This was originally published as an introductory piece for a lengthy series on the 39 Articles of Religion. The series includes writers from the Anglican Church in North America and the Episcopal Church in a collaborative effort. You can find my original post here or click here to see the whole series (still being published daily at the time of this post) because it is very much worth your time!

Like many elements of Anglican theology and practice, the 39 Articles of Religion are often used as a means of division rather than having a unifying effect. You can divide Anglicans into any grouping you desire (i.e. High, Low, and Broad or 4 streams, or Anglo-Catholic, Reformed, Evangelical, and Classical etc. etc.) and you will find the 39 Articles at the core of each grouping. It is not that the Articles are a driving factor in the distinctives and charisms of a particular Anglican sub-set, but that one’s churchmanship often drives how one reads, interprets, and values the Articles.

Let the reader be warned from the outset: this blog series is not designed to value or highlight one reading over another. This is not a series for Anglo-Catholics, Reformation Anglicans, or cradle Episcopalians. This is a blog for anyone who is an Anglican Christian and is looking for a resource to accompany their reading of the ArticlesIn particular, this introductory post will not settle anything but rather seeks to provide a lens through which or a framework by which we read this historic document together.

One of my mentors in the earliest days of my ministry training, Bishop Fitzsimmons Allison, would often remark that, “Those who think the English Reformation was about King Henry’s marriage(s) deserve Henry.” I believe we should add to this statement that such people would also be deserving of Henry’s 6 Articles.

As with many elements within Anglican thought there is little to no agreement as to what the Articles are, what they mean, or why they matter. To quote the famous philosopher, Humpty Dumpty, words can mean anything we want them to as long as we “pay them enough.” Sadly, or perhaps confusingly, the language of the Articles has been paid a great price by every stripe and corner of the Anglican Communion and extant are a plethora of interpretations, applications, and meditations as to how they should function in our common life.

Though a tiresome analogy, the concept of Anglicanism as being a “big tent” is not entirely worn out and can be useful in the proper setting.  One can take shelter under the expansive covering inside the tent and feel at home. As Anglicans, we organize ourselves based on our reception of the prayer book, our understanding of ordination, our theological interpretation of the sacraments, our vestments, and so on and so forth. We treat the Articles as something by which we can organize once inside the tent and I believe this is where we get into trouble. We have expended and exerted such great energy in making sure that the tent is large and exhaustive, but we have done this to the detriment of making sure the tent is held up by sturdy posts and nailed down around the outside with stakes and markers.

If you will allow me to continue using the analogy here, my goal is to provide this significant blog series with the framework by which we can read the Articles together. This introductory post is not an attempt to settle the meaning of specific Articles once and for all, but rather to attempt to look through and beyond the varying camps of churchmanship in order to see the foundation underneath. Originally, I intended this essay to be a setting of the table for the other authors in the series but I now see that it is more of a fencing of the table (liturgical pun intended). At the end of the day, we may still disagree as to the importance of the Articles and what some of them may mean, but when we honestly read them together in their proper context, we are engaged in something that is building up the community of faith rather than tearing it down.

Context is everything. Many Anglicans get themselves into trouble when they begin ripping the Articles out of the historical context in which they were originally compiled and for which they were intentionally written. The same is true of biblical interpretation but we have no problem labeling such carelessness as “proof texting.” This ought to be applied universally when it comes to the Articles. Any interpretation of an individual article or the whole collection which does not pay attention to historical context is automatically starting from a place of deficiency and bias. The unique and precise historical situation which is the English Reformation, as seen through the lens of Cranmer’s liturgical revolution, the long-standing tradition of translating the Bible into English, and the need for the Elizabethan Settlement all provide the rich soil out of which our Articles grew.

We must treat the Articles as a contiguous collection, as a text which was written by a specific people, for a specific people, and during a specific historical, political, socio-economical, and theological context. Just as one cannot ignore Romans 9-11 while interpreting Paul’s letter to the church in Rome or neglect to pay adequate attention to the more “difficult” verses, passages, and books (has anyone read Job, Leviticus, or Ecclesiastes?!) of the Bible, so too must we take the Articles as a whole and not just the sum of its parts.

The language of the Articles can also provide an interpretive battle ground. We find ourselves caught up in asking questions such as, “But what does it mean when the Reformers used the word ‘transubstantiation?’” or making comments about “what they really meant to say was…” No text is without interpretation, but we find ourselves on faulty ground when we ignore the literal, grammatical meaning of the document in an attempt to “pay” it enough to make it say what we want it to say.

For those of us today who are worshipping in the Anglican tradition around the globe, the 39 Articles provide the boundaries within which we find ourselves existing ecclesially. The tent is held up by those truths which we cannot ignore, the commitments we have made as Anglican Christians for centuries. We are held up by Scripture, Prayer Book, Creed, historic episcopate (locally adapted), sacraments. There can be no argument here. The tent is staked to the ground (Cranmerian pun intended) by the Articles because together as one cohesive and comprehensive unit do they provide the boundaries and fencing we so desperately need.

What then do the Articles provide for us? With the understanding that they are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive, one can see that the Articles provide the rules for our own language game, the building blocks for our distinct way of doing theology, and the stakes which hold down the tent. Perhaps our attention would be better spent figuring out what it means to wrestle with the issues and questions of our present day along the same lines as the Reformers of the 16th century instead of arguing about what the Reformers actually meant as we seek to parse out Rome, Canterbury, Geneva, and Wittenberg.

The 1979 Book of Common Prayer includes the Articles within the section “Historical Documents” sandwiched between the Athanasian Creed and Preface to the First BCP on one side and the Lambeth Quadrilateral on the other. Do we find this to be a coincidence? The Creed and Preface are foundational to our belief and the Quadrilateral is a measuring tool for ecumenical relationships…and the Articles float betwixt the two. That they are included in the BCP at all suggests they are important for our common life and worship; that they are included in the “Historical Documents” section implies that they are a historical hook upon which we can hang our hats; that they are next to the Quadrilateral could be seen as an attempt to use the Articles as a means of differentiating ourselves from other Christian traditions. Is this not in fact the very situation the Reformers were in? Were they not trying to differentiate the Church of England, the ecclesia Anglicana, from the Church of Rome and the reformations on the continent? You would be hard pressed to argue otherwise.

