“Why I am an Anglican..."
Check out the essays on "Why I Am an Anglican" series at the Anglican District of the Northeast website. The latest is by
Fr. Tony Seel.
Also at the website posted a few weeks ago:
THE WEDDING IS OVER; THE MARRIAGE BEGINS
By Bishop Dave Bena
Well, it happened. Our youngest daughter, Sarah, was married this past Saturday to a fine young Christian gentleman, Matthew Unright. I was privileged to officiate at their wedding. And a beautiful wedding it was. Since Sarah is a graduate of Roberts Wesleyan College where MANY of her friends were music majors, and since Matt used to play lead guitar in a band, we had LOADS of special music at both the wedding and the reception. It was truly beautiful. On Saturday night when it was all over, Mary Ellen and I sat on the couch reflecting on what a great day it had been and what a nice married couple Matt and Sarah made. Almost offhandedly, I commented, "Well the wedding is over and now the marriage begins."
I've been thinking about that statement since Saturday night. This young and innocent couple will now begin to learn what it really means to be fully committed to a spouse. They'll learn that along with the pleasure and fun of being lovers and friends, they will also learn the meaning of sacrificing for another. It won't always be easy or fun. And sometimes it will be downright burdensome. But those two are in it for the long haul and have invited Jesus to be the center of their marriage. They'll make it fine.
Which leads me to think about our relationship with Christ and His Church. In a sense we were all wedded to Jesus when we received Him into our hearts. And now we are living out the marriage in the context of our parish families. The sense of excitement of being in a relationship with the Creator of all there is; the sense of acceptance by our brothers and sisters in the parish these will carry us a long way through our earthly pilgrimage. But there are so many bumps in the road, arent there? When I seriously received Jesus at the age of twenty-four, I walked around as if I was in a protective bubble with my friend Jesus (this in the middle of dropping bombs on trucks and having mortars dropping on me!). Nothing would separate us. I felt that same closeness with my parish brothers and sisters when I returned from the war. We were united in Christ.
It was only later that I realized that I was romanticizing the whole thing. Jesus was walking beside me alright. BUT HE WALKED AWFULLY FAST. And I had a hard time keeping in step with His way. Too many bad habits and selfish desires kept creeping in and suffocating the relationship. I also found that the parish was not all I had fantasized. Those people had feelings and they hurt each others feelings. And they argued about things like candles and turf and the lousy pastor. Every so often, a few would try a power play and end up leaving the parish, taking as many people with them as they could. I asked myself, Do I really want to be ordained with all this junk going on?
Eventually I learned that sin still exists, even in a parish community, even in me! And the life I lived, walking beside Jesus, caring for His people, was going to take sacrifice, sacrificing my own time and feelings. I learned that ministry with Jesus and for Jesus does not work when I see it as a ministry of convenience, as in I'll get to it when I have done everything else I want to do. I am learning about what it means to be married to Jesus, and to live out that marriage in the Christian community.
Which brings me to the Anglican District of the Northeast. We are ten parishes working together in mission and ministry, praying for one another, getting to know one another as extended family. As we move together along the Way with Jesus, lets enjoy the excitement of starting something new (the ADN), but lets recognize the sacrifice we will have to make as we move together introducing people to Jesus and our parishes and our District.
Sarah and Matt get home from their honeymoon Saturday. Sunday, they'll start the marriage, centered in Jesus. They'll do fine. So will the Anglican District of the Northeast, centered in Jesus. We'll do fine.