Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Former Queen's Chaplain Gavin Ashenden quits 'liberal' Church of England

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,

This reached my desk yesterday and frankly I am not surprised.

Former Queen's Chaplain Gavin Ashenden quits 'liberal' Church of England
By Harry Farley
 17 March 2017
A former Queen's chaplain has quit as a Church of England priest after a long-running objection to what he saw as the liberalising trend of the CofE.

Canon Gavin Ashenden made the unusual move of resigning his orders on Friday, Christian Today can reveal, leaving more than 35 years of ordained ministry.
Gavin Ashenden used to present the BBC's weekly Faith and Ethics radio programme and was a member of general synod for 20 years.

An ardent conservative on both sexuality and women priests, Rev Ashenden confirmed to Christian Today he had signed the 'deed of relinquishment' under the Clerical Disabilities Act 1870. This starts a six-month interim period before he officially leaves the Church.

He declined to comment on the move until his six-month waiting time is up.
It comes after the long-standing critic of the Church left his post as Queen's chaplain in January following a row over a Quran reading in Glasgow Cathedral. The Shropshire-based priest criticised the decision by Rev Kelvin Holdsworth, Provost of St Mary's Cathedral, for inviting a reading from the Islamic holy book at the Epiphany service on January 6.

'After a conversation instigated by officials at Buckingham Palace, I decided the most honourable course of action was to resign,' he said at the time pointing to a 'a very important convention that the Queen should not be drawn into publics affairs where she is deemed to be taking a position'.
His decision to leave ministry in the Church could lead others to follow suit. A number of conservative Anglicans have voiced their concern about the Archbishop of Canterbury's call for a 'radical, new Christian inclusion' after a report maintaining a largely conservative stance on sexuality was rejected by the CofE's ruling general synod.

'There is no sign the Church of England is going to reconsider its policy of accommodation with the secular culture,' Ashenden said in a previous interview with Christian Today.
'It has abandoned certain key and apostolic norms,' he added, warning the CofE would collapse within decades because of its refusal to adhere to conservative Christianity.
He contrasted the year-on-year decline in England with the rapidly growing churches in Russia and China and said the difference was they had 'not made an accommodation with the culture'.
He said in the January interview: 'There are two kinds of Anglicanism. A secular Anglicanism and a traditional biblical Anglicanism.

'I see myself and others as very soon having to make a choice.'
He described himself as 'in limbo' between the CofE and other Anglican churches around the world.
'I certainly look at worldwide Anglicanism and I associate myself with some parts of the Anglican church that have kept the biblical faith. And I increasingly disassociate myself with parts like the Church of England.


All the reason the more that I moved to the Anglican Catholic Church/Original Province

Father Ed Bakker

Sunday, March 19, 2017

The Third Sunday in Lent

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,

"Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

On the past two Sundays, we saw how the Lenten Collects and the Scripture Lessons appointed by the Church are meant to be an organized course in Christian faith and practice, leading up to a renewal of our commitment to our crucified and resurrected Lord on Easter Day. In the first installment of this course, we were reminded that the self-sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ is the heart of the Christian religion. In the second, we were taught that our own self-sacrifice, in response to that of Jesus Christ, is the chief means by which we practice Christianity, demonstrating that our faith and trust in our Savior are real, rather than mere lip service. 

Today, on the Third Sunday in Lent, we can see just how ancient this Lenten course in Christianity truly is. In the early Church, except in emergencies, converts to Christianity spent three years preparing for Baptism, which was usually administered on Easter Even, as Lent gave way to Easter. Those getting ready for Baptism were called "catechumens," from a Greek word that means "to teach by repetition." What the catechumens studied was their "catechism," a constant repetition of certain Biblical truths. There is still a catechism in our Prayer Book, intended to perform the same function. 