There is more, much more, to be said on many of these important issues but the Reformers have helped us by providing a standard against which we cannot nor should not seek to wander. The questions asked and answered in this blog series have a great deal to do with living and applying the Articles within a 21st century, North American Anglican context and exploring what they may mean for our common life together. Join us on this journey as we read together, setting aside biases of churchmanship and school theology, and allow yourself to ponder answer the pressing questions of today as read and examine through the guiding framework of the Articles.

The tent is as big and as expansive as ever, friends, but it is not limitless. We have boundaries, stakes if you will, which outline the tent as if saying, “You may go no further.” There is freedom within fences, as the adage goes, and plenty of room to run and play, but the markers are always and only meant to protect, guide, and ensure the passing along of tradition as we have received it. Do not cast the Articles aside as irrelevant because that is lazy; do not make them into more than they are because that is proof texting; do not continue the arguments over language and theological minutiae because that only isolates within the community. Let them be what they are: a theological response to distinct controversy and unique division within a historical context…and a model by which we can continue living as Anglican Christians in the world today.

This is a sonnet I penned for the Writer’s Guild at our church. The prompt was “Rite of Passage” and my mind immediately turned toward baptism. Enjoy! It was originally published here on my old blog, “The Liturgical Theologian.”

Rite of Passage: A Sonnet

A journey through water and into lightThe response of faith to the beckoning call

A night brighter than any day or night

The riteful passage offered one and all

Death and life, descent and ascent

The grace of our Lord ne’er will relent

Draw near the font, feel the water cover you

Into the triune name you are now placed

The glory of the Lord shines around you

A joy so palpable you can almost taste

As you’re washed by his love, grace may astound you

Come sinner, come beggar, make haste

It’s a rite of passage, a loving initiation

New birth, new life, beloved, new creation

This piece was first published on my previous blog, “The Liturgical Theologian,” on July 12, 2017 and can be found here.

Perhaps it’s just me and my upbringing in northern Virginia, but I can distinctly remember thinking the local our Catholic parish was weird because when I received communion there is was always and only a wafer. No wine. Anyone else with me? A few confessions are in order here: first, by “my upbringing” I simply refer to the fact that I was part of a fairly low Episcopal Church and had no personal real commitment to Anglican worship, polity, or anything during my youth. Second, I definitely received communion at a local Catholic parish despite being a baptized Episcopalian. Third, I only attended Saturday evening mass at St. James because I played on a successful, travel soccer team and we often had games on Sunday mornings. Arrest me, I know (alas, perhaps another post for another time).

Seriously though, I often thought to myself growing up—and can unfortunately remember numerous conversations attempting to proselytize others—that the Catholics were both weird and wrong for withholding wine from the Faithful. And the current articles/essays/blog pieces going around about the Vatican saying “no” to Gluten-free bread creates the potential for a seemingly interesting “one kind” situation for those with Gluten intolerance. You can read Sarah Pulliam Bailey here and Emma Winters hereon the issue for further information (hint: they both dispel the idea that low Gluten wafers are bad for those with an intolerance).

Fast forward twenty years: I am now an Anglican priest, PhD student in liturgical theology, and I haven’t had communion in both kinds in over 16 months. Why? Because I’m an alcoholic.

Before we go off the deep end here, please read my words clearly: I am not suggesting that all alcoholics in recovery must abstain from partaking the blood of Christ every Sunday. That is way above my pay grade and none of my business. I am also similarly aware that the Vatican has approved the use of mustum (grape juice with less than 1% alcohol content) for use during Holy Eucharist.

That said, being one who partakes of only the bread for 16 months has caused me to reflect on my childhood naiveté and more recent experiences.

You would assume that I would be the first person to insist upon having wine at Eucharist. And no, not because I’m an alcoholic, despite that being the obvious logic! You would make that assumption because my doctoral research is devoted to liturgical theology and what happens in worship, particularly sacramental worship. As I priest I regularly administer the bread and wine, the Body and Blood, to the faithful. Wouldn’t I—nay, shouldn’t I—partake as well?

Here’s what I’ve learned…

  1. I am not receiving a lesser Sacrament or being robbed of a sacramental experience. My involvement in the Eucharist is the same as it always has been: active, prayerful, grateful, expectant. I’m not missing out on anything by virtue of having only one element instead of two. There is no noticeable shift in my own awareness and no less grace conferred, either.
  2. The Eucharist, for me, has become more about the giving of thanks rather than the reception or partaking of elements. I have much to be thankful for in my life: an incredibly supportive and loving wife, three amazing children, a business, a PhD program, my sobriety…the list goes on and on. I have the opportunity to give thanks to my Heavenly Father during the Eucharist for this and for so much more. The point of the Eucharist, first and foremost, is for the church to gather for the source and summit of her worship by giving thanks, directing the praise of creation back to Creator, and self-offering before the Lord. Have we lost sight of this in our post-Reformation debates upon substance, change, and consecration?
  3. The significance of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is not a matter of elemental change or discovering the moment of consecration. My awareness of Christ’s presence, or at least my openness to his activity and agency in worship has changed. Christ is present in the Eucharist, with his people, in the act of thanksgiving, in the offering of praise and prayer, and in the breaking of bread. Jesus is not somehow absent to me and more fully present to another because I no longer drink from the chalice or intinct my bread. The Eucharist is a whole service, not just one part of something larger. In the prayers of God’s people, in the reading of Scripture, in the sermon, and in Communion, Christ is present. My job is to encounter him there and not to locate him solely in bread or wine.

The focus on Eucharist in one kind or in two shifts radically the meaning of the Eucharist from what it should be. I’m not arguing for an anything goes mentality when it comes to sacramental worship, far from it! I’m advocating for a deeper, more robust, thicker sacramental experience and encounter. I’m learning on a Sunday by Sunday basis, and one day at a time, that Jesus beckons me—and all of us—to his table not simply for bread and wine or Body and Blood but for participation in the wedding feast, joining the Eschatological banquet table in a foretaste, participating in the self-giving, overflowing love of the Trinity.

