I have had the remarkable grace to be a member of the Anglican Province of Christ the King since 1977 when I returned home to the Bay Area a single parent with a four-year-old son. Over the years I have become immersed in the lyrical and artistic liturgies of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, a truly remarkable grace.
Many other Christian denominations share some or most of our dance in time with God our Creator, but as I have learned the steps and the words that go with the steps, I have engrafted Scripture into/onto my soul. Learning these precious words and phrases by heart is like seeding beauty to blossom in my heart. In time, our earthly time, I have grown old and now find myself living in a beautiful poem of truth, goodness, and beauty, all brimming with the immense love of God.
Words are mankind’s way of representing reality and, in turn, communicating that reality to each other. Language through the centuries has been shaped into sentences, paragraphs, and chapters to be placed upon pages or to be sounded with lungs and lips. Words spoken express the true depths of the speaker to the listener. Words allow us to share ideas, passions, instruction, and love. In the sharing trust grows. In the sharing we receive a part of another to be given away another time to someone else who has ears to hear, so that they will have eyes to see.
In this way – this sharing of truth – humanity flourishes, seeking ways to heal the past, to undo the curse of Eden and repent and start anew, to link one another, to banish loneliness, to sanctify the present and solemnize the future. We do this with words.
We also share untruths, increasing separation, distrust, and isolation. Lies are intentional falsities. These lies, regardless of where or when or to whom they belong, slither among us like snakes in the grass, the garden, seeking to devour. They divide. They harm. They kill trust and they kill love.
And so, in this fallen world, we seek authorities we trust to tell the truth. Just so, I found the Anglican Province of Christ the King, and in the finding, found joy, peace, certainty and an authority I could trust to keep me close to Christ, my king.
Sunday’s Epistle was one of the most poetically powerful of all Scriptures, a passage that rings true from St. Paul’s heart to my own, traveling from the first century, over two thousand years to my listening ears today. He writes to the church in Ephesus:
“I DESIRE that… [Christ] would grant you… according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
The Epistle. Ephesians 3:13+, 1928 Book of Common Prayer, p. 212
The breadth, and length, and depth, and height of Christ’s love is known because we are rooted and grounded in so great a love that it passeth all knowledge. We become filled with the fulness of God.
And this happens in every liturgy. This fulness-filling. A remarkable grace.
Words. Words transform us and link us through the centuries, throughout the world, to be freely given and freely accepted without fear. True freedom is free speech without fear.
This last week we celebrated the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. I believe in angels, for they are in Holy Scripture and confirmed by the Church. St. Michael the Archangel fought the Angel Lucifer (ironic name=light) and threw him out of Heaven (see Revelation 12:7+): “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.”
Lucifer is the demon of lies. Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We continue to witness the war waged furiously all about us, this war between truth and lies. But we as Christians have authorities we can trust, the Church and the Word of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Words. Ways of meaning. Ways of truth. Ways to the Truth. Ways to live life.
And like Jacob’s dream of the angels on the ladder between Heaven and Earth, so we use words to bridge the space between ourselves and God. We are given the words to use by Our Lord himself, and the prayer is the ladder: “Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
We say this morning and evening and whenever we think of it. We live inside the prayer and the prayer lives inside us. In this way words weave the Word of Life into our souls, into our time on this Earth, and we are given life eternal. Amen.