On this Sunday before Easter, and through the following week, the candidates for Baptism would be tested on their knowledge of the Christian catechism in a process called "the scrutinies," from the Latin for "a careful and searching examination for flaws." Also, in recognition that knowledge without grace is useless, the baptismal candidates would be exorcised, so that cleansed of any influence of the devil, their hearts and minds would be free and open to the indwelling grace of God. 

Thus, if we look at today’s Gospel from St. Luke, we will find both a lesson from our Lord on the casting out of devils and an assertion that only those who "hear the word of God, and keep it" are truly blessed (Luke 11:14-28). Likewise, if we study today’s Epistle from St. Paul to the Ephesians, we will be taught how those who have been cleansed of darkness and made the children of light, and the adopted children of God by grace, must behave to remain in the light. These, and similar passages from Scripture, are the actual lessons that those ancient converts were taught before their Baptism. 

Today’s Collect is almost as ancient as the Scriptures themselves. It begins, "We beseech thee, Almighty God, look upon the hearty desires of thy humble servants." Those "hearty desires," meaning "desires of the heart," were simply called "vows" in the original Latin of this prayer. And those "vows" were the vows of Baptism, which you can still find in the baptismal service in our Prayer Book. 

These vows are both negative and positive. In our negative vows, we renounce the devil and all his works, along with the vain pomp and glory of the world and the sinful desires of the flesh. In our positive vows, we declare our belief in the Christian faith as summarized in the Apostles’ Creed; we swear that we truly desire to be baptized, holding nothing back; and we solemnly announce our intention to follow God alone, keeping his holy will and commandments, and walking in the same all the days of our lives (BCP 276-277). 

Our own experience of living in a fallen world ought to teach us, if nothing else, that these are hard vows to keep. That is why the candidates for Baptism were exorcised, and why we still pray to God in our Collect "stretch forth the right hand of thy Majesty, to be our defence against all our enemies; through Jesus Christ our Lord." These words connect us to those ancient converts, since we have the same spiritual enemies that they had, and because we still need, as much as they ever did, all of God’s help in maintaining our life in him.
We still pray for that help, and we still receive that help, only through our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, although we may already be baptized, we can only maintain our faith and our new, God-given life in Jesus Christ by constantly remembering the truths of the Christian Faith; by daily renewing our efforts to keep the vows of our Baptism; by renouncing the devil and his works just as often; and by keeping a holy Easter as the memorial of our rescue from sin and death. 

The Church’s general message this morning, meant for all believers, is, first of all, that the constant study and repetition of the truths of the faith is an indispensable part of any Biblical life. The second part of her message is this: we each must be exorcised of the devil to live a godly life. This sort of true exorcism, however, is not just some sort of ceremony. It is to become so filled with the things that belong to God, to live a life so full of truth and so completely taken up with righteous behavior, that there is no room in our lives for the devil or his works. 
The Church did not invent these principles of good living. God did. We find the evidence in today’s Old Testament Lesson from Deuteronomy: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might" (6:4-5). These words are the oldest written Creed of God’s true religion. They are still recited daily by Jews and tied to their bodies in little boxes call "phylacteries" so that they will never forget them. We say them, too, at the Holy Communion, because it was only natural that our Lord, when asked to summarize the Law of God, should have used these same words, adding to them the words of Leviticus 19:18, wherein we learn our God-given duty to love our neighbor as ourselves. 

Christ used these words because his Father had commanded them to be used. God told the chosen people through Moses: "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 6:6-7). 

This commandment of God delivers to us the pattern by which Biblical Christians are meant to live today, and the pattern by which such faithful Christians have always lived. We say more than the words of Deuteronomy because God has given us more than Moses could deliver. God has given us his Son Jesus Christ to fulfill all the Law and prophecies of the Old Testament, and to be the center of our belief and understanding of his Father’s will in the New Testament. 

God has not changed. He is still, and he will always be, One Lord. Jesus Christ, the Eternal Son of God, has revealed to us that the One Lord of the Bible is God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. More than this, Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to live in communion with the One Lord God by dying on the cross and by making us members of his own Body. If we belong to the Son, we necessarily belong to the Father and the Holy Ghost. 

