Wednesday, February 18, 2009

A Pastoral Letter From The Bishop

It Isn't Easy Being Anglican

 At the heart of the various difficulties in embracing the Anglican world is the brokenness of Anglicanism itself.  While this church is as historic as any, more prolific than most and wonderfully rich in its liturgy, it is today a broken church.  Once merely the church of the British Isles, the empire took this way of faith around the world.  The Anglican way grew to be a large body of Christians second only to Rome and Orthodoxy.

Even today, Christians of the Anglican faith are on the front lines geographically in the global south.  Every day, Anglicans spread the Gospel, form parishes, teach the faith, and make converts of unbelievers.  In a few short years, the number of Anglican Christians in Nigeria, the Sudan, Congo, Indonesia and many other places have swelled to be counted in the tens of millions.  It may be said with integrity that Anglicans are taking a back seat to no other Christian tradition in spreading the faith of Jesus Christ in the 2/3 world.  In Latin America, where Anglican Christians had little more than a few scattered chapels just a decade ago, the church is vibrant, robust and growing by leaps and bounds. 

Meanwhile, these same vibrant Christians have witnessed the scandal of what passes as Anglican Christianity in the “material west”.   

With deep respect I say, Rome has not captured my heart, nor has Orthodoxy taken hold of my soul.  But it would be unfair to characterize my own choice as merely one of default, that is, having examined both of the other sisters of apostolic faith and having found myself identifying with the Anglican way solely because I would not or could not choose one of them.  I am not Anglican merely because I found myself having to “settle” for some supposed lesser thing.

No, I am orthodox, catholic, but Anglican.  

Rome and, to a much lesser degree, Orthodoxy are more magisterial, more hierarchal and appear better equipped to make things “tidy”.  The Anglican way is no place for those who cannot live within tensions.  It is an impossibly challenging and difficult place for those who desire or need “tidy”. The Anglican way is freer, but it is messy. It just is what it is. Some say that is both the magic and the limp of the Anglican way.

Yet, where would the Christian faith be without her?  There would have been no King James Bible, no Book of Common Prayer, and while I won’t flesh out my complete thoughts here, no civilization as we know it in the west.  This is my opinion, I grant you, but the Anglican contribution to the western world simply cannot be measured.

The best I can likely do in this broken family, this Anglican Church, is to find a place of honesty and integrity.  First, I must recognize how messed up this group is, and this I honestly confess.  Secondly, whenever I hear of the difficulties that Romans have or the Orthodox have (or the troubles among the free church Evangelicals, for that matter) nothing in me sees the need to gloat.  Humility should always forbid it, but for Anglicans, this is a particularly humbling era.  

I choose to walk in the Anglican way because I honestly believe the Lord has led me to walk in this way. I believe He ordered my steps.  I know. I know there is a risk in making such a statement.  It may appear that I “fix blame” for my love for the Prayer Book on the Lord and dodge my own responsibilities in the matter of my Christian witness.  

Yet, I testify that my prayer life finds its home in the Prayer Book the way the swallow finds her home near the altar in Jerusalem.  I am Anglican.

There is work to do wherever one finds oneself planted by the Lord in His vineyard. There is pruning to do, weeds to pull, walls to rebuild, marauders to defend against, plants to husband, fruit to grow and a harvest to bring in.  Perhaps some vineyards are harder to work than others, this I grant you, but none are the Paradise of God, not yet.  This is the cry we hear, even now, emanating from the Eschaton.


Sola Gratia,

+Frederick G. Fick MSJ

February 18. 2009

Healing Prayer

Fr. Tim Fountain
Healing Prayer Sunday
Does God intervene to heal human sickness?
A. Yes. This is the witness of the Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments, and the testimony of Christians all through church history, including our own time.   Psalm 30:2, "O LORD my God, I cried out to you, and you restored me to health."

B. In our own Anglican tradition, the first Book of Common Prayer (1549) included THE ORDER FOR THE VISITACION OF THE SICKE. There are prayers for healing in our 1979 Prayer Book and other books used in Episcopal churches today, such as Ministry With the Sick and The Book of Occasional Services.

Why does God heal?
A. First, God heals to display his own glory.
1. As in the healing of Naaman the Syrian (II Kings 5:1-14). If we read on into verse 15, we see the impact of the healing. Naaman says, "Now I know that there is no God in all the earth except in Israel" and, in verse 17, "…your servant will no longer offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god except the Lord." (LORD reflects the Hebrew way of expressing God’s unique name.)
2. As in the healing of the Galilean leper in Mark 1:40-45. Jesus tells the man to show his healing "as a testimony" to God’s work. The man’s witness causes people to come to Jesus in great numbers, as they recognize "the glory of God in the face of Christ" (II Corinthians 4:6).
3. We see how healing moves the Psalmist to glorify God (30:13), "Therefore my heart sings to you without ceasing, O LORD my God, I will give you thanks for ever."
4. Often in the Bible, God explains that He is acting "For my (God’s) Name’s sake." Healings are one of various supernatural ways that God calls the whole creation back to its Creator and Master. This is not a comfortable way for us to think – it’s about God’s glory, not our agenda! We miss the point of the miracles if we ignore this.

B. Second, God heals because of who He is.
1. This is expressed clearly and beautifully in Mark: "Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand…" Healings show not only God’s presence and power, but reveal His personality. It is God’s nature to care about us and respond to our prayers.

Why does the church offer healing prayer?
A. Mainly because we seek God’s glorious and loving presence. Healing prayer is an opportunity to bring people to God and to let God’s kingdom break into their lives.