My appreciation for the Eucharist—and I daresay my understanding—has grown significantly in the last 16 months. It feels as though things have been put into sharper perspective by virtue of opting out of the wine and that primary issues have once again become primary (and therefore secondary issues have returned to being secondary). I’m sure that I’ll have more to say on the subject as I am further changed by the liturgy and my lengthening time in recovery, but at this point I can say that it is “right to give him thanks and praise.”

“Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.”[1]

You May Also Enjoy: On Being an Alcoholic and Liturgical Muggles and Losing the Sacramental Imagination

[1] Taken from the 1979 BCP, Rite II.

(From left:) Christ’s ascent to heaven is depicted in a stained-glass window at 1) St. Clotilde Church in Chicago (Catholic News Service photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World); 2) St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y (Catholic News Service photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic); 3) St. Mary’s Basilica in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Catholic News Service photo/Crosiers)
(From left:) Christ’s ascent to heaven is depicted in a stained-glass window at 1) St. Clotilde Church in Chicago (Catholic News Service photo/Karen Callaway, Catholic New World); 2) St. Therese of Lisieux Church in Montauk, N.Y (Catholic News Service photo/Gregory A. Shemitz, Long Island Catholic); 3) St. Mary’s Basilica in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Catholic News Service photo/Crosiers)

This post was originally published on the blog for Church of the Apostles, Kansas City.

Today the Church celebrates Ascension Day. The readings for the day are Psalm 47 (or Psalm 93), Acts 1:1-22, Ephesians 1:15-23, and Luke 24:44-53. 

The Collect: Almighty God, whose blessed Son our Savior Jesus Christ ascended far above all heavens that he might fill all things: Mercifully give us faith to perceive that, according to his promise, he abides with his Church on earth, even to the end of the ages; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, in glory everlasting. Amen.

Our family spent the majority of this recent three-day weekend working on jigsaw puzzles. Yes, you heard me right…puzzles: because what would a family with three young boys, two cats, and an overly clumsy/messy father want more than 2,000 tiny little puzzle pieces?! The first puzzle was a whimsical landscape of book covers called “Bedtime Stories,” and our current project is a slightly more involved effort featuring the cover of an edition of The New Yorker. The thrill of finding the corners, then searching for the edges, and then beginning the slow and rewarding work of filling in the center is pretty indescribable…or utterly frustrating, bordering along the lines of existential crisis if things go poorly. I might be a little dramatic about my love of puzzles, but let’s be honest for a minute: The Ascension is one of those theological puzzle pieces which we have a hard time placing. (Bet you didn’t see that transition coming.)

Theologians and biblical scholars have squabbled over the nature of the Ascension; i.e. if heaven isn’t a physical place “above” us then where did Jesus go? Did He really ascend? Did He end up in outer space? You can see how this might become overly taxing. To keep with the analogy, one might say that theologians have disagreed as to whether or not the Ascension is a corner piece (essential to theology), an edge (significant though not necessarily as foundational as a corner), or a center piece (you need it for the overall puzzle but it gets lost in the shuffle).

Instead of arguing about the physics behind Jesus’ Ascension, I think we would be better served to ask two questions: What does it mean, and why does it matter?

We are flooded with follow up questions in our search for understanding: Is the Ascension simply the “ritual act” performed to get Jesus from earth to heaven? Is the only meaning for this day found in the fact that it happens ten days before Pentecost? Or does the meaning stem from the giving of the Great Commission?

At the core, the Ascension is about authority and power.

We would be right in highlighting Jesus’ statement to the disciples that they should wait in the city until “clothed with power from on high.” This is clearly a foretelling of Pentecost and Spirit-power. We would also be correct in mentioning Jesus’ statement that “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me…” and that it is this clause which grounds the Great Commission. However, we do not go far enough if this is our only discussion of power and authority.

The primary focus of these Ascension stories is not the power which is soon to come to the disciples, but the fact that Jesus has all power in heaven and on earth and that He is ascending to the right hand of the Father from whence He will rule over all things. In fact, He is ruling over all things. Now. Here in the present tense. This is why Paul can write to the church in Colossae and say:

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

The disciples were witnesses to the Ascension and after worshipping Jesus—something reserved only for God—they bore witness to His power and authority through the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit. The power which clothed them on high was none other than the power and authority of Jesus. After the Resurrection, Jesus told His disciples that He was giving them His peace, now He has given His authority as well. The disciples were to baptize, teach, proclaim, drive out demons, heal the sick, and profess the faith of Christ crucified, risen, and exalted.

We miss this point when we get lost in the minutiae of the puzzle as we seek to put yet another random piece next to another. We need to zoom out, as it were, and look at the puzzle box to the see the whole picture. Seen in proper context, the Ascension is the culmination of Incarnation, Crucifixion, and Resurrection. The power of God, His majestic and cosmic authority, is portrayed most fully and tangibly through the person of Jesus. We celebrate the Ascension because we celebrate this power, Jesus’ reign and rule over all things. We are lovingly and graciously beckoned to participate as co-regents, co-rulers of the Kingdom; the meaning of Ascension, however, is not about what we get but who Jesus is.

Reflect on this as you proclaim your faith through the words of the Nicene Creed. As you say, “he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end…” Jesus high and lifted up, seated upon the throne, ruling over all things, reigning over all that is seen and unseen, that is Ascension. That is our feast. He is seated upon the throne having been exalted there by the Father and it is from there that He rules over all.

This sermon was preached on Palm Sunday, 2019 at Church of the Apostles, Kansas City. The audio recording can be found here.

I think we all need to recover after that long reading! I’ll go ahead and open us with a prayer and you can allow your legs and mind to rest for a moment 😉

The Sunday before Easter is a bit of an anomaly. It is like the Sunday that could not make up its mind: Palms or Passion, Palms or Passion, Palms or Passion…at some point there was a gathering and it was decided that instead of picking one or the other, we would do both.

We are covering the whole of the Passion from a big picture, 40,000 foot perspective today and then we will begin focusing in ever more closely during the coming week. Palm Sunday was used for centuries as the day during which churchgoers would hear the whole story of Holy Week other than the story of Easter. Why? Because getting people to church on a Thursday and Friday between two Sundays isn’t the easiest accomplishment…but I’m sure we don’t know anything about that! Palm Sunday became the one day when people could hear the full story of Holy Week, when they would be taught what happened on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday. Put it like this…let us assume that this is your first time in church. And let us also assume that you won’t be back until next Sunday…this assumption is only for this sermon, by the way, you are utterly and absolutely expected to be here Thursday and Friday…well then, if I kept my sermon only to the liturgy of the palms and the Triumphal Entry so that Thursday and Friday could be stand alone texts…then you would hear about Jesus entering the city on Sunday and the following Sunday you would hear about how he rose from the dead…are you following me? You might be a bit confused on Easter!!

