I’m not always very positive about living in Sydney or about the Anglican Church but in a surprising turn of events I found myself feeling a tiny bit rosy about them both this evening.
It was probably the Mongolian Lamb served on a sizzling hotplate from the Sussex St Food Court that did it. I really love Asian food. I love China town.
Who knew what truly bizarre things you could put into pastries…
Curried Prawn Danish anyone?
This past week I’ve been hanging out in the Public Gallery of the Anglican Synod most afternoons. It’s the only chance I’ve had to see my wife (she’s working there). To actually talk to her I would need to move a motion (no, that’s not really true, my love).
Although, when I come to think of it there is no shortage of helpful Motions – even full blown Gestures – I could come up with for a chamber of Anglicans…
The strange thing is that I am never more attracted to Anglicanism than when I traipse along to Synod. (Before you bother typing it into Google: a) No, it is not symptomatic of serious mental disturbance; b) Yes, I checked).
Synod is tough and sometimes boring, but they do a good job of making sure there are glimpses of the beautiful, powerful gospel ministry that is going on in, and through, faithful people in Churches.
But more than that, what I find stirring as a born-and-bred congregationalist, is a sense of genuine commitment that extends beyond the local Christian assembly. I love watching Anglicans wrestling with each other over theology or practical ministry or parish administration (or just wrestling… mud, jelly, whatever).
I love the debates. Not because I have an unhealthy interest in conflict but because it is a demonstration of involvement in each others’ lives.
It means giving up freedom, having to labor over and over an idea, being rejected or shouted down.
But it means thoughts are tested, support is offered, and ideally, relationships are prioritized over concepts.
The Anglican Church has never been more than an imperfectly reformed Church, and I’m proud of the men and women who left it in the past, at great personal cost, for the sake of their consciences and the gospel. Anglophone evangelicalism owes so much of its strength and character to them (as does so much of what is valuable in the Western liberal tradition).
But there is a sacrifice involved in staying, in committing yourself to others, to bearing each others burdens – this is a difficult beauty of Anglicanism.
Richard Chin, the National Director of AFES, is fond of saying that fellowship is a self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision – that’s why fellowship is such a distinctly Christian concept.
We don’t go in for conformity much these days, or self-sacrifice, and so our Christian fellowship can be impoverished.
Maybe a little old-timey Anglicanism wouldn’t hurt.