December 21, 2006

Why Not Leave?

Filed under: Anglicanism — William Witt @ 5:55 am

Every once in awhile, a commenter on one of the orthodox Anglican blogs will raise the question: “Why not just leave?” Sometimes they’re asking, “Why not leave the Episcopal Church?” Often these are ECUSA revisionists who are irritated because they’ve won the battle, or at least they thought they had, yet we’re not dead, we’re not willing to admit we’ve been defeated, and we refuse to quit fighting. We’re ruining their victory. My own bishop [Andrew Smith of Connecticut] raised just this question for over half of his most recent annual diocesan convention speech. The answer, of course, is simple. We intend to keep you up at night.

But sometimes the question is not “Why don’t you leave the Episcopal Church?,” but “Why don’t you leave Anglicanism?” Those who ask are often former Episcopalians who have found relief in another church, often Roman Catholic or Orthodox, and they are asking us to join them.

These are people who left Anglicanism because they saw that the ECUSAn ship was sinking. Often they speak out of genuine concern. They now stand safely on the shore, and they are offering a hand, as they fear it is only a matter of time before we sink beneath the waves. I do appreciate their concerns, which, I believe, are genuine.

Others, however, have left Anglicanism, and look back with either the hurt of disappointed lovers, or the anger of those who seem to believe themselves betrayed, who have been sold a bill of goods. The message I too often hear from these people is that not only is the ship sinking, but it was never anything but a leaky tub anyway, and the damned thing deserved to sink. Sometimes I detect even a note of gleefulness that the useless hulk is going down, and those who stay aboard deserve their fate. But whether they’re hurt, or angry, or gleeful, the message is the same. Anglicanism was a bad deal from the start. But it’s not too late to get aboard the real ship, the one ship that will never sink. (more…)

December 17, 2006

An Advent Sermon

Filed under: Sermons — William Witt @ 8:19 am

Of the three theological virtues—faith, hope and charity—hope is the virtue that most characterizes Advent. Faith is the virtue we might associate in particular with Easter. Faith believes that victory is hidden in the cross that awaits the end of the path of Holy Week; faith believes that God has triumphed over death by bringing the crucified Christ to new life, the resurrection life of Jesus we share in through faith; Charity, or love, we associate easily with Christmas; Christmas is the time when we give gifts to others in honor of the Great Gift God has given to us by sending his Son as a child in a manger; Christmas is the feast of the incarnation, the time when God is literally most human.

Hope, on the other hand, is the neglected middle child of the virtues, neither the heroic virtue of faith that overcomes all doubts, nor the easily sentimentalized virtue of love about which songs are sung that make us feel all warm inside. In the words of John Lennon’s Beatles tune: “All you need is love. Love is all you really need.” So also, Advent is that season with which we often don’t quite know what to do. Advent is sort of latched onto Christmas by default. Advent is the season of Hope because it is the season of anticipation. During Advent, we anticipate the season of Christmas in which God comes among us as the infant in Mary’s arms. But let’s face it. Advent wreaths are nice; they can’t compare to Christmas trees. (more…)

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