After the consecration, the priest says, “The gifts of God for the people of God, take them in remembrance that Christ died for you and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.”
That was part of the genius of Elizabeth. Do you hear it? Listen to it again: “The GIFTS of God, for the people of God.” Jesus is the ‘gift of God’ and we are reminded that we are ‘God’s people’.
And then, the priest says, “Feed on him (Jesus). In your HEARTS. By FAITH.”
See? Not exactly Transubstantiation. Not exactly Consubstantiation. Do you hear it? It’s the Good Anglican way of not either/or, but rather, both/and. And, always, always, always, with thanksgiving.
That’s known as the Via Media – or, the “Middle Way” between Catholicism and Protestantism which was the genius of The Elizabethan Settlement. Draw a circle large enough so that everyone is included and no one is left out. Because, as Elizabeth says, it is, ultimately, a matter of faith, which is belief shaped and formed by the heart. (from Telling Secrets ~ Living Bread: Jonathan Daniels)
I have wondered, of late, what it is about the Episcopal Church that feels so much like "home" to me.
When I was LDS, I loved going to the temple, and it also felt like home whenever I went.
In my thoughtful pondering, I have come to the realization that I like having organized religion, I like the services, I like the community worship, I like hearing another person's thoughts on scriptural issues/stories, but I like to be free to have my own beliefs and feeling safe stating them, even if they aren't the traditional ideas. (At one point, I was talking to Peter about an LDS issue. He said that whatever I wanted to do was fine, but not to ask him to do it - he was teaching me Anglicanism - you are free to do and think as you please, just don't insist that others do the same.)
I loved the quote by Joseph Smith that said that he "[taught the members of the church] correct principles, and they govern themselves.” It is something that I highly value.
I love that we are taught about God every single Sunday. We read 4 passages from the Bible every week, and the Priest or Postulant gives a sermon on the Gospel reading. I love the order of worship. I love that everyone in the church worships together in a very organized, methodical way. I love the hymns. I love the Confession of Sins. And most of all, I love the Nicene Creed - it sums up in a short way exactly what I believe.
Lately I've been learning how to set up the altar for Eucharist services. It is a wonderful way to prepare my mind for what I'm really at church for. Afterward, to clean up the altar - and return the Gifts of God to the earth, knowing that they will give sustenance to the little animals that eat them - just seems right. Then the washing of the vessels and the washing of the linens helps me to reflect on the importance of those Gifts.
I have been taking part in a discussion group that talks about An Outline of the Faith, taken from the catechism in the back of the Book of Common Prayer. It has been very interesting!
There is a scripture in Proverbs that states, "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." It is true. In my home, my mother wasn't highly religious, but she was very spiritual. She talked about God as a benevilent parent who longs to help his child. A scary, wrathful, punishing God, or one who couldn't bear the presence of sin ( AKA: me ) was far from what I was taught. I was taught about the kind Jesus that wanted everyone to come to him, whether an adulterer, possessed of demons, or worst of all: a tax collector ;). I find that same God that I grew up with as I attend the Episcopal church - along with being reminded to seek & serve Christ in all persons - and I am so thankful.