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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Friday, February 16, 2007

The Lord's Table

SITTING AT THE LORD'S TABLE :

Statement from Global South primates

CONN/100207

A number of the Global South primates have not shared in the Holy Eucharist today with their fellow primates. They include Abp. Peter Akinola, Abp John Chew, Abp. Benjamin Nzimbi, Abp Justice Akrofi, Abp. Henry Orombi, Abp. Gregory Venables, and Abp. Emmanuel Kolini. They represent more than 30 million faithful Anglicans. They have released this statement:

"We each take the celebration of the Holy Eucharist very seriously. This deliberate action is a poignant reminder of the brokenness of the Anglican Communion. It makes clear that the torn fabric of the Church has been torn further. It is a consequence of the decision taken by our provinces to declare that our relationship with The Episcopal Church is either broken or severely impaired.

Scripture teaches that before coming to sit with one another at the Lord's Table we must be reconciled. (Matthew 5:23-26 and 1 Corinthians 11:27-29 ) We have made repeated calls for repentance by The Episcopal Church and its leadership with no success. We continue to pray for a change of heart.

We are unable to come to the Holy Table with the Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church because to do so would be a violation of Scriptural teaching and the traditional Anglican understanding, "Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith" (Book of Common Prayer)

This is a painful decision for us and also for our host and brother, the Most RevĀ¹d Donald Mtetemela. He understands our painful dilemma and accepts our decision. Pray for the Church."

Friday, February 16, 2007
White Sands Hotel, Jangwani Beach, Tanzania

Let's look at this carefully.

"Ye that do truly and earnestly repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways; Draw near with faith..."

I would not even begin to presume to question the truth and earnestness of any repentance in the heart of the seven primates in question. We have never met, and I am certainly not their confessor, to be in a position of praying with them, and ascertaining the thoughts of their hearts. It would seem from the outside, however, that they were (and are) apparently not "in love and charity with their neighbors," So perhaps their choice was theologically and spiritually correct.

However, that action does not, as some would suggest (and the men in question seem to believe), reflect godly condemnation of others at the table. Properly understood, it ought to reflect their concern over the state of their own souls. That is surely the message of the scripture they cite:

From the Gospel of Matthew:
21"You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, 'Do not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.' 22But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, 'Raca,' is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, 'You fool!' will be in danger of the fire of hell.23"Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift. 25Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. 26I tell you the truth, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.

And from 1 Corinthians:
27Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. 29For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself.

So, this is the sad thing... that these seven are in such a spiritual state that they feel unable to accept the body and blood of Our Lord. Further, rather than quietly declining to receive (as anyone may do, for any number of reasons), they feel the need to proclaim themselves so publicly. How tragic.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Mark J. said...

The one thing in all of this that really breaks apart the Archbishops' argument for me is the point you and Rev Ref both make: The decision whether to approach the table and receive Jesus at the Eucharist isn't about the other people at the table. The quotes they use are about examining youself, not the people around you.

Their argument seems to be that since others at the table are obviously not in good relationship with them, then it isn't proper to join them at the table. But that would be ++KJS' decision, not theirs.

By making this decision they're commenting more on their own souls and relationships, not on what others have done.

February 17, 2007 12:06 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From The Hymnal 1982, accordingto the use of The Episcopal Church, Hymn number 529:

"In Christ there is no East or West, in hime no South or North, but one great fellowship of love throughout the whole wide earth."

Words by John Oxenham, 1852-1941.

John J.

February 18, 2007 12:31 PM  

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