Corpus Christi and other thoughts

On Thursday I went to a fantastic Corpus Christi service in a neighbouring parish. I don’t think I’ve been to one since my Little St Mary’s days in Cambridge.
I was brought up in a very non sacramental tradition, non-conformist, and somehow I knew something to be missing for me but had never had the experiences or the teaching to put a label to it. When I went to college I started doing the church trail in Cambridge and explored the length of the candle in the C of E, discovering why I liked what I did and how God was speaking to me. I loved heartfelt liturgical worship, and more and more the Eucharist became more important to me. I didn’t and still don’t have a physical Real Presence theology, but the words of the hymn sum it up ” Thou art here, we ask not how”.
I am immensely grateful for the chances I’ve had to explore all this. I feel really privileged to be equally comfortable in a New Wine marquee with charismatic evangelicals as in an incense filled church with my Anglo Catholic friends. The Spirit is still the same Spirit 🙂 I joke sometimes that an ideal service is one where you can cross yourself and raise your hands in worship in the same meeting! Perhaps it’s not so much of a joke, and perhaps it’s not such a leap between the two either. The last weekend that I was in college I had several conversations about how both Anglo Catholic worship and Charismatic worship are experiential, they are rooted, both in the interface between something spiritual happening and something physical happening, whether that’s a sacrament or a physical expression of worship – and if a sacrament is as the old definition goes, and outward sign of invisible grace, then there is something sacramental too about physicality in worship, whatever your churchmanship. Perhaps?
I’m reading51B6N4c2QQL._SL500_AA240_ at the moment ( click for detail) and finding it absolutely fascinating. I’ve been trying to tell people round me that modern and relevant doesn’t have to mean ditching the old, and this book is confirming that.
anyway – back to the Corpus Christi service! I’d had a tough week, essay writing and dealing with ” stuff” and God met me in that service in an amazing way – a way that yes I’d still probably associate more with New Wine or a big evangelical church, not clouds of incense and beautiful liturgy, but I’m still learning you see…

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4 Responses to “Corpus Christi and other thoughts”

  1. Andrew Williams Says:

    I have long been interested in the intimate connection between diverse facets of Anglican spirituality. Proclaiming the good news of the gospel, seriously engaging with scripture and underlining the personal dimension to faith and inward conversion, which lie at the heart of Evangelicalism, all seem to be propelled, rather than impeded, by the focus on the corporate and corporeal (indeed sacramental) dimensions of Christian life that we see expressed perhaps particularly clearly in the Catholic tradition – and vice versa.
    Is the relationship between the two strands something to do with the interface between the unique and the universal, which the incarnation supremely embodies… both indispensable dimensions of God’s love? Certainly in the mature expressions of faith and worship that I have encountered within both evangelical and Anglocatholic traditions I have sensed enormous common ground and openness to the contributions each approach can bring to the other.
    I have often been struck for example how, despite all the variations in outward expression there are great similarities between how the bible is treated. The solemn Gospel procession in high mass looks, feels, and smells (when incense is used!) so different to the informality of an extended exegetical sermon in a low church setting but they both express deep reverence for scripture and an acknowledgement of its living power. And then the movement of the Holy Spirit: I’m not sure we need to be too concerned about the different terminologies involved (the Real Presence or whatever) – both Charismatic and Catholic spiritual traditions focus on the actual presence of God in worship (however that is defined). Movement, as an expression of enfleshed worship, is another area of surprising overlap between the two traditions (crossing oneself or waving ones hands in the air, despite their outward dissimilarity, both ritualise inner conviction).
    That is not to deny that there are real and sometimes thorny issues that we are all obliged to engage with, some of which can be difficult and challenging. But starting from a recognition of a shared core seems to be the best place from which to explore such questions. Anyway, it will be interesting to hear what Rowan Williams has to say on the matter at the forthcoming Affirming Catholicism event (http://www.affirmingcatholicism.org.uk/pages/default.asp?id=6&sID=80)!

  2. Andrew Williams Says:

    Sorry… meant to say before posting my comment above, what a great post from you Angi on Corpus Christi and the common ground between different spiritual traditions… really interesting and helpful and chimed a lot with things I’ve been thinking about. Thanks!

  3. fibrefairy Says:

    thanks andrew- I’m looking forward to the AffCath day too, should be fascinating.

  4. Good points made here Angi. Blog more on the book maybe?

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