So, I don’t want to focus my time on the intricacies of the Last Supper institution, though I could go on and on, nor do I want to add anything to the crucifixion scene—I’ll leave those two texts to these two preachers!—instead, I want to show you how Kingdom permeates the entire Passion narrative. We are not left with a choice between Kingdom and King on one hand and Palms and donkey on the other as if the two are mutually exclusive, as if we have to pick between Palms and Passion. The One who rides into the city amidst cries of Hosanna and palms on one Sunday is the same One who is exalted and enthroned upon the cross on that Friday. Let us begin.

For many Christians in the world, the Saturday before Palm Sunday is known as Lazarus Saturday. We heard from Ellis last Sunday about the scene at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with perfume. This took place in John 12 and then the story moves forward in John’s gospel to the chief priests plotting to kill Jesus AND Lazarus because it was his fault that Jews were deserting, and then the story moves to the Triumphant Entry and to the Last Supper in Jerusalem. The Gospels all place Jesus in Bethany before the Triumphal Entry. The Orthodox have a unique perspective leading into Palm Sunday and it is one that I think needs a great deal of reflection on our part. The Saturday before Palm Sunday is known as “Lazarus Saturday” in the Orthodox tradition. Why? Well, we may have read John 12 last Sunday, but what story immediately precedes the scene at Lazarus’ house? Yes, you’ve done well! It is the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The Orthodox celebrate this miracle on the day before Palm Sunday because it creates a fantastic backdrop for the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem and ultimately what will happen on Friday and Sunday. Think about it with me for a second: Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead and proclaims “I am the resurrection and the life.” He then shares a meal at their home and is prepared for burial by Mary. Then, and only then, does Jesus enter Jerusalem as a triumphant king…what exactly has he triumphed over?

We spend a lot of time in the church talking about how Jesus’ entry is one of a humble king, riding on a colt rather than a war horse. It was the people who placed their hopes for a king of a militaristic and political nature upon Jesus, ascribing to him the value and worth that they would for a conqueror. We then admit that Jesus wasn’t doing what they thought he was…or was he? Have we so missed the forest for the trees with our relentless theological nitpicking that we lose sight of the fact that Jesus was in fact entering the city as a conquering king?

In our attempts to highlight Jesus’ humility, even using the passage from Philippians 2 as support, we have poked so many holes in the triumphal entry text that it will no longer hold water. We have placed so many cuts along the support beams that the text can no longer bear the weight it was meant to.

John’s account of the triumphal entry includes what feels like a random verse from the Old Testament. John writes, “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion. Look, your king is coming, sitting on a donkey’s colt!” We emphasize the donkey and minimalize the coming king. Here is the context for the verse: Zechariah 9 in which the prophet prophesies about the end of Israel’s oppressors, about their downfall and destruction, and about the God who is watching over his people and who will enter the city in triumph to the cries of the people. Here is the passage in full:

Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!

    Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!

See, your king comes to you,

    righteous and victorious,

lowly and riding on a donkey,

    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

10 I will take away the chariots from Ephraim

    and the warhorses from Jerusalem,

    and the battle bow will be broken.

He will proclaim peace to the nations.

    His rule will extend from sea to sea

    and from the River to the ends of the earth.

11 As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you,

    I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.

12 Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope;

    even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you.

13 I will bend Judah as I bend my bow

    and fill it with Ephraim.

I will rouse your sons, Zion,

   against your sons, Greece,

and make you like a warrior’s sword.

The King has come. The kingdom is coming. The entry on a donkey is in juxtaposition to the chariots and warhorses that Caesar or another demigod may use, but the coming King is still triumphant, still victorious. “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious…”

The triumphal entry did not happen in a vacuum. It was not an accident. Everyone gathered together would have seen the meaning before them plain and simple. I would like to experiment with this idea and I need your full attention and effort. I will start saying a well known phrase and I want you to finish it for me. For example, if I were to say, “Give me a break, give me a break” you would say “break me off a piece of that kit kat bar.” Bonus points for those who said, “Fancy feast.” Ready?

The Lord be with you : and also with you

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith: Christ has died, Chris is risen, Christ will come again

Ok, those were the easy ones because they have a natural response. Here are a few others:

Here’s looking at you kid.

Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom!

There is meaning to these phrases well beyond the actual text. You know them because you have a context for them, they do something to you, they take you somewhere. For a moment there, even the most fleeting of moments, were you not on an airstrip in Morocco, or a bench waiting the hope on the bus, or even in the Scottish highlands many centuries ago? I won’t belabor the point much longer, but we are able to go to those places because we have been there, we know them, we have them ingrained in our memory, etched on our hearts…and now we have the triumphal entry.

This is a key to the whole text because even though we end up at the foot of the cross or outside of the Garden Tomb with Joseph of Arimathea, the whole liturgy is framed around Triumphal Entry and the Coming King. The star of the show, as it were, is this verse in Luke’s gospek which has been borrowed from Psalm 118. Surely you heard it twice today during the liturgy of the Palms and your mind went straight to the Sanctus during the Eucharist. You have a context for this theological concept: holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might. Heaven and earth are full of your glory, hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, hosanna in the highest.

Hosanna means “save us.” The people lining the street to Jerusalem were singing the praises of YHWH and crying out to him that he save them, that he rescue them, that he deliver them. They did this and then anointed the “King who comes in the name of the Lord.” You heard the majority of the Psalm read this morning: it is a Psalm of praise and victory. The LORD heard the cry of his people and his mighty hand has delivered them! The use of Psalm 118:26 here suggests to us that the whole Psalm would have been used by the people against the backdrop of Israel’s long history with YHWH. This crowd may have cried “crucify!” just days later, they may have expected Jesus to overthrow Pilate and Caesar in explicit fashion, but they got one thing right: the King was entering the city in righteous victory and they, the crowd, were in desperate need of salvation and rescue…

We’ve spent the overwhelming majority of our time this morning going through the passages from the Liturgy of the Palms because honeslty the rest doesn’t make sense without it. Jesus as the true King, as the one coming in the name of the LORD, as the one entering in triumph, this is what helps us to understand the passion more fully. It was never about human thrones and powers, it was always about triumph over evil and death. The One who resurrected Lazarus comes to Jerusalem in faithful obedience to the covenant to allow humanity to expend its evil upon him and to resurrect from the dead.

