Dress for Action like an Anglican

Dress for Action like an Anglican June 24, 2024
After many days of distracting suspense, the Anglican Church in North America (the US and Canada) selected a new Archbishop–Steve Woods. He is currently the bishop of the Carolinas, but by the end of the week, he will be functionally head of the Province. Sometime later in the year, he will be formally consecrated. As you have already expected, public and private online social spaces launched into their thoughts, feelings, and prayers with a frenzied fervor. Some places articulated doom and sadness. Others were euphoric. I fielded texts and kept watching Enchanted April–the family movie night choice when you have four daughters–which is a very Anglican kind of thing to do. But I, even I, think it is pretty epic that the lectionary organizers picked the lections we had yesterday. It began with Job:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:  “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?  Dress for action like a man; I will question you, and you make it known to me.  “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding. Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?  On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone,  when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?  “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb,  when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors,  and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’? “Have you commanded the morning since your days began, and caused the dawn to know its place, that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth, and the wicked be shaken out of it?  It is changed like clay under the seal, and its features stand out like a garment.  From the wicked their light is withheld, and their uplifted arm is broken. “Have you entered into the springs of the sea, or walked in the recesses of the deep?  Have the gates of death been revealed to you, or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?  Have you comprehended the expanse of the earth? Declare, if you know all this.
And ended with Jesus:
 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.”  And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him.  And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
I have been a Christian and an Anglican for roughly the same amount of time. I was baptized in the Diocese of Oxford as a tiny infant in a tiny church. At some point along the way, spending my childhood in Mali, I looked up into the vast, African sky, and understood that God was God, and I was a mere creature who would have to take the trouble to submit to wisdom, and knowledge, and understanding. In boarding school, where the religion was mostly Baptist, out of rebellion, I carried my Book of Common Prayer to church instead of a Bible. I read the 39 Articles when I found the sermon dull. In various sojourns in the US, I got to be Mary in the Christmas Pageant, attended the Bishop’s Ball, and was confirmed as an Episcopalian. In university, while the godless, pagan campus slept, I walked alone, in drifts of snow, uphill both ways, to the Episcopal chaplaincy. Which is to say, I am all in on the Anglican thing. Once, a long time ago, when it had become clear that the Episcopal Church had officially become apostate–a fact which, as an Anglican, grieved me immensely, for I am more than happy to live with ambiguity, nuance, and a measure of politesse masquerading as good theology–we finally and formally walked away, propitiously at just the moment when the Anglican Global South had weighed in. The Anglican Church of North America was formed. Though no one ever expected it–least of all me–the bravery and faithfulness of bishops, clerics, and lay people all converged with the providence of God to make a safe ecclesiastical haven. One awful thing about being an Anglican in the year of our Lord 2024 is that we had to read the entire book of Job right after Easter. Because we indulge in Zoom Morning Prayer–something that came about during Covid, the strange convergence of the Daily Office App, living in New York State, and intuitively understanding that where two or three are gathered, God himself shows up perhaps purely out of curiosity to see what kind of things Anglicans say at 7 am on a Monday about some Biblical text that lies so completely outside of the zeitgeist that their eyes continually fly open–we feel constantly at the mercy of the scriptures. We have to read them, because that’s the deal, before we can pray. The convergence of Job with Jesus is so unnerving. The impulse to sit in the ash heap, scraping one’s real and terrible wounds, wounds measured out and governed by God, is reasonable. What else is the believer supposed to do? To whom may we complain but the Lord? But how many of us expect that God will really come and speak? How can we endure the whirlwind? the kind of answer that is Jesus himself? Are you God? Do you know? Have you sustained the universe by your own power? Can you control the weather? Have you measured the dimensions of your life, your church, or even your own thoughts? Of course you can’t bear it. But, from the long weary road of habit, obedience, and sometimes even love, you get up in the gray dawn on the first day of the week, the day when your own Lord Jesus rose again from the grave, when he conquered death, when he revealed himself as the firstfruits of those who had fallen asleep, and you go to church. You stand there as the prayers go by, saying them, knowing them, feeling them. You kneel. You sit. You stand. You walk forward and put your hands out for the bread and the wine. In each movement of the body is the stooping of the soul before the whirlwind, the tempest, the immense and perfect majesty of God. Dress for action–for what will you do, O Anglican? O Christian? The Lord is in his Holy Temple. Let all the earth keep silent before him. Also, find me on Substack, and!! check out my interview with Alisa Childers!
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