The Church teaches us today what God has taught us through his Living Word. The Church teaches us how to belong to God and how to remain in the communion of God the Father, through God the Son, and by God the Holy Ghost. We must drive out the devil by the grace and power of God, made manifest and available through the Truth that God has revealed and the righteousness he has commanded. We must keep ever before us the Truth of God’s love and our salvation, repeating that Truth to ourselves, to each other, to our children, and to a needy world.

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Light in the darkness of Lent

Dear Friends in Christ,

In the second week of Lent, we ask for light. Our minds are limited in what we can grasp, and our memories are limited in what we can retain. We can easily forget or misremember what we did, felt, and thought—especially something that we want to forget. So we need His light if we are to grow in God’s service.

When we ask God for light, we are asking to know as God knows: good, bad, up, down, all of it. A good prayer is to ask the Father to let me know myself the way the Holy Spirit knows me, “for the Spirit searches the depths of everything, even the depths of God” (1 Corinthians 2:10).

God does everything to bring us light. In our turn, each of us must get ready to accept God’s illumination. One important way to get ready for God’s light is to pray to be unafraid of what we see.

We can ask God to shed light on our routines and habits. Is a good habit growing stronger? Is a certain habit more harmful than I admit? We need our usual ways of doing things. Without routines we’d take all day just to have breakfast. At the same time, almost any habit can either enable our freedom or impede our freedom. We have to watch.

And habits can turn into harmful attachments. We can hold on to things or ideas so tightly that we are no longer really free. So we beg God for light to see when an attachment is leading us to sin. God sees it for what it is; we ask to share that insight.
Finally, when we ask for light, we need to be ready to accept what God gives us.

Father Ed Bakker,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Second Sunday in Lent

Dear Fathers, Friends in Christ,

THE GOSPEL.  S. Matth. 15. 21 
“O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt.”