Jesus has been traveling toward Jerusalem with his face set like flint ever since he descended Mt. Tabor after the Transfiguration. As Cynthia reminded us, he walked slowly through the crowds en route to his destination, but he was always on his way to palms and passion, cross and tomb, death and life. He enters the city after demonstrating his power over death only to be met by the full embodiment of human evil and execution: the Roman cross. He rides into the city that is the center of Israel’s religious life, the city on a hill that was see as the meeting place of heaven and earth, the city that would have been the logical site of a restored Israel…and he does so only to leave the city a few days later under the burden of a wooden cross and a crown of thorns…

Humanity exhausts its evil upon the Son of God.

The powers and principalities of the world snuff out the light of rebellion.

Satan claims victory over the God with whom he thought equality could be grasped.

And friends, there isn’t any relief from this predicament. We don’t get to move beyond the text and see resurrection here. We don’t get to see the story fulfilled and completed. As we journey through the texts today and through the next 6 days we are left with this unhappy and uneasy feeling of “but what happens next?”

We have to do some work today to hold firmly in our hearts and minds that which Israel had never forgotten: YHWH was covenant maker and covenant keeper and he would redeem his people. This is what Lazarus helps us to see: the God who raised Lazarus from the tomb is the same God who made the valley of dry bones walk and is the same God who will raise Jesus from the dead. The story of Lazarus is a kingdom story. It is triumphant. It is victorious. It is the beginning of the reversal and renewal of all things and it is (one of) the reason that Jesus can enter the city hearing, “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!”

Friends, here is what I ask of you today:

As you look upon the King entering the city, say…

As you look upon the Lord sharing a meal with his friends and followers…

As you witness the beating and scouring of the King of the Jews…

As you gaze up at the King who is enthroned upon the cross…

As you enter into Holy Week and travel toward Easter…

Perhaps we can make it more personal: Jesus entered the city of Jerusalem, a city over which he would weep, and he does so in triumph as the one who raises the dead to life. What parts of your life need raising? What areas of your heart need the triumphal entry of Jesus? What gates and doors in your hearts, minds, emotions, imaginations, or dreams need to be flung open to allow the King of kings and the Lord of lords to enter? Or, if we can move out just a moment: what parts of our city, our offices, our state, our nation, our world, need to be opened up to the entry of Jesus?

This is not religious speak! This is real, friends. He comes to you in the same way he came to Jerusalem…amidst the praises of the people, enthroned by the cries of “salvation” and royal welcome…he comes to you to lead you through Passiontide, to guide you through Holy Week, to bring you to share in his meal, kneel at his cross, wait by his tomb, and proclaim “Alleluia” once more next Sunday…will you join?

This post was first published on February 6, 2019 for Church of the Apostles Anglican, Kansas City. 

Our most powerful memories are often tied to our senses and the way we experience the world. We can usually remember the first time we read a certain book or listened to a new album because of the feelings they evoked in us; we can smell the brand-new pages or remember the weather outside because the memory is made all the more tangible by these seemingly insignificant factors.

A meal can have the same effect. Associations form in the brain as we experience particularly enjoyable or upsetting events, and those associations can include the taste and smell of food, sounds, and sights. Often, we remember a place rather than the meal itself; for instance, Rebecca and I spent a weekend in San Francisco before Jet was born for a “babymoon.” We ate our way through the Golden Gate City having some of the best food ever…and I could hardly tell you what we ate. I could tell you the restaurants we visited and the delightful memories we created strolling through San Francisco and talking excitedly about becoming parents, but the food plays only a bit role in this story.

There are other times, however, when the food is the vehicle by which we make and enter our memories. We are able to conjure up feelings of profound love and happiness as we remember someone while eating. Have you ever wondered why we call it “comfort food?” Sure, a bowl of hot, creamy soup might bring comfort to your heart and stomach, but that’s not the point. At least, I think we are missing the fullness of the picture here. The food is comforting because it reminds us of someone, something, some time, or some place that we miss, want, or desperately need to remember.

My dad has an interesting dish that was a mainstay in my house growing up. I want to prepare you for the culinary sophistication oozing off of its name: Hotdog-on-bread-cheese-on-hotdog. Yes, that’s right: a piece of bread with a hotdog sliced on top and with cheese melted over everything. This meal, of course, could only be properly concocted in the miracle that is the toaster oven. Don’t knock it until you try it, friends.

I have not eaten one of these delicacies in many, many years. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had one, but I can tell you that even the mere thought of eating a hotdog-on-bread-cheese-on-hotdog floods my heart and mind in a very real way with warm and tender memories…as though I am eating with my dad presently.

So, imagine with me the scene as the disciples walked along the road to Emmaus after the crucifixion of Jesus in Jerusalem. The pair is joined by a stranger who begins asking about current events, and they are surprised because the pain is all too real, all too fresh.

Have you not heard about the execution in Jerusalem? We thought he would restore Israel…

The stranger then begins to unlock the Scriptures for them, explaining God’s active plan and the fulfillment reached in the crucifixion, but they still don’t see that Jesus is the one present. Our Lord then breaks bread, just as He had during the Last Supper, and immediately they see Him for who He truly is: their Rabbi, their leader, their master, their Lord.

It wasn’t the breaking open of Scripture that gave the disciples understanding; it was the sharing of this holy meal. Jesus told the disciples at the Last Supper that He was leaving but would send the Spirit to them – that He would not leave them as orphans. The Spirit would come to comfort, guide, and lead them in all truth, and the disciples would be in Jesus just as he is in the Father. The meal Jesus shared with His followers on that fateful night would be forever etched in their memory—both bodily and mentally—because the events which took place after they got up from the table irrevocably shaped their lives.

