accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it. If we will send out a clear word then the Lord of the Harvest will be able to use it. If we water it down and make it pc then it will no longer be the Word of the Lord and therefore profitable for no one.

I came across an article that offered an interesting theory. About 30 years before our War for Independence Anglican priest George Whitefield traveled our land preaching the uncompromising Gospel of Jesus Christ. Traveling from New England to Georgia he preached over 18,000 sermons. Benjamin Franklin was fascinated by him and reported that on one occasion Whitfield preached to over 20,000 people on Boston Commons. People were converted and had their faith renewed by the tens of thousand and this article suggested that it was this spiritual awakening that paved the way for the American Revolution. Why? Because once people tasted spiritual freedom through Jesus Christ they longed for political freedom as well.

It is this life changing and nation changing and even world changing Gospel that Jesus called His Apostles to preach. But these calling narratives are not given to us in Holy Scripture to reminisce about the good old days. They are given to us instruct us about our own callings as well. While none of us are called to be Apostles with a capital “A” we are called to be small “a” apostles in our own worlds; with our families, with our friends, with our coworkers. An Apostle is simply one who is sent and Jesus continues to send out workers for the harvest. The harvest is still plentiful and the workers are still too few so lets add some more workers. Amen.

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

WO

Recently a priest was elected bishop for The Anglican Church in North America whose wife is also ordained. For some this has nudged the sleeping 600 lb gorilla in the ACNA living room. Since our founding as a province we have existed in an uneasy truce, agreeing that no woman will be consecrated as bishop but leaving it up to each diocese if women will be ordained to the priesthood. There are those who see this as a secondary or even tertiary issue. But others, who see it intimately connected to the demise of the Episcopal Church (TEC), believe it touches upon core doctrines.

In 1974 the Episcopal Church ceased being a steward of the mysteries of God[1] and became an innovator. Their experiment changed nearly 2,000 years of Christian tradition by admitting women into the priesthood and by many measures the experiment was a failure. A domino effect ensued. First it severely damaged ecumenical talks with both the Roman and Orthodox Communions. This is counter to Jesus’ prayer for His Church to be one[2]. Second the priesthood, rather than being viewed as a divine calling, was now seen as a civil rights issue. Additionally the very same arguments for women’s ordination were used for non-celibate homosexuals to be ordained. Third, treating women’s issues and homosexual issues as moral equivalents opened the door to the Episcopal Church’s acceptance of homosexual marriage, contrary to our Lord’s definition of marriage.[3] Fourth the loss of catholic order led to a further loss of catholic faith that resulted in nearly 1,000 faithful exiting the Church each week![4] The snowball went from individuals to parishes to entire dioceses fleeing the heresies of Schori’s universalism and the Spongian rejection of the major tenants of the faith. Fifth, the feminization of the Church has led to an exodus of men. Recent polls reveal that nearly twice as many women as men attend church[5]. Not wanting to appear misogynistic, most men won’t overtly oppose women clerics, they will simply disappear. The list goes on but the real question is why this experiment has failed? The Church has seen God do new things in the past that advanced His kingdom but this innovation has only led to further damage and deeper divisions. Why?

Rebellion

The pattern of the Church that emerged as early as the first century was that she took counsel together when facing conflicts or establishing foundational doctrines. We can read of the Council of Jerusalem in the Book of Acts or the Seven Ecumenical Councils over the first few centuries of the Church. But the ordination of women did not evolve in this manner. This monumental decision was not made in consultation with other parts of Christ’s Body nor even with the permission of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church. It was done in an act of rebellion. Three retired renegade bishops ordained eleven women to the priesthood and then presented them to the General Convention. This body, facing a gotcha moment rather than a move of the Spirit, decided that the ordinations were irregular but valid. It is no accident that this act of defiance happened in the height of the feminist movement. Rather than being a new work of God it was an invasion of the culture into the Church. Many believed that this action would grow the Church but just the opposite has happened. God did not bless the rebellion. As a compromise, bishops who did not agree with women’s ordination were given a conscience clause not to do so. Eventually however the conscience clause was removed and women’s ordination became mandatory for all bishops. Rebellions tend to squash freedom of conscience.

Iconoclasticism

During the Mass the priest represents the Church to Christ and Christ to the Church. The latter is known as ‘in persona Christi”[6] and is most evident during the anamnesis when he recites the very words of Christ, during the absolution and during the blessing. The chasuble that the celebrant wears represents the seamless robe of Christ for which the soldiers cast lots. The hard reality is that while God has no gender, Jesus does and a woman playing the role of Christ is as effective as the male members of Monte Python dressing up as women and speaking in a high pitch. It simply doesn’t work. The Book of the Revelation shows Christ as the Bridegroom and the Church as the Bride. While there are many and varied roles available to women in the Church it is both unnecessary and nonsensical for a woman to attempt to represent the Bridegroom. In maintaining the proper icon we proclaim the reality to which it points. Conversely in changing the icon to fit our demands we make it all about ourselves.

Inverted Headship

While men and women are equals ontologically, they have been given different roles by God. Some cite the verse that in Christ there is no Jew or Greek, male of female as an argument for women having any role that a man may have in the Church.[7] But in context this verse is about salvation not ordination. While it is true that men and women are equal inheritors of grace, they are not interchangeable in their callings. We look to the Trinity for this truth. A proper confession of the Holy Trinity is that each Person is fully God and therefore equal.[8] And yet it is also clear that the Son submits to the Father and the Spirit points humanity to the Son. While being equals they play differing roles. This concept is called “economic subordination.”

