Another blog, another airport!
This week has been a good week of teaching in Orlando at Reformed Theological Seminary, 1st Presebyterian Church, Northland Church and St Luke’s Episcopal Cathedral. The three of us from Wycliffe have been warmly received. I confess that it is a challenge getting one’s mind around the cultural differences, not just in terms of “2 nations dividing by a common language” (Mark Twain?), but also the differences in church culture. Northland is a congregation of about 10,000 in a fantastic new facility. The music and worship experience is very contemporary and high quality, although when we arrived 5 minutes after the start of the meeting one of the Pastors was reading a great section from John Calvin’s Institutes of Christian Religion!
I preached at both services at St Luke’s Cathedral where I was made very welcome and enjoyed the impressive music and choral tradition. I was also invited to teach the “Dean’s Hour” adult Sunday School Class on the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. I was able to tell the dramatic story of the martyrdom of Ridley, Latimer and Cramner on a spot less than a mile away from Wycliffe Hall in Oxford. These three men felt that the changes which were enshrined in the 1552 Prayer Book (substantially the same as 1662) were worth dying for: an unritualistic, Christ Centred liturgical service which focussed on the state of the heart of the person who received the bread and wine, rather than on the act of Consecration. I was given complete liberty to tell this story, but do wonder what the attendees thought about the subsequent service which literally did have “bells and smells” and seemed to have a liturgical approach to the sacrament rather at odds with the evangelical convictions to which the Cathedral holds.
But I guess the main lesson in all this is that we are all blind to our own cultural practices (whether that be Anglican, Presbyterian or Episcopalian), because we cannot clearly see the culture in which we live until we get outside of it. For that reason, these trips are immensely valuable, not least because of what my American friends are able to highlight about my own cultural short-sightedness. I particularly value, for all its weaknesses, the confidence and strength of the American Evangelical Church and their “can do” attitude which is immensely refreshing.