What is the Eucharist if not the joyous celebration of Jesus’ presence with us? We often hear talk about how Jesus is present in the bread and wine, but we rarely embrace and celebrate that he is present. It is his presence that carries meaning for us and not the method. If Jesus is present in the bread and wine, in the celebration of the meal, then He is present with us in our very lives. We have a weekly reminder that Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, that He comes to us even in the most mundane things and fills us with His peace and love.

Indulge me for one technical moment: there is a word in sacramental theology that bears great meaning: anamnesis. This is a form of remembering that is active, dangerous, volatile. It is a form of memory that does not merely rest in the past, but drags past events forward and makes them present in the here and now. It is what Israel knew as she celebrated (and still celebrates) Passover annually. It is what we know when we celebrate Eucharist on Sunday. Somehow, in some mysterious but real way, the events of Jesus’ incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection come charging into our present. “Does this in remembrance of me,” he said.

I will probably make a hotdog-on-bread-cheese-on-hotdog sometime soon. When I do this, it will be to celebrate the memories I have of eating that meal with my dad as a young boy. I will probably share that meal with Rebecca and my boys in the knowledge that passing it down to them is a way of inviting them into that loving tradition. Jesus shared a meal with His friends, and for the Church, this meal is the pinnacle of our corporate worship: we gather together as the church to remember Jesus and share in His presence through praise, Scripture, sermon, prayer, and the bread broken and the wine poured. This is why we celebrate Eucharist; this is why we need Eucharist as part of our Rule of Life; this is why our shared memories shape us as a people of bread and wine and a people who know Jesus’ real presence…even when we can’t see him.

This post was first published on January 23, 2019 for Church of the Apostles Anglican, Kansas City. 

On January 25th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The readings for the day are Psalm 67, Acts 26:9-21, Galatians 1:11-24, and Matthew 10:16-22. Below is a blog post written by The Rev. Porter Taylor about the feast day.

The Collect: O God, by the preaching of your apostle Paul you have caused the light of the Gospel to shine throughout the world: Grant, we pray, that we, having his wonderful conversion in remembrance, may show ourselves thankful to you by following his holy teaching; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

In the list of prominent New Testament figures, Paul surely occupies one of the top spots after Jesus and Mary, the mother God. He is known for his conversion on the road to Damascus, for his missionary travels, for his time spent in prison, and for his prolific writing. He is referred to as “the Apostle Paul,” “St. Paul,” or “Paul, Apostle of the Crucified Lord,” but what does this all really mean?

Today we celebrate the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul the Apostle. The lessons understandably center on Saul’s conversion while traveling to Damascus as part of his ongoing efforts to persecute Christians but they do so from the perspective of Paul at the end of his ministry. Saul, as you’ll recall, was a Pharisee, a Pharisee of Pharisees (Acts 23) and a Jew of Jews. We first encounter him in Acts 7 as he stands watch over the stoning of Stephen. Next, we hear of Saul’s persecution of the church: he was ruthless and intense, even to the point of going to the High Priest and requesting letters (i.e. authority) stating that he could imprison all members of The Way and bring them to Jerusalem.

And so it happened, one day, as Saul was traveling to Damascus…

Saul meets Jesus on the road. In a blinding light—but truly an eye-opening encounter—Saul hears the voice of the Crucified and Risen Lord asking him, “Why do you persecute me?” This is the moment that changes Saul’s life forever. Years later, before King Agrippa, Paul recounts this event and outlines how everything he has done since that encounter with Jesus was in obedience to the Gospel. He preached in Damascus, Jerusalem, Judea, and then to all Gentiles. The Gospel spread like wildfire because the Holy Spirit anointed and empowered men and women like Paul to take their stories public and draw others to Jesus.

Conversion is always a two-part movement: you must be converted from something and you must be converted to something. Saul is converted from his persecution of Jesus and his followers, and Saul is converted to the Gospel of Jesus, the Good News of YHWH in Christ. Saul is blind for three days but is healed, anointed, baptized, and then begins preaching to the ends of the earth.

Paul begins his letter to the Galatians by establishing his authority to preach: this authority is grounded first and foremost in a revelation of Jesus (read: road to Damascus) and second in his time spent in Jerusalem with Peter and the other apostles. Paul is telling the Galatians, “You can trust me and what I say!” Remember, Paul was formerly Saul, and his reputation was well-known and well-earned. Many in the early centuries of the church were preaching their own gospel rather than Christ crucified; Paul points to his encounter with Jesus and his time with the apostles to help the Galatians know that he was preaching the true gospel. Perhaps we should point to Jesus rather than ourselves in our own lives…

Paul is tangible proof that God’s faithfulness to this covenant promises with Israel extends fully to the Gentiles as well. Put another way, in Paul we see that through Israel the whole world will be blessed just as YHWH promised Abraham way back in Genesis. God’s faithfulness has always been to a specific people but also through a specific people unto all of creation. This is what Psalm 67 is trying to show us: all the peoples of the world will know of God’s goodness because that has always been the plan. The people of God are a people of blessing through whom the world is blessed and brought into the family.

We are sent out ones as well, friends. Our own stories of conversion may not be recorded in Scripture with such specificity and wonder as Saul-now-Paul, but I promise you that your story can be found within The Story. We have been called from our old lives and called to Jesus. Our faith is grounded in our encounter with God, our reception of apostolic faith from those who have gone before us, and it is worked out most concretely in service to and on behalf of the world. Giving our faith away to others is at the same time both an act of pure generosity and a profound way of strengthening what we believe.

The celebration of Paul’s conversion today is an invitation to remember our personal conversion to God and His kingdom and an urgent call to do as Paul did: remain obedient to the Gospel and proclaim it to the ends of the earth. Freely have we been given, and so freely should we give to the world God created and for whom He is in the business of restoration, reconciliation, and redemption.

This post was first published on January 16, 2019 for Church of the Apostles Anglican, Kansas City.

On January 18th, the Church celebrates the Feast of the Confession of St. Peter. The readings for the day are Psalm 23, Acts 4: 8-13, 1 Peter 5:1-4, and Matthew 16:13-19. Below is a blog post written by The Rev. Porter Taylor about the feast day.

