On February 4, the Feast of St. Cornelius the Centurion, Bishop Hobby of the Anglican Diocese of Pittsburgh ordained me a Priest in the Church. The worship of God’s people in the liturgy of Ordination and Eucharist was a holy moment– filled with praise, intercession, Scripture, a tender and bold word from my friend Jonathan Martin, and so much more. Dear friends and family, coaches and mentors, and colleagues in ministry gathered to participate in this sacred moment. There is a great deal about this day that is worthy and fruitful for reflection. But as a catholic Pentecostal, I want to hone in on a particular moment: the consecration of the priest.
In the plot of this liturgy (because every liturgy tells a story), this moment comes beyond the presentation and the ministry of the Word. It follows an exhortation by the bishop and the examination of the ordinand, ensuring their commitment to this calling. Then the congregation calls upon the Holy Spirit to come upon the ordinand by praying the ancient hymn Veni Creator Spiritus. Following that, the bishop prays. Then he– and other priests present– lay hands on the one to be ordained and says the following:
Receive the Holy Spirit for the Office and Work of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed to you by the Imposition of our Hands. If you forgive the sins of anyone, they are forgiven. If you withhold forgiveness from anyone, it is withheld. Be a faithful minister of God’s holy Word and Sacraments; in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
He continues with more prayers for blessing and for effective preaching and teaching. It is a solemn moment, with the Spirit hovering over the people of God to do what the Spirit always does: to give “comfort, life and fire of love.” The anointing of Priests going all the way back to the apostles, with the imposition of hands calls all the exhortations of the Apostle Paul to Timothy to mind. The charge to announce God’s forgiveness calls to mind John’s picture of the disciples receiving the Spirit after the Resurrection. The Prince of Peace appoints an ambassador.
What mission and ministry look like for this Priest, only God knows, but the need for the ability and willingness given by God alone is evident. Lord, have mercy.
So, I recently returned from an Anglican Missions conference called New Wineskins, hosted by the New Wineskins Missionary Network. This was part of my seminary requirements for my M.Div, so I was a little more than roped into it. Overall, a great experience and a number of things to reflect on pastorally and missionally. But….I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. It had been rumored that a number of the influences in the New Wineskins “world” was the charismatic renewal in the Anglican/Episcopal churches. So, I was interested in seeing how people had integrated a conviction for the active ministry of the Holy Spirit with Anglican worship. I didn’t really get a good picture of that.
Remember, overall, my experience was positive overall…but there were some things that bothered me (and is not a reflection on the leaders, but on participants):
- A careless attitude towards the liturgy. Almost every part of the liturgy was dismissible, unimportant, and replaceable with something newer that someone else could come up with at any time.
- A marked irreverence for the Ministry of Word and Sacrament This is when the things someone was concerned with meant skipping out on, walking away from, or interrupting the heart of Christian worship. There was even a guy who just randomly ran around the auditorium, briskly past the table with no regard for those worshipping together.
- Several dismissive remarks about prayer book worship, the Thirty-Nine Articles, and the authority of ordained leadership.
And this is what’s begun to bother me about some (not all!) of the charismatic Anglicans I’ve met. They don’t struck me as particularly Anglican. Charismatic, sure. But I’m not sure what they want besides a Vineyard church that baptizes babies and has communion more frequently. I’m not theoretically opposed to such a Vineyard church, but I would have a problem if they claimed to be Anglican.
I love the active, present ministry of the Holy Spirit. I believe there are many opportunities in the liturgy for prophetic, intercessory, and healing gifts to be at work.
There are places for the Gospel to be demonstrated in the power of the God.
The Holy Spirit doesn’t ask us to dismiss the liturgy. He was part of forming it through the ages.
Pentecostal worship at its best builds up the entire congregation as one body, not a bunch of happy Jesus people doing their own thing. Spirit-empowered gifts always submit to Spirit-appointed leadership.
In other words: I want to be Pentecostal. I want to be Anglican. Not one at the cost of the other. They are not mutually exclusive, and if we act like they are, we’re going to have a problem, folks.
The funny thing about the idea of forming a catholic Pentecostalism is that the opposition doesn’t just come from the established Christian traditions (Western/Eastern Catholic Orthodoxy, Reformed, Lutheran, Anglican, and Baptist), but also from the newcomers to the Christian streams (Pentecostals). I’ve been regarded with deep suspicion for this project by Pentecostals…and understandably, because we’ve had to be suspicious of people who want to bring “lively” people into their churches, but want to avoid the Pentecostal anointing.
This is a short answer, because it’s all that’s necessary: Pentecostalism was catholic from its origins. Originating as it did from numerous streams of the Church (in America: from Wesleyan, Holiness, and Baptist traditions; in Britain: from Calvinist Presbyterian, Methodist and Anglican traditions). Spreading, as it did in the Charismatic Renewal to many other parts of the Church (Roman Catholic, Lutheran and many others). The trajectory of Pentecostalism is catholic, and any other direction in Pentecostal churches is a house divided.
In the past week, I’ve had my heart broken several times. Not through anything said or done to me, but no one who experiences the love of God expressed in Jesus’ work on the cross can help but love the Church. And when the Church fails (she does), it hurts. This week I’ve seen people who will only baptize with a profession of faith suggest they can’t have a full partnership with those who baptize the children of believers. I’ve seen Calvinists say they can’t have full partnership with Arminians, Amyraldians, “modified Calvinists”, or Wesleyans. I’ve seen complementarians and egalitarians both say they can’t have full partnership with one another. And the worst thing is…none of those issues actually has to do with the Good News about Jesus. (more…)
Today marks the day many in the Church celebrate Pentecost. Ironically, most Pentecostals have never known their congregations to celebrate it. While there’s certainly no obligation to liturgical calendar (unless your tradition and custom expect it of you), it’s helpful for us to remember that day together with Christians around the world, not only in the present but in the ancient past. But it’s not just liturgical Christians that say that…or Pentecostals. (more…)