As the Father takes headship in the Trinity, without diminution of either the Son or the Spirit, so a father is to take headship in his family and a spiritual father is to take headship in the Church. When St. Paul gives instructions about bishops and priests he has only men in mind. “An overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife.”[9] There is no equivalent verse that addresses women.

Admittedly some of St. Paul’s admonitions are culturally driven, such as forbidding women to braid their hair and wear pearls.[10] In historical context this was more how prostitutes dressed and so the principle being put forward had to do with modesty and being careful for Christ’s reputation. But when St. Paul says that he does not allow women to have authority over men, he appeals beyond his culture to created order to make his case. He says that since it was Adam who was created first then men are to bear the leadership role.[11] St. Paul also made it clear that men, rather than lording over their wives, are to lead by laying down their lives for their wives as Christ did the Church.[12] I ask the rhetorical question in premarital counseling, “Wives are called to submit to their husbands and husbands are called to die for their wives….who has the harder job here?”

Some argue that women may serve as priests, and not confound the notion of headship, if they serve under a male priest. While this arrangement would be closer to biblical order it still misses the mark and not in an insignificant way. If the previous two millennia were correct and women cannot be priests, consider the consequences to the Church if she takes that role, even while serving under a male priest. When she is the celebrant at Eucharist are the bread and wine truly consecrated? When she offers absolution at a private confession or after the General Confession in the Mass are the people truly absolved of their sins? When she blesses are the people truly given God’s blessing or just her well wishes? Again, these are not insignificant considerations. If none of those things really mattered then there would be no need for the priesthood at all, neither male nor female.

Apostolic Recession

The priest has authority to administer the Sacraments through apostolic succession.[13] St. Paul gave careful instructions to St. Timothy concerning raising up bishops[14] and the early Church was very intentional in choosing the successors to the Apostles.[15] It is therefore noteworthy that all of the Apostles and all of their successors were men. Some argue that this was because of the prevailing culture and that times have changed. But consider two responses to that argument.

First the Scriptures are full of powerful women. There were famous wives like Sarah and brave sisters like Miriam who were not hesitant to speak truth to men. There were faithful women like Ruth and wise women like Ester. There were women judges and queens and prophetesses. It was to a woman that Christ first revealed Himself as raised from the dead and there is no more venerated human being in the history of the world than His mother. So if Christ wanted to make a woman an Apostle it would not have been beyond people’s ability to comprehend.

But second, when did Christ ever bend to the prevailing culture? He did what He did because He only performed the will of His Father. If it had been the will of the Father for female apostles then He would have called female apostles. But evidently it wasn’t so He didn’t.

Where the Episcopal Church was consistent was when it realized that there is no argument for a woman to be denied episcopal orders if she has been allowed priestly orders. And so in 1989 the first woman bishop was created and this was the beginning of the end of apostolic succession in TEC. Instead it entered apostolic recession. As sobering as it is to think of what does not transpire when a woman takes the role of a priest, it is doubly troubling to think of the ramifications of a woman invalidly acting as a bishop. Chief among the role of bishop is ordaining deacons and priests and consecrating fellow bishops. But if the bishop is a pretender what becomes of those who they have “ordained” and “consecrated?” More importantly what becomes of those whom they serve? The spiritual ramifications are chilling.

Apostolic succession, like the sacraments is not meant to be magical. As a priest I do not have the power or authority to consecrate anything I choose to become the Real Presence of Christ. I must have the correct substance of bread and wine. That is what Christ took and blessed and it is what I take and bless. To even consider alternatives is blasphemous.

And so it is with a bishop. When the first renegade bishops ordained those eleven women, even if they used the correct rites, they did not become priests. Just as I need the correct substance to consecrate the Eucharist, they needed the correct gender to ordain as priests. Even though he is a bishop, if he moves beyond the scope of the sacrament, he leaves behind the authority of the Church. Otherwise he could ordain a flock of Canadian snow geese and ask that they be admitted to the Church Pension Fund.

Conclusion

Anglicanism moves at a glacial speed and most of the time that is a very positive attribute. So while I realize that the matter of women’s ordination may not be settled in my lifetime, it is my hope that the Province will do everything possible to settle the matter. And it needs to be settled with certitude. Some have suggested that we embrace “two integrities” which in essence means that both sides are right. While sounding noble it is untenable for those who believe in a male only priesthood. For example it would be a violation of conscience for those who believe in the male only priesthood to receive from a woman celebrant and so it places us out of communion with one another. And as we learned in TEC to be silent and compliant only serves to propagate the innovation. Thus an up or down vote needs to happen eventually and then we will have to deal with the fallout. While we do not have many answers we can celebrate that the Head of the Church does and if we will be guided by His Word and Spirit, The Anglican Church in North America will have a bright future.

[1] I Corinthians 4:1

[2] John 17:21

[3] Matthew 19:5

[4] http://www.christianpost.com/news/episcopal-church-loses-50k-members-closes-69-parishes-147583/

[5] http://touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=14-01-026-f

[6] http://www.adoremus.org/0609Schall.html

[7] Galatians 3:28

[8] ref. Nicene Creed

[9] I Timothy 3:2

[10] I Timothy 2:9

[11] I Timothy 2:11-15

[12] Ephesians 5:25

[13] “Wherefore we must obey the priests of the Church who have succession from the Apostles, as we have shown, who, together with succession in the episcopate, have received the certain mark of truth according to the will of the Father; all others, however, are to be suspected, who separated themselves from the principal succession. Irenaeus d. 200

[14] I Timothy 3

[15] “Let them produce the original records of their churches; let them unfold the roll of their bishops, running down in due succession from the beginning in such a manner that [that first bishop of theirs] bishop shall be able to show for his ordainer and predecessor some one of the apostles or of apostolic men” Tertullian 160-225AD