The Collect: Almighty Father, who inspired Simon Peter, first among the apostles, to confess Jesus as Messiah and Son of the living God: Keep your Church steadfast upon the rock of this faith, so that in unity and peace we may proclaim the one truth and follow the one Lord, our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

“But who do you say that I am?”

Jesus and his followers had traveled across the Sea of Galilee (again) and travelled some 30 miles north to a city that was home to both Roman and Greek places of worship. The first question Jesus asks regards who the people think He is. The answers are flattering, “Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets,” but they are wholly incomplete. This list represents significant figures in Israel’s history, but they are only those who pointed to YHWH and His coming kingdom.

Jesus presses in a little further by making it personal. Who do you say that I am? This question comes on the heels of miracles (feeding the 5,000 and the 4,000), divine healings, and the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples have witnessed firsthand that what Jesus is doing something significant, and Peter’s answer is proof that Jesus is far more than a prophet or forerunner. Jesus is the one who has been prophesied, He is the Kingdom come, He is the Messiah for whom Israel has long been waiting.

Within the context of Matthew’s Gospel then, this story represents a significant shift in the narrative: Jesus’ Galilean ministry seems to draw to a close and His movement toward Jerusalem—and ultimately the Cross—begins to move forward without pause. In fact, it is just a few verses later in the chapter that Jesus tells the disciples that He will be killed and raised again only to be rebuked by Peter! Matthew is giving us a hint, I believe, that Jesus’ identity as “Christ, Son of the Living God,” is directly and irrevocably tied to His crucifixion.

The poetic beauty, if we may call it that, in this whole story is that the revelation of Jesus as Christ, and His statement that the “Gates of Hades shall not prevail” against His Church, takes place in the city where the Romans and Greeks believed the gates of hell to be located. The Cave of Pan was situated in Caesarea Philippi, and within the cave was a bottomless water source believed to be the gates of Hades. Jesus’ statements take on whole new meaning when read in this light: outside of a temple of worship dedicated to a god of the underworld, outside of the cave believed to be the gates of hell, Jesus announces that the church built upon the rock of Peter’s confession shall never be prevailed against. This is not some vague or random spiritual abstraction by Jesus but is a pointed, intentional, and bold claim against all Roman and Greek theological beliefs.

Peter’s ministry is forever shaped by this interaction, as is the course of Church history. The lessons from Acts and 1 Peter assigned for the day demonstrate that Peter continued to boldly proclaim the Gospel of God in Christ and to build up the church. Peter’s example to us is certainly one of bold faith and Gospel proclamation, but even more than that, he shows us Jesus is the source and content of our faith and gospel. It may seem too simple an idea for such a significant day in the church, but the Confession of Saint Peter should point us first and foremost to Jesus. Before we can talk about unity or caring for the flock, we must first see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God, the Cornerstone, and the source of salvation for all.

The rock of our faith is not the Cave of Pan or the mountain at whose feet Caesarea Philippi is settled, nor is the person of Peter. The rock of our faith is the confession of Jesus as Messiah…everything else in our faith is built upon this one foundation. Peter’s exhortation to the church in the epistle makes sense as the outflow of this truth: tend the flock. Jesus’ reinstatement of Peter after his triplet of denials is full of sheep and shepherd imagery: feed my lambs, take care of my sheep, feed my sheep. Peter’s role within the church, his faith as lived out amongst Jews and Gentiles, flows from his understanding of Jesus as Messiah and shepherd. Our faith must do the same!

Peter urged the church to shepherd the flock, just as he was shepherding the flock, until the day when the True Shepherd of Israel returns. When Jesus is the Christ, we are but stewards of His people, caretakers of His church, and Gospel-messengers in His world. Our unity as Church of the Apostles and as part of the one holy catholic and apostolic church is nothing more or less than Jesus.

Who do you say that Jesus is? The question is posed to each of us, both individually and corporately, just as Jesus turned and asked His disciples while walking through Caesarea Philippi centuries ago.

How is your faith informed and energized by your answer to that question? These are things we are invited to ponder on this Feast Day as we strive to answer with the same boldness as Peter…

This post was first published on June 28, 2017 for my former blog, The Liturgical Theologian, on Patheos.

This week marks the 20th anniversary of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. For starters, Alan Jacobs of Wheaton wrote a delightful piece on Harry Potter in 2000 and the piece was recently re-published by First Things. Anyone who knows me will know that I am a diehard-Potter fan. I discovered the books early into the series, I believe it was in between the publishing of Chamber of Secrets and Prisoner of Azkaban. Since my adolescence, I have read the books with vigor, attended 4 midnight book releases, watched the movies with a mixture of joy and zealous criticism, listened to the books while I paint, and most recently I attended Harry Potter in Concert with the Kansas City Symphony at the Kauffman Center. I feel a bit like Paul at this point in giving my credentials—only slightly joking—but I do this to suggest that I am not some squib jumping on the HP bandwagon.

I was listening to the original NPR announcement of Harry Potter this morning—it can be found here—and something grabbed my attention. Margot Adler predicted that the word “muggle” would become a big thing in common language and then shared an audio clip from Rowling discussing it further. Within the HP series the term “muggle” simply means “non-magical person.” However, Rowling shared that she began receiving letters and emails from fans who began expanding the term for modern, non-literary usage. In this form the term came to mean something like “dull and unimaginative person.” And I cannot tell you why, but it was like a lightning bolt scared my brain (see what I did there) and it got me thinking:

What if there are liturgical muggles? What if the loss of the sacramental imagination is like the difference between magic and muggle (or at least squib)? I suppose the easiest place to begin is first with the sacramental imagination and its loss.

…Before I go on, please hear: I am not suggesting that the liturgy is an actual form of magic or that words spoken over bread and wine is a spell or an enchantment like Stupefyor Avada Kedavra. I am not looking to debate hocus pocus (hoc est enim corpus meum) or medieval superstitions. If you find yourself arguing with me on these points then you’ve missed my meaning entirely. The reader may continue…

We are heirs of the Enlightenment. Our collective sacramental imagination has shifted over the course of 2,000 years. The ways in which we interpret information, tell stories, share experiences, and view the world today as Christians in the democratic, capitalist West is different from the earliest centuries of the church in the East and in Rome, it is different from the medieval church, it is different from the overwhelming majority of church history. Why does this matter?

