We visited St. Peter’s Anglican Church, Oakland today.
Today is a sunny Sunday, here in the Bay Area, but this time of year the night slowly absorbs the day. We rise in the dark and dine in the dark as winter moves in, robbing the light. The air carries a crisp chill and the trees turn russet in the valley below our house. The brown hills of summer are greening and all is golds and reds under a dome of blue.
As Anglo-Catholics, we follow the Church Year, the celebrations of our belief through the seasons. We are between All Saints and Thanksgiving, pausing before Advent and the Feast of the Incarnation, Christmas. We are finishing up the long season of Trinitytide, a time of learning and growth, a liturgical green season linking Easter and Christmas.
And the Scripture lessons in church today reflected this pause; the hymns were sober, quiet hymns, feeding the mood. We rest in our journey through time, through the mystery of the year given to us, and listen to the Epistle where Saint Paul writes to his friends in Philippi:
“And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; that ye may approve things that are excellent.” (Philippians 1:9-10, Book of Common Prayer, 220-1)
We listen to the Gospel lesson which tells of Christ’s command to Peter to forgive “seventy times seven,” in other words, to forgive forever.
As our good Father Pomroy preached on these words, I thought how closely these things were linked: love, knowledge, judgment, excellence, and forgiveness. That to love as we should we must learn to discern the good from the bad, to strive for excellence. When we fail, we forgive one another, but we always strive to become what God wants us to become, that his will be done.
Such a desire – to know what to approve and what not to approve. To judge correctly in today’s complicated world.
So I go to Mass with its own excellence, its beauty expressed through two thousand years of liturgy. I absorb the words of our priest as he leans towards us earnestly from the pulpit. I say my prayers. I partake of Christ in the Eucharist. Day by day, through quiet hours and busy weeks, I pray that I see what is excellent and what is not. I pray that I have enough love to forgive so that I too may be forgiven. God, in time, will layer his grace upon my soul through his presence here on earth in Church, Scripture, and Sacrament. One day, all will be excellent.