You get what you want sometimes, it seems. Let us hope that we really know what it is that we want. Let us hope that what we want is what is right and good for us, that what we want is, ultimately, what God wants for us.  But is that all that is required for us to get what we want, namely, a certain clarity about our desires and wishes?  No.  There is something more than mere clarity about the desires of our hearts, the collection of whims and fancies that belong to the restlessness of our hearts.
Lent seeks the clarification of our minds and the purification of our wills.  Purgation and illumination are fundamental features of the classical understanding of Christian pilgrimage, a pilgrimage that is concentrated for us in the season of Lent, but which is really the pilgrimage of our souls to God.  The third part of the classical understanding of Christian pilgrimage has to do with the perfection and unity of our wills with God.  Purgation, illumination and perfection or unity. For all three of these classical aspects of pilgrimage – the Trinitarian principles of our journeying to God – there is a necessary prerequisite.  It is the note sounded in our liturgy in what is called The Prayer of Humble Access, the note beautifully and powerfully signified in today’s gospel.
The Prayer of Humble Access is familiar to you all, I am sure.  At once poetic and theological, it speaks directly to the nature of our engagement with all things divine, especially the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
“We do not presume to come to this thy table, O merciful Lord; Trusting in our own righteousness, But in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy So much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, Whose property is always to have mercy...”
We pray this as a necessary and critical part of our preparation and approach to the Sacrament of the altar.  The prayer echoes explicitly the Gospel for this day - the story of the Canaanite woman who approaches Jesus so resolutely and yet so humbly. 
There are two words which stand here in a complementary relation.  They are the words ‘humble’  and ‘access’.  Humility is the condition of our access to God.  What the prayer expresses is a fundamental attitude of Faith.  It is not our presumption - our “trusting in our own righteousness” - but our humility - our trusting in “the manifold and great mercies of God” that is altogether crucial.  Against all that is thrown at her, this woman has a hold of this one thing - the mercies of God in Jesus Christ.  To have a hold of that is humility - she presumes upon nothing else - and it is this that gains her access to the heart of Christ.  Humility gains access.
Humility is not the same thing as low self-esteem.  It is not the whinge of “I can’t do that” which really means “I won’t even try”.  It is not the whine of the “poor-me’s” which is really our grovelling for attention, in other words our self-centered pride.  Humility is not grovelling self-pity.  For such things are really our presumption.  We demand all the attention as if we were the centre of everything.  We aren’t.  Humility is the recognition that Jesus is the centre and that we can have access to him – on his conditions, not ours.
“Then came she and knelt before him, saying, Lord, help me”.  There is an encounter and an engagement with Jesus.  The dialogue is quite intense - even frighteningly so.  But her kneeling down is not manipulation.  It is not grovelling self-abasement.  It is, instead, the attitude and posture of Faith.  It says, in effect, that God is God and we are not.  Such is humility.  It is the condition of our access to God.  The woman does not presume to be the centre of attention.  For all her persistence, what is constant is her focus on Jesus.  He has her undivided attention.  She sees in him the mercies of God which she seeks.  “Lord, help me”.
It is not a plaintive cry.  It is the prayer of Faith.  The strong sense of the mercy of God is the counter to our self-presumption and self-preoccupation.
She seeks a healing mercy from Jesus not for herself but for her daughter.  A mother’s love is a strong and compelling motive.  The sickness of a child or some other crisis in our lives will often bring us to our knees.  We are rendered helpless.  “We have no power of ourselves to help ourselves”.  It would be foolish to deny this.
But the point of this Gospel really is not that we should wait for some emergency to bring us on our knees before God.  No.  The point of the Gospel is seen in its application as expressed in The Prayer of Humble Access.  “Lord, help me” is a constant prayer, a daily prayer.  It belongs to the constantly recurring theme of our liturgy: “Lord, have mercy upon us”.  It belongs, in other words, to the maturity of our faith, the faith that holds onto the mercy of God and will not let go.
Humility ever looks to Christ.  It is our openness to him as the centre of our lives.  It is the condition of our access to him.  When we are presumptuous we are full of ourselves.  There is no room for God.  We presume to be the centre which we are not.  Humility opens us out to the mercies of God in Jesus Christ. “O Saviour of the world, who by thy Cross and precious Blood hast redeemed us; Save us, and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord”.
The humility of Christ is the hope of our exaltation.  He lifts us up.  Humility is not only the condition of our access to God; it is also our exaltation.  For in our humility our wills are one with God’s will.  We are open to what he wants for us.  “O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt”.

Father Ed Bakker
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The first Sunday in Lent

Dear Friends in Christ,

Angels play an important part in the Gospel story from Matthew on this first Sunday in Lent.
The gradual, taken from Psalm 90 tells us : " God hath given his angels charge over thee in
all thy ways."And we respond to that saying :"in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest
at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.

When celebrating Mass I read the very familiar story that Jesus was taken by the spirit to the desert
to be tempted by the devil. This temptation was preceeded by forty days and forty nights of fasting.Weak as he was after this period of time our Lord Jesus Christ withstood all the temptations by the devil and at the end He dismissed the devil by saying " Begone Satan , for it is written : The Lord thy God shalt thou adore, and him only shalt thou serve. The devil left then and the angels came and ministered to the Lord Jesus Christ.

My life and no doubt yours is like a private desert, where we are constantly tempted by the devil or matters upset us, which are the work of the devil. I can recite a whole list of present experiences ,which are happening in the private desert of my life. Yet only through constant prayer and living my life in God's ways of rightiousness and peace and through the help of the Holy Spirit I can overcome the temptations.

At this point in time things are a bit much and I need to pray that the angels would come and minister to me in my private desert.
This, offcourse, is also something to consider in your own lives. Do the same , if you, in your private desert cannot handle things anymore.

When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Father Ed Bakker,
Anglican Catholic Church / Original Province
Mission of Saint Aidan of Lindisfarne
Launceston on Tasmania