B. We pray because we need God – the church has no "magical" power to control who gets healed or when healing occurs.

C. We pray because we don’t have easy answers for why some are healed immediately, some later and some not at all – these answers are all in the mind and heart of God, and we go there by prayer.

D. We pray because the Bible itself tells us that there are times when we will not understand God’s ways. The Psalmist says (30:8-9), "Then you hid your face, and I was filled with fear. I cried out to you, O LORD… "

E. Our son, Joey, had another seizure this week. Tim, Jr. has undiagnosed shoulder pain and Melissa has chronic issues. We don’t understand why these problems persist. But we pray because God is both Lord of our lives and lover of our souls.

Let me end with some encouragement from Naaman the Syrian…
A. He did not "deserve" a miracle
1. He was an enemy of God’s people
2. He had a big ego
3. He wanted healing on his own terms, not God’s

B. But he was open to God’s possibilities
1. He listened to what the Israelite girl had to say
2. He listened to his servants’ advice

C. He had just enough humility to try things God’s way (as a combat officer, he probably had a realistic and practical personality, able to say, "This strategy is not working - I need to try something else.")

D. Naaman shows us that we don’t have to "earn" a miracle – but we might find one if we are humbly open to some possibilities:
1. The possibility that God’s glory is in this place, this morning;
2. The possibility that He knows our needs and is waiting for us to seek His help;
3. The possibility that the Creator and Master of the Universe cares about each little creature, each human being – each of us – personally.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Alice C. Linsley Writes With Clarity

  1. In his essay “Priestesses in the Church?”, C.S. Lewis wrote, “…I heard that the Church of England was being advised to declare women capable of Priests’ Order. I am, indeed, informed that such a proposal is very unlikely to be seriously considered by the authorities. To take such a revolutionary step at the present moment, to cut ourselves off from the Christian past and to widen the divisions between ourselves and other Churches by establishing an order of priestesses in our midst, would be an almost wanton degree of imprudence. And the Church of England herself would be torn in shreds…”

    Lewis was speaking personally, as obviously he was opposed to the innovation of women in the Order of Priest, but he was also speaking prophetically, as is now apparent. Women priests is an innovation which, like a wedge driven into dry wood, has split the Anglican Communion. As is often the case, one innovation leads to another. This innovation led to the ordination of non-celibate homosexual clergy and to the blessing of same-sex unions in the Anglican Church of Canada and in The Episcopal Church USA. The actions of these churches has led to a fracturing of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

    Jesus Christ is the fullness of all things in heaven and on earth, both invisible and visible. The Gnostics used “pleroma” to describe the metaphysical unity of all things, but Paul uses the term to speak about how all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ in bodily form (Col. 2:9). This means that the Church can expect no change in Holy Tradition, only the consummation of all things when Christ returns.

    The Bible does not say that women can be priests, but the binary distinctions that frame the biblical view of Reality make “woman priest” an ontological impossibility. The Scriptures do not forbid women priests because the very idea of women sacrificing animals in the Temple was beyond imagination. In fact, it would have been regarded as a great affront to the Divine order wherein gender roles and the two bloods were distinguished as binary opposites. C.S. Lewis presents the grotesqueness of women priests in his depiction of the savage slaying of Aslan by the White Witch. If you wonder why the image is so troubling, consider that woman was made to bring forth life, not to take it.

    The egalitarianism that prompts clergy to keep talking about women priests is not part of the Biblical worldview. God’s order in creation is exactly that: order. It exists to orient humans to Reality, to keep us from becoming confused and lost. So God has given us the stars and the moon, the planets and the constellations to orient us. God has given us the sunrise in the East and the sun set in the West in orient us. He has given us the Three Witness of the water, the Blood, and the Spirit that we might know the Blessed Trinity.

    The Church is not a democracy. No councils, even ecumenical councils, can change God’s order in creation. This is God’s message to Job. Who do we think we are to question what God has established. Were we there when God created the world and all that is in it?

    This is but one of three essays on the subject.  To read all of this essay and the others, go here  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Forward In Faith N.A.

                               Bishop Richard Lipka

                Bishop Frederick Fick                                                           

Bishop Keith Ackerman                   

Bishop Paul Hewitt (left)   Bishop Bill Wantland (right)

"Foot High" Pie

In southern Illinois, along I-70, not too awful far outside of St. Louis is an exit that is announced by a small sign that advertises "foot high pie".  Intrigued by this sign since seeing it for the first time 8 months ago, we looked for it again today, determined to do this time what we did not find time to do in the past; stop and order a piece of "foot high pie".

If you are wondering, the answer is yes.  The pie tastes as good as it looks.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Forward In Faith N.A. To Meet In Executive Council

Forward In Faith - North America will meet this week for an important executive council meeting in Belleville, Illinois at the retreat facilities of Our Lady Of The Snows. Bishop Frederick Fick and Fr. John Manning will be attending to represent the MSJ. 
From the FiFNA website comes this question and answer:

1. What role will FiFNA take in as the ACNA continues its new existence?

a.  As the primary voice for Anglo-Catholic Mission and Renewal, we will need to put into action the means by which we will be a missionary Church. As an ACNA Sub-Province (formerly a Common Cause Partner), we need to implement that missionary strategy and form it to the new governance of the ACNA reflecting our historic expression of the Catholic Faith.

Contact Information

11195 S. Grayling Rd.
Roscommon, MI 48653

Telephone: 586-264-6044
msjanglican "at"