OK, I’ll admit it: my fling with the Anglican Church is getting pretty serious. Sure, she’s a screwed up girl: but, for starters, she’s breathtakingly gorgeous. She’s eloquent and well-read, and every time we meet I feel engaged at every level: physically, emotionally, intellectually, spiritually. She takes energy, sure, but the results are well worth it.
End romantic metaphor.
What I’m trying to say is that I’m slowly being seduced (the metaphor really works too well) by the power of Anglican liturgy. I’ve been going steady with St. Paul’s on Lower Queen Anne for about eight months now. It was Dr. Spina, one of my professors and an Anglican priest himself, who convinced me that a church service ought to be more like a dance than a performance. Every symbol, every ritual, every movement is infused with meaning and significance and history: something I can’t say about the kinds of churches I grew up in. Every time I go I find something new to chew on: the centrality of the Eucharist, the aroma of the incense, the themes of the text for the day.
What attracts me–and this is so typical for my personality–is that every part of the service (except, unfortunately, the sermons, lately anyway) has theological import. Just a couple of examples: when I walk in the door I see something like this:
It’s not a great image, but you see how the eye is drawn to the crucifix? That’s on purpose: you can tell by the way the dome arches over it, by the light coming from above Jesus, by the lines ascending towards the crucified Lord on either side. But having the crucified Christ as the focal point of the space is more than just aesthetically pleasing: it’s making a theological statement. It’s a visible reminder of the centrality of our Lord in Christian worship, and it’s something I can learn from. And what is right beneath the crucifix? The altar: the focus of the worship space is thus on the sacrifice of Christ. It is on this altar that the body of Christ is broken and the blood of Christ spilled out.
There’s so much more to this that I could get excited about but really you should just watch the video if you’re at all curious. This Anglican church in Florida somewhere is growing really quickly, apparently because a lot of young evangelicals (like, say, yours truly) are leaving evangelicalism in search of a deeper tradition. So their church is putting on seminars to teach people the basics of how liturgy works—why they do what they do. Very cool.
This Sunday is All Saint’s Day. I have no idea what that means, but I’m really excited.