Why We Love The Anglican Way (pt. 1)
Anglicanism is Gospel-Centered
The first reason we love being Anglican is that our worship is Gospel-centered. Simply stated, the Gospel is the proclamation that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior. The Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, adopted by the Church of England in 1571, historically define the doctrines and practices of the Church of England. Article XI explains that we are “accounted righteous before God, only for the merit of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ by Faith, and not for our own works or deservings.” This merit was attained by Christ, the “Lamb without spot, who, by sacrifice of himself once made, should take away the sins of the world.” (Article XV.)
This Gospel-centeredness is baked into our daily Morning and Evening Prayer and weekly in our service of Holy Eucharist (Holy Communion). Each time we use our Book of Common Prayer (“Prayer Book”) to pray together in the morning or evenings, we confess our sins to our “Almighty and most merciful Father,” asking him to “have mercy upon us,” according to the “promises declared unto all people In Christ Jesus our Lord,” that we may thereafter “live a godly, righteous, and sober life.” In response to this prayer, the priest often prays to “Almighty God, . . . who desires not the death of sinners” and declares that God “pardons and absolves all those who truly repent, and genuinely believe his holy Gospel.”
Likewise, in our Holy Eucharist service, we see repeatedly the pattern of sin, grace, and faith, and this gracious pattern is hammered into our heads every single week! We begin by praying the Collect for Purity, which acknowledges our sin. We ask for God’s mercy in the Kyrie (“Lord have mercy”) and we respond in faith by professing our faith in the Nicene Creed. This pattern is repeated later in the communion service, when we confess our sins to God. God, in His grace and through his duly ordained priest, declares our absolution. The priest then gives us, every week, the “Comfortable Words” of Matthew 11:28 (“Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”), John 3:16, 1 Timothy 1:15 (“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”), and 1 John 2:1-2 (“we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the Righteous”). We respond in faith through the communion service itself, as we lift up our hearts to the Lord to meet Him at His banquet table.
Later in the service, we again see this pattern, being reminded of our sin in the Prayer of Humble Access, in which we admit we do not approach the Lord’s Table “trusting in our own righteousness.” We are reminded of God’s grace as we sing the Agnus Dei (“O Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us. . .”). We respond in faith by receiving Christ in the sacrament of Holy Communion (“Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving”).
Of course, our sermon, or homily, should also be gospel-centered, but a beautiful mark of Anglicanism is that the gospel is clear and present every single time we pray Morning or Evening Prayer and every time we celebrate the Liturgy, even if the homily misses the mark! The Gospel saturates what we do, and this Gospel-saturation is one reason we love being Anglican! If you’d like to check this out for yourself, come visit us! Or, take a look at our Morning Prayer (p. 11) and Holy Eucharist services (p. 105) in our Prayer Book, which may be found here for free: https://bcp2019.anglicanchurch.net/index.php/downloads/
(The preceding post was freely adapted from a series presented to Christ the Redeemer REC in Owensboro, KY)