Because we no longer actively view the world as being full of God’s glory, imbued with his presence, overwhelmed by his love, rich with encounters of him, Gerard Manley Hopkins’ lyric, “The earth is charged with the grandeur of God” makes no sense to us. Our imaginations, our sense of awe and wonder, our belief in the movement and action of the Holy Spirit is greatly diminished. There is a reason that Harry Potter, Lewis’ Narnia, the Force in Star Wars, and many similar stories capture our imaginations. It’s because it is so other than what we know and what we are used to. It’s not that these stories view magic positively but that they show a world teeming with possibilities, of a world where the supernatural is bumping against the natural regularly, where things aren’t always as they seem.And that brings me to the liturgy…

Our post-Enlightenment, Protestant worship has seen a minimalist approach to liturgy and a dwindling view of enchantment, wonder, awe, and terror before God. These have been replaced with rationalism, with Bible, with Sermon. In many Protestant, evangelical churches the sermon is the centerpiece. Rather than a dually climactic service where Word and Table play off of and interpret each other, these worship services are almost exclusively comprised of worship songs and a long, highly intellectual (though not always) sermon. The mind is what matters here, and how it affects the hands and the feet afterward, but the body is left relatively alone.

Enter the liturgical muggle.  Remember that I am using muggle as a “dull and unimaginative person.”

This is the subtle shift from sacramental worship to rational worship, from Word and Sacrament to more and more Word. I think, and I may be mistaken, that it is obvious how this shift would result in making liturgical muggles. But those in more historical, liturgical conditions aren’t entirely off the hook. This isn’t an us vs. them situation. It is entirely possible to be(come) a liturgical muggle within the liturgy because, for me, liturgical muggles are those who have lost the sacramental imagination.

Even amid liturgical worship, we have lost a sacramental consciousness, awareness, and imagination as the sacraments have less and less to do with reality and more to do with vague and ethereal signs and symbols. Baptism becomes more about the confession of faith (or covenant promise) than the reality of and individual being washed in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus, of being made a new person, of being anointed with the Holy Spirit. Or Eucharist is about nourishment for the spiritual journey, or a political act of the highest degree (don’t get me started), or a sign of socio-economic equality in the Kingdom of God and not about bread and wine becoming Body and Blood, joining the worship of the cosmos in the heavenly throne room. I could go on and on and on here, but suffice it today that for liturgical muggles water, oil, bread, and wine are always just that. There is no imagination, there is no magic (be careful here) per se. Worship is dull and unimaginative because it is focused exclusively on what our minds can handle and conceive rather than that God is doing in and among us, breaking into our midst regularly, sacramentally.

In my opinion, and I say this with all sincerity and humility, we need to guard against making more liturgical muggles and losing even more of the sacramental imagination. Our Christian worldview needs to shift, and shift pretty dramatically. A deeper, richer, more robust view of the Sacraments will help us avoid becoming liturgical muggles. At the end of the day, rationalist worship or rationalist Christianity is a separation of mind from body, of head and heart, of brain and soul. It may not appear that way, it certainly wasn’t intended that way, but it is it’s own form of escapism, of isolationism, of segregation. The reintegration of these elements, the reintroduction of Sacramental teaching and imagination will result in a holistic, fully-formed, fully informed, fully alive worship and a Christian spirituality that is committed to working within the world we inhabit rather than railing against it constantly.

This post was first published on June 24, 2017 for my former blog, The Liturgical Theologian, on Patheos.

There’s no good way of classifying those who are liturgical snobs by virtue of being low liturgy or low(er) church. I do not have in view those belonging to churches who lack a historical liturgy or connectivity. This is not an anti-liturgy, contra-liturgy, or alternative-liturgy list (that might be another blog post for another time). I know a significant number of people who are Low Liturgy and who deeply appreciate the liturgical tradition of the Church even if they hold said tradition in a less-than-high regard and draw different conclusions.

This list is predominantly based on my personal experience as an Anglican, although certain substitutes can be made (Calvin’s Institutes in place of the 39 Articles, etc.). Do not be fooled, friends, those who are low church and low liturgy are every bit as snobby as those from my list from yesterday. Their views are held with as much fervor and information as Liturgy Snobs.

Here it is: you might be a Low Liturgy Snob if…

  1. Use the 39 Articles as your guide for liturgical and sacramental theology.
  2. Believe the 1662 Book of Common Prayer to be the only prayer book. Extra points if you’ve uttered, “We don’t use an epiclesis because 1662 doesn’t.”
  3. Consciously—and perhaps even with pen in your prayer book—you replace the word “priest” with “presbyter.” Bonus points if your title is Sr. Pastor instead of Rector. Extra points if you avoid being called “Father” because no one can be called Father but God the Father.
  4. Translate High Church as Catholic and Anglo-Catholic as Anglo-Papalist.
  5. Differentiation between sacraments and sacramental rites is of the utmost importance to you.
  6. Who needs liturgy when you have the Solas?
  7. Think that 1552 was Cranmer’s first prayer book. A snobbier position would be in thinking that 1552 reflects his mature theology and is therefore more complete and authentic than 1549.
  8. Wear your preaching tabs or academic hood more often than your collar. Extra points for referring to your collar as a “dog collar” or “flea and tick collar.”
  9. Reject the Imposition of Ashes on Ash Wednesday believing it to be superstitious or works-based.
  10. You insist upon using a Table rather than an Altar for Communion (you definitely don’t call it Mass or even Holy Eucharist).

If you’ve made it to the end of this list and are guilty of the majority of these points, then you are likely a Low Liturgy Snob. You draw your positions on the sacraments, liturgy, and more from the documents and theological milieu of the 16th century Reformations. Low Liturgy Snobs are highly informed and well-read; their positions come from thoughtful study and reflection. Even as I write this list in jest, please be assured that I think you are a valuable part of the Anglican family. I may not agree with you on all points, but then again I don’t agree with anyone on every point.

Here’s the secret to differentiating between Liturgy and Low Liturgy Snobs:

Liturgy Snobs will likely believe that the law of praying shapes the law of belief. They may believe in a two-way street as well.

Low liturgy snobs will definitely believe that the law of belief (doctrine and theology) shapes the law of praying.