Archive for June, 2011

July Prayer Walk

Our monthly prayer walk is Saturday, 2 July, at 9 am. Meet at the Gazebo.

Prayer walks are monthly on the first Saturday of the month. For more information, contact Jeff Brown.


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The Anglican Way: The Organic Episcopate

by Fr. Jonathan
June 19, 2011

One of the clearest differences between Anglicanism and other Protestant traditions is that we have retained the pattern of ordained ministry handed down from the early Church. The preface to the ordinal of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer states, “It is evident unto all men, diligently reading holy scripture and ancient Authors, that from the Apostles’ time there have been these orders of Ministers in Christ’s Church; Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.”

The Anglican Communion retains these orders, just as the Roman Catholic Church and the various Orthodox Churches have retained them, and yet we live them out in a very different way. The Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral tells us that one of the signs of the true Church is the presence of “the Historic Episcopate, locally adapted in the methods of its administration to the varying needs of the nations and people called by God into the Unity of his Church.” The way that bishops, priests, and deacons carry out their ministries can and must be adapted to deal with different realities in different places. The way that a bishop operates in twenty-first century Kenya should not be exactly the same as the way that a bishop operated in nineteenth century England.

It’s hard to parse out exactly what this means, because I’m speaking here about something that has arisen within Anglicanism organically, through the practice of our faith, rather than something which finds its roots in a doctrinal formulation. On paper, a bishop in one place ought to be seen exactly the same as a bishop in another. Our orders are meant to be interchangeable. If I left America and went to England, I might have to go through a licensing procedure to act as a priest there, but I would not be re-ordained. For bishops, this is even more crucial, since bishops are consecrated to be guardians of the faith for the whole Church, not just for an individual diocese or province. And yet, differences remain that are far more than merely linguistic or cultural variations. There is a uniqueness to being an Anglican bishop in Japan or in Canada or in Argentina that is simply not transferable from one place to the next, nor should it be. The sacramental integrity of the bishop and his job as guardian of the faith is the same everywhere, but the way that this ministry is carried out evolves from within the gathered community.

Two Different Bishops in Two Very Different Places

Allow me a brief anecdotal example. I had a conversation a couple of years ago with an American bishop who had just returned from the 2008 Lambeth Conference. It had been his first time at such an international gathering and he was truly astonished by what he learned there in conversation with other bishops. He told me about a bishop in his small group whose diocese was spread out across a series of small islands off the coast of Africa. This African bishop has a small boat which he paddles from island to island. His diocese is spread out further geographically than his American counterpart’s and it has many more parishes. Nevertheless, this African bishop makes it a point of visiting each parish at least once a month. This was astonishing and humbling to the American bishop who is only required to visit all of his parishes once every three years. But in this particular African bishop’s context, to do any less would be a great shirking of responsibility, because the bishop’s role there is to be a sort of father figure who acts in each parish as the patriarch of an extended family. Not visiting often would be akin to abandoning one’s children.

From this example, a number of inappropriate generalizations might be drawn. Some people may criticize the African system for putting so much authority in the bishop’s hands and thereby infantilizing the laity and even the priests and deacons. Others may aim their criticism at the American system for turning our bishops into bureaucrats who are so bogged down in administrative tasks that they lack the time and discipline to be effective pastors. But if we suspend judgment and assume the best about both cultures, what we find are two different models of the episcopate that simply cannot be traded. The American bishop would obviously be lost in the African’s context, not only because of the strain of sorting out his role in a vast web of interpersonal connections with his people, but because of the numerous sacrifices additionally required in his personal and family life, not to mention the physical strain of so much daily travel. On the other hand, speaking as an American priest, while I would prefer that our bishops be given the space to be more intentional pastors than they are able to be currently, I cannot say that I would want the standard to become an episcopal visit every couple of weeks. That kind of constant oversight, seen in the African’s context as a sign of familial love, would quickly be seen as micro-managing here. The work of the bishop is very different in these two places because the places themselves are very different.

