I wrote the following last night for some friends. They urged me to post it to the COVENANT web site and for good measure I’m posting it on my own blog. I hope it helps those who feel that there must be an answer to our present woes out side the “structure” of the Anglican Communion and of our own branch of that part of the Church Catholic:

“I have just got up after trying to sleep. The wounds in my side where tubes were inserted to drain the area around my lung are nearly healed but more uncomfortable than usual, I had to go to the dentist today and a parishioner is grumbling that I haven’t picked up on the signs of her stress: I have been in hospital or at home for the last 8 weeks! “Who needs this,” I grumble, as I see my former jurisdiction, the Anglican Province of America flirting with Common Cause, those of us who are loyal to our church criticized for our lack of political strategy and I worry if I will be well enough when I am interviewed for a new parish on Jan 3rd.

So I am reading “Where God Happens” by +Rowan Williams and tonight he bursts into clarity. He’s talking about the desert fathers and mothers and their temptation to wander even further into the desert in search of peace and being advised to press against the walls of their cells, literally press against the stone and make shift with what they have.

Some of you have heard of St. Anthony of Egypt. After Christianity became respectable some who yearned for the stricter discipline of the persecution years went out into the wilderness, the Egyptian desert. They lived largely solitary lives, coming together for prayer and Eucharist. They owned perhaps a plate and a cup, the food they grew or that was given to them and nothing else. They tended to be pretty hard on themselves but not so hard on others.

After quoting advice given to those who still were not satisfied, Archbishop Rowan remarks that our great danger is that we thirst for magic, for an existence now where it is all better. Perhaps this was the temptation given by the devil to Jesus. In reality all the devil could offer was illusion. Even though Jesus did miracles they reinforced the real. They didn’t create something that isn’t.

I was thinking that what the liberals offer and what Common Cause and the Global South offer us is magic, something unreal. If we are seduced by it it will not be “far away” enough and we will press for something more pure, more magical. We must find the solution to what ails the church by pressing harder against its walls, which means for us rediscovering its authenticity. The solution is in what the Anglican Communion is, in its odd ways of decision making, in its strange discipline and NOT in seeking the magic of another world, the pure world of Calvinism or some form of Roman Catholicism that even Pope Benedict wouldn’t recognize. For us we must press against the cell wall of the mundane reality of what it means to be in Communion with Canterbury and with each other worked out for many of us in the parish, the regular round of prayer, the celebration of the Eucharist, in community, however exasperating parishioner may be, in deeper study of the Scriptures and in learning to speak the Gospel clearly and winsomely.

Our own church, and that means us, is guilty of looking for magic, something not real, where sin and poverty are abolished by program and legislation, a world all but the most romantic reject as phoney and so they stay away, and in reaction many of us have sought to create another kind of pure church, doctrinally pure, pure and tidy in discipline and again only attractive to the romantic and the virtuous but phoney to every one else. We may not like the “desert” of Communion Anglicanism but God has placed us in this “cell” and if we remember well, others have lived in it before us, others who we now celebrate and venerate for their holiness. So the cell must be all right, it must be a holy place. We’ve just been seduced by magic?