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SERMON

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/sermons_that_work_116056_ENG_HTM.htm

HEALTH CARE

I rarely blog about matters political. After all my 44 years in the US is merely a temporary fling.  I begin, in the modern manner, which I normally avoid, by waxing anecdotal.

My grandfather was born in St. Lucia or mixws race ancestry. I first met him after World War 2 and disgraced my self by exclaiming “My Grandpa is a Black Man.”  He trained as a doctor at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow, I have his diplomas on my bookshelf.  He practiced before the age of national health plans. He visited his patients in their homes, was paid in money, chickens, eggs and sometimes not at all. He believed that the Hippocratic oath obliged him to treat all, wheter he received payment or not.

My mother was a Yorkshire coal miner’s daughter. She didn’t go to High School. Determined to be a qualified nurse she sent applications all over England and was constantly rejected until a hospital chief nurse decided to take the risk and admitted her to nursing school. She “graduated” with a gold medal and went on to complete midwifery training. She was very proud to place after her name, SCN, SCM, State Certified Nurse, State Certified Midwife. Before National Health came into law, she visited all the sick in the villages which were her “parish” and delivered most of the babies, whether she was paid or not.  It was her calling.

I was too young when the National Health system came into play in England. No doubt there were those who fought against it because they could afford to pay and were damned if they would pay fo the poor to receive medical attention. I presume some of the opponents were doctors and some Insurance Company.

My cousin’s husband has just had a heart operation in England. It was paid for on the National Health. Mercifully Jack is doing well. He waited a few weeks, true. He wasn’t in great danger and if he had been would have been seen to immediately.

What baffles me totally is how Christians can support the idea that the right to “Life”, as in Liberty and Happiness, is somehow a lesser right than the right to a free education. It baffles me that people can oppose giving medical care to anyone in need. Baffling and deeply troubling.

ANGLICAN?

The term Anglican as a brand name is of Victorian vintage.  It perhaps summons up that feeling of English self-confidence which went along with the Empire and perhaps antimacassars. The British were not only in charge of vast areas of the world but were gifting to those populations Christianity clothed in the civil and moderate temperament of the Established Church.

It is true that there were battles about Churchmanship as bitter as those now fought over sex. The difference was that almost all the bishops who came to Lambeth in 1867 were British products of the better Public Schools and graduates of Oxford and Cambridge, sharing a common language, from the same “class” and all loyal to the British Throne.  Of course there were the Americans but they were busy emulating the culture and ethos of the Church of England in architecture, ceremonial and the method and content of theological education for the clergy despite their odd form of government.

A late Victorian would answer the question, “What is an Anglican?” easily. She would stutter something about membership of a Church in communion with the See of Canterbury, which used a recognizably common version of the Book of Common Prayer and for whom the Articles of Religion, parsed in either Catholic, Evangelical or Broad Church prose were “in use” (to quote the then wording of PECUSA’s Constitution.)

After the middle of the 19th Century there arose small groups who qualified in all aspects save that of being in Communion with Canterbury. They were located in South Africa, North America and England. Were these bodies Anglican?  Opinions varied but most suggested they were not. “Anglican” referred to a structural association, the leaders of which as individual bishops were recognized by the Archbishop of Canterbury by beinging invited every ten years to the Lambeth Conference. The bishops of these Evangelical outposts were not invited to Lambeth! Enough said. It was much more “British” to express disapproval by ignoring such types than to issue statements denouncing them.

During the past year  two events challenge this traditional use of the term “Anglican”. The first was the creation of the Anglican Church in North America.  The second, this week was the announcement that the Roman Catholic Church is to create Anglican Ordinariates for those who in faith and conscience have either left Provinces or the Anglican Communion or contemplate so doing.

Involved in all this is a linguistic shift of some importance.  When I was exercising the episcopate in what is termed now a “continuing church”  it was often suggested to me that my ecclesial body could not use the term Anglican in self-description because it was not in communion with Canterbury. When I sought a ruling from +Robert Runcie, then Archbishop of Canterbury he replied that the relationship was “fluid”: a delightful and typically Anglican fudge.

Rome now seems to interpret the term to mean a tradition, an ethos, a way of doing liturgy and perhaps pastoral work, or a cultural-religious phenomenon.  In affirming such an interpretation in formal canonical language it does Anglicanism no favor.  While “Communion-Anglicans” are struggling with the matter of structural and ecclesial integrity, concerning the breadth and limits of autonomy, Rome issues a Constitution which logically suggests that Anglicanism has no ecclesial and structural integrity at its core, but is rather a “spiritual” and traditional phenomenon, the essence of which may be captured and preserved without reference to what it actually is.  Anglicans should be concerned that we are seen no longer as a Church of Churches, but rather a flavor!

THIS AND THAT

THE ROME OPTION

In watching the press conference given by the RC Archbishop of Westminster in the presence of the Archbishop of Canterbury I felt very sorry for +Rowan. By all accounts he was given little notice that Rome was going to set up enclaves for former Anglicans within the Roman Catholic Church.  Despite all the assurances that ecumenical relations won’t be compromised, I find Rome’s action extraordinarily ungracious.  It is one thing to offer a home to people seeking to convert to Rome and quite another to permit the establishment of Roman Catholicism with an Anglican flavor.  That smacks to me of enticement.

What that Anglican flavor would look like remains to be seen. Most pro-Roman Anglo-Catholics in England already use the Roman Rite and the Roman Breviary. I doubt whether converting parishes will be able to take their buildings and the memories associated with those buildings with them. So what of an Anglican flavor remains other than a married priesthood?

Rome may have bitten off a pretty indigestible package.

BISHOP ACKERMAN

I know few people who have met +Keith who do not love him. While other traditionalist bishops in the House of Bishops assumed somewhat lugubrious aspects, +Keith always bounced around, a smile on his face, sincerely seeking to connect with all and sundry. He is a holy and devout man who cares very much for people.

Now he has been deposed.  He asked to be transferred to the Diocese of Bolivia in the Province of the Southern Cone and to be permitted to serve in TEC dioceses when not down in South America.  It seems that bishops who seek to move to other Anglican Provinces, like my friend +Henry Scriven and now +Keith Ackerman, will be deposed. Priests may obtain letters dimissory from their American bishops to serve abroad without facing desposition. It seems that this is not open to Bishops.

Granted relations between the Southern Cone and TEC are rather frosty (no pun intended) but as TEC hasn’t severed its communion with that Province one sees no logic in this new policy. On the other hand TEC regularly grants “collegial status” to overseas bishops who stay for a period over here.

Now of course if +Keith has used his status in the Diocese of Bolivia to perform episcopal actions in ACNA congregations he would commit a canonical offense. But he hasn’t so done.

I am sickened by the way +Keith has been treated.

RETREATS

I was delighted to lead the annual retreat of our Diocesan Daughters of the King last Saturday. I received some very gracious and appreciative comments afterwards. One of the thing which has troubled me since entering TEC ten years ago is the little opportunity I have been given to use my gifts with clergy and laity, in leading conferences and retreats. So, if you are planning such events, dear readers, think of me!