Adaptability Versus Imperialism

The ordained ministry in Anglicanism has been allowed to adapt to its surroundings, for better or for worse. Obviously, in some instances, that adaptability has led to bishops and other clergy who have privileged the culture above the gospel itself, resulting in the unraveling of local churches. Yet, in places where the priority of the gospel has not been lost, the adaptability of our ministry to local needs and circumstances has helped to propel Anglicanism from a mono-cultural British Christianity into a global faith. The sixteenth century Anglican Reformers could hardly have imagined that there would one day be Christians all over the world calling themselves Anglican. It is easy, in the midst of the current season of crisis in the Anglican Communion, to forget how truly remarkable it is that Anglicanism has spread so far and wide.

The common story behind Anglicanism’s meteoric spread around the globe is that it was accomplished almost entirely through British imperialism. As the British conquered various places around the world, they brought their churches with them. Eventually, missionary societies sprung up which sent out workers throughout the vast British Empire to bring British religion and no small amount of British culture to the native peoples of each colony. This story has been told in detail in a number of places, so I won’t belabor the point here. But what I would like to suggest is that while imperialism may have been the tool through which Anglicanism initially spread, Anglicanism’s ongoing success and endurance had little to do with it. Rather, the adaptability of Anglicanism is a much more potent factor in Anglicanism’s viability. And that adaptability stands directly contrary to imperialism. While the influence of imperialism upon missionary activity was to try to pair Christianity as closely as possible with being European, white, and thus civilized, the Anglicanism that blossomed over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries into what we have today is instead indigenous, independent, and ethnically diverse. So the adaptability that we see in the episcopate cannot be the product of imperialism. It has to be something that springs forth from Anglicanism itself.

Reformation Roots

I would argue that the seeds of Anglican adaptability can be found even in the earliest days of the Anglican Reformation. The political reality that made the Reformation possible was the pope’s refusal to annul the marriage of King Henry VIII to Catherine of Aragon, an annulment that had been ruled valid by the bishops of the local church. However, the theological issue at play was the right of the local church to be in charge of its own affairs, in so much as the local church does not seek to change the content of the faith once delivered to the saints. Whether or not the local bishops made the right call in allowing for Henry’s annulment, allowing such an annulment to take place certainly does not rise to the level of a serious departure from the faith in which outside bishops would be compelled to act. As the original version of Article XXXVII states, “The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.” Thus, the Anglican Reformers opted for a view of the Church in which each people, secure within their own borders and having their own ecclesiastical hierarchy, may govern their own church as they see fit. In England, this led to a particularly strong ecclesiastical role for the monarchy, which we will explore a little bit in a later post in this series. But once Anglicanism spread outside of England, the reference back to the crown was severed and other national churches emerged. It is in the DNA of Anglicanism that particular, national churches will have their own structures, their own governance, and their own approach to sharing the gospel with their own people.

The Fruit of National Churches

The impulse in Anglicanism towards particular, national churches has meant that the culture of those churches has largely filtered from the bottom up, despite the efforts of imperialism to impose structures from the outside. While a certain Englishness can be seen throughout the Communion in things like the wearing of purple by bishops and the use of Cranmerian language in worship, the granting of autonomy in each province has made the movement towards more and more indigenous expression inescapable. Churches have made their own translations of the Book of Common Prayer that have become less literal and more inclusive of colloquialism as the years have gone by. New monastic orders have sprung up, such as the Melanesian Brotherhood, which have adapted traditional religious vows to use in new contexts. Local rituals and traditions have found their way into Anglican liturgy. And, of course, there have been varied approaches taken to the way in which clergy serve the people of their parishes and dioceses.

From the outside, all of this might look a bit messy. Yet it speaks to Anglicanism’s strength that the tradition is not just an export of western culture but a true and lively expression of the gospel that can speak to different communities in different ways while maintaining the unity of the faith. What Anglicanism struggles with today is finding a way to balance the needs of the local culture with the universal nature of the faith we proclaim.

Finding the way through that, however, will require us not to simply make up new structures (though such structures may become necessary), but to reach back into our own history and find the seeds already laid by our forefathers in faith that are primed to grow into the fruit of conciliarity if we allow them to do so. We can be conciliar, just as the early Church was, without losing our characteristic adaptability. We can be the Body of Christ through rich, deep sacramental bonds that are rooted in the biblical witness and the shared norms of our tradition rather than through some sort of institutional alchemy. The key is not to look at something like holy orders as simply a mechanism for church governance, but to see it for what it is, an organic expression of both the universality and the particularity of the gospel.


