in his recent speech to diocesan Synod, Bishop Smith (who has recently dumped a fatihful minister and vestry because they dared tell him he was wrong) says this…
“I remember the two things Jesus prayed for for his followers the night before he was crucified: truth and unity.
Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, so that they also may be sanctified in truth. (And then …) “I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, † so that the world may believe that you have sent me. (John 17)
Truth and unity – indeed our two challenges! “So that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Jesus prayed because he knew, and knows, us well.
A friend from another Christian body, said to me, “You know, we both have the Word, Scripture. We have the same issues and arguments as you Episcopalians do about sexuality and the Bible. And they tear at us too. But you have the altar; and when you disagree you can gather in the sacrament of communion that brings you together. We don’t have that in the way that you do,” he said.”
Friends, we need to keep reminding ourselves that this is central to how ECUSA works. Just ignore all our differences, let’s celebrate the Eucharist together. Smith doesn’t actually address how we can be united in truth except that implicit in his statement is that, somehow, the sacrament of the Eucharist is truth. Well, let’s see if he’s right.
Anglican Article XXVIII. Of the Lord’s Supper.
The Supper of the Lord is not only a sign of the love that Christians ought to have among themselves one to another, but rather it is a Sacrament of our Redemption by Christ’s death: insomuch that to such as rightly, worthily, and with faith, receive the same, the Bread which we break is a partaking of the Body of Christ; and likewise the Cup of Blessing is a partaking of the Blood of Christ.
So, the Lord’s Supper is not just a sign of the love that we ought to have amongst one to another (a love that is sadly lacking in Smith’s recent actions) but also a Sacrament of our Redemption in Christ’s death. In case we’re unsure on what that means, the Articles go on to clarify:
XXXI. Of the one Oblation of Christ finished upon the Cross.
The Offering of Christ once made is that perfect redemption, propitiation, and satisfaction, for all the sins of the whole world, both original and actual; and there is none other satisfaction for sin, but that alone. Wherefore the sacrifices of Masses, in the which it was commonly said, that the Priest did offer Christ for the quick and the dead, to have remission of pain or guilt, were blasphemous fables, and dangerous deceits.
That’s what we celebrate in the Lord’s Supper. The problem for Smith is that he (like so many in the leadership of ECUSA) wants the unity of the Eucharist but not the truth that the Eucharist declares to us, the one perfect oblation of Christ where he is redemption, propitiation and satisfaction – in other words Penal Substitution viz. God is very very angry at sin but sends Christ to suffer His wrath on our behalf.
He understands Anglicanism. Some of us, though, choose to let differences in belief – knowledge, as Paul wrote, which we know in part – to keep us apart at the Table, to divide us from one another and from the sacramental healing forgiving presence of Christ in the Eucharist. We throw away our heritage. It is a sadness almost too great to comprehend.”
Only one person is throwing away our heritage when they want to divorce the Eucharist from the truth that it unites us it. There is no other Christian unity, there is no other basis for our love one for another, than the Penal Substitution, the propitation, of Christ which the Eucharist is pointing to (or, more accurately, giving thanks for). Our love cannot be manufactured any other way or on any other basis, certainly not by meeting around a table (not an altar) to remember something but without establishing what that something is.
On the contrary…
1 John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9 In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.