I am two sessions away from the end of my tour of the 39 articles of the Anglican/Episcopal church, after which I will definitely be moving on. So what did I hear about this week? Well I’ll tell ya.
We started with article 34. It says that traditions used for church services may vary- presumably from time to time and place to place. This was meant to try and involve congregants in the service by making it more accessible. Other ways to achieve this were the translation of the Sunday service into the local language and the use of a prayer book people could follow along with. The article also serves to specify that doing things outside the scope of the bible are still ok, as long as the bible has not forbidden them. Apparently the puritans had this thing for doing stuff only specifically mentioned in the bible and avoiding everything else. Anglicans had this article to tell them not to get worked up about it. Father Egan said a good rule to remember is:
Scripture for salvation
Tradition for ceremonies
We also heard briefly about the difference between an Episcopal church with a “morning prayer” focus vs. a “Sunday morning” focus. A morning prayer church will do three services in the week and one communion per month on Sunday. Sunday morning churches make Sunday service their main thing and serve communion every week.
Article 35 is about the book of homilies. A bit of history concerning this article; the Church used to discourage studying the bible. In fact fewer people were literate anyhow. Because of these two factors, the burgeoning Anglican church had a shortage of scripture-smart priests. To assist them while they studied up, sermons were written out so priests had something to say during transition. These were the book of homilies 1 and 2.
Article 36 talks about how bishops are ordained- kinda. It states that the formula is in another book! As a sidebar to this we learned about the ceremony for a new queen in England. The church of England is still vaguely tied to the monarchy, so the church has to approve the queen- I’m sure it was important back in the day. Now it’s more a formality. So the queen will be attired in a simple cloth shift and she is annointed on the head and breast with oil.
Articles from a week ago:
I learned about excommunication! It really doesn’t happen often today. It would require a very public breach of church teaching by someone in a leadership position probably. Otherwise it wouldn’t really be necessary. Excommunication is meant as a way to force someone to realize they need to change their life. They ask forgiveness and gain reconciliation to be welcome into the church again. In most cases an actual excommunication would not happen because steps can be taken to solve the problem without outright asking someone to leave. That would be the goal anyway.