Last week I wrote to you about the influence of the monastic tradition on the Anglican and Episcopal church. This week I want to talk about how we grow up in faith.
Every denomination of the church could be seen as a tradition or method of discipleship, offering a way of following Jesus. In the Episcopal church we offer a method that we inherited from the English and Scottish churches. We pray Morning and Evening Prayer, gather weekly for communion, and we read and study our Bibles, reading devotionally.
In the last couple of decades the attention of the church has sometimes been distracted away from this core to current issues and survival as the age of Christendom, the dominance of the church in social and political life of the West, has really ended. But, our real vocation as a church is found in our following Jesus, making disciples, teaching them to obey what he commanded, and baptizing them in the name of the Trinity. see Matthew 28
Our method is codified in the Book of Common Prayer, which equips every member of the church to be a full participant in the disciplined life. The commitment to the church is to be growing in our following of Jesus.
What does maturity in all this look like? A regular life of prayer and regular attendance in church, sure. A familiarity with the Bible is expected over time. But the real place where maturity shows itself is in the grace we show in our daily life and the presence of Christ that shines through us as we abide in his presence.
All our methods and practices are just workouts and the diet of health. All of us, whether Episcopal or Lutheran or Catholic or Baptist, are disciples of Jesus who seek to bring his presence and grace, forgiveness, and healing to the world.
But you cannot show up with no practice at the time of crisis and expect to succeed at being mature on a regular basis. You may pull it off once or twice, but to experience that long time peace and ease, you have to put in the time.
As Episcopal Christians we put in our time praying and reading and breaking bread together, so that we are ready to love wildly and with maturity in times of need.