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Family prayer will be at the Greg Herman house, 3985 Cozycroft Dr. at 7 p.m.

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There is a home swim meet tonight at the Forest Ridge Pool, Tuesday, June 28th. The meet starts at 6 p.m. and will continue til about 9:00 – come and cheer on the Fighting Fish! Enjoy hamburgers and hot dogs hot off the grill, fruit, veggies, baked goods and candy from our concession stand. The pool is at 6801 Union Schoolhouse Rd, near the corner of Valley Street and Union Schoolhouse Road.

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Dear brothers and sisters of Christ our Hope:

The beginning of ALPHA is not far off.  For the success of this ministry, it is imperative that we have as many in the parish volunteer as possible.  The following are a list of ministry positions that need to be filled.  If you would like to volunteer, please contact Mr. Jeff Brown as soon as possible.  We will begin to assign volunteers to appropriate ministry positions (with your approval, of course).  Your joyful willingness is most certainly appreciated.

Fr. Greg

Intercessory Prayer Team Leader

Task Force Coordinator (we could come up with a different name for this, but this is the person who makes sure the rooms are set up, the meals are prepared, arranges for greeters, book table, etc.  There is a full job description, but I’ll get that up on the blog.  This person is responsible for building the Task Force Team.)
– Dinner Coordinator
-Task Force Members

Weekend Away Coordinator (Procures the place, gets meals arranged, figures out cost, etc.)

Small Group Coordinator (senior small group leader).
-Small Group Leaders & Helpers

Worship Leader (probably Rosanne or me)
-Worship Team

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The follow is a great article written by a good friend of mine, Fr. Victor Novak.  He is a priest of the Diocese of Mid-America of the Reformed Episcopal Church/Anglican Church in North America.  This is one of the best pieces I’ve seen written that answers many questions the faithful have regarding the Eucharist.

Fr. Greg



by the Reverend Victor E. Novak
Special to virtueonline.org
June 25, 2011

“How I hate this folly of not believing in the Eucharist. If the Gospel be true, if Jesus Christ be God, what difficulty is there?” – Blaise Pascal

Dom Gregory Dix, the great 20th century Anglican Benedictine scholar wrote, “At the heart of Christianity is the Eucharist, a thing of absolute simplicity – the taking, blessing, breaking and giving of bread and the taking, blessing and giving of a cup of wine and water as these were done with their new meaning by a young Jew before and after supper with His friends on the night before He died. He had told His friends to do this henceforward with the new meaning for the recalling of Him, and they have done it always since.”Was ever another command so obeyed? For century after century, spreading slowly to every continent and country and among every race on earth, this action has done, in every conceivable human circumstance, for every conceivable need, from infancy and before to extreme old age and after it, from the pinnacles of earthly greatness to the refugees in the caves and dens of the earth.

Men have found no better thing than this to do for kings at their crowning and for criminals going to the scaffold; for armies in triumph or for a bride and a bridegroom in a little country church; for the proclamation of a dogma or for a crop of good wheat; for the wisdom of the Parliament of a mighty nation or for a sick old woman afraid to die; for a schoolboy sitting an examination or for Columbus out to discover America…

“And best of all, week by week and month by month, on a hundred thousand successive Sundays, faithfully, unfailingly, across all the parishes of Christendom, the pastors have done this…”


The word Eucharist comes from the Greek and means Thanksgiving. The Lord’s Supper is often called the Holy Eucharist because when Christ instituted it He gave thanks, “For I [the Apostle Paul] have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner he took the cup…” (I Cor. 11:23-25). Today this Service instituted by our Lord Himself, is the chief means by which His people offer thanks to God for the saving work of Christ upon the cross, for His continued presence among them (Matt. 28:20), and for the promise of His Second Coming.


Following the example of the Apostles and early Christians, the family of God has assembled on the Lord’s Day week after week for nearly 2,000 years for the breaking of bread (the Holy Eucharist) and for prayer. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in the breaking of bread, and in the prayers” (Acts 2:42). The Lord’s people, in the Lord’s House, on the Lord’s Day, to partake of the Lord’s Supper.


The Holy Eucharist is the principal act of Christian worship as it is the one Service instituted by Christ Himself. Jews, Muslims and others have prayer, readings, hymns and sermons, but only Christians celebrate the Eucharist. This Service is called by various names in the Bible and by Christians: The Holy Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, the Holy Communion, the Breaking of Bread, the Mass (from the Latin), the Todah (Hebrew), the Divine Liturgy and the Divine Service.

The ancient rabbis had taught that when the Messiah came all of the sacrifices would be done away with except the Todah, the Thank Offering. And they were right. While Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for the sins of the world brought the sacrificial system to a close, the Thank Offering, the Holy Eucharist, remains – “For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come” (I Cor. 11:26).


The Sacrament received by the faithful (the consecrated Bread and Wine) is called Holy Communion. In this Sacrament the true Body and Blood of Christ are received. At the Last Supper the Lord Jesus said, “This is my body” and “This is my blood”, not “This represents my body” or “This is a symbol of my body.”

Jesus took bread, blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matt. 26:26-28).

Jesus said, “I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever” (John 6:48-58).

Just like today, many of the disciples who heard these words would not accept them. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?” (John 6:60). Yet Jesus did not take His words back, or explain that they were only meant to be taken “symbolically.” And just like today, “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him” (John 6:66).

The Apostles and early Christians understood that Christ meant his words to be taken literally. The Sacrament of Holy Communion not only represents the Body and Blood of Christ, but presents the Body and Blood of Christ. The Body and Blood of Christ is given, taken and eaten in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

The Apostle Paul wrote, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?” (I Cor. 10:16). Because Christ is really present in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, St. Paul goes on to warn, “Wherefore whosoever shall eat of this bread and drink of this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (I Cor. 11:27-29).

The early Church believed in the “Real Presence” of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and so did all Christians everywhere for some 1,500 years until the 16th century. Today, three out of every four Christians world-wide belong to Churches that teach the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.

The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, commonly known as the Didache (c. AD 40-70), a very early Church Manual from the Middle East says, “Thou (God) gavest food and drink to men for enjoyment, that they might give thanks to Thee; but to us Thou didst freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Thy Servant [Jesus Christ].”

St. Ignatius, an early Church Father, lived from AD 30 to 107. He was Bishop of Antioch, and was martyred for his faith. He and St. Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, who was also a martyr, were fellow-disciples under the Apostle John. While awaiting martyrdom he wrote a number of epistles (letters) to various churches. To the Church in Ephesus he wrote, “obey the bishop and presbytery with an undivided mind, breaking one and the same bread, which is the medicine of immortality, and the antidote to prevent us from dying, but that we should live forever in Jesus Christ” (Epistle to the Ephesians, c. AD 105).

In his Epistle to the Romans, (c. AD 105), St. Ignatius of Antioch wrote, “I desire the bread of God, the heavenly bread, the bread of life, which is the flesh of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who became afterwards the seed of David and Abraham; and I desire the drink of God, namely His blood, which is incorruptible love and eternal life.”

In his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans. (c. AD 105), he warned of the Gnostics of his day who denied the doctrine of the Real Presence. His warning is just as valid today. He wrote, “They [the Gnostics] abstain from the Eucharist and from prayer, because they confess not the Eucharist to be the flesh of our Saviour Jesus Christ, which suffered for our sins, and which the Father, of His goodness, raised up again. Those, therefore, who speak against this gift of God, incur death.”

St. Justin Martyr (AD 100-165) wrote, “And this food is called among us the Eucharist, of which no one is allowed to partake but the man who believes that the things we teach are true, and who has been washed with the washing that is for the remission of sins, and unto regeneration, and is so living as Christ has enjoined. For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh by the Word of God, had both flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh” (First Apology).

St. Irenaeus (AD 120-202) was pupil of St. Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John. Later he became the Bishop of Lyons in Celtic Gaul (modern France). His great work Against Heresies was written between AD 182 and AD 188. In refuting the Gnostic heretics of his day, he wrote, “But our opinion is in accordance with the Eucharist, and the Eucharist in turn establishes our opinion. For we offer to Him His own, announcing consistently the fellowship and union of the flesh and spirit. For as the bread, which is produced from the earth, when it receives the invocation of God, is no longer common bread, but the Eucharist, consisting of two realities, earthly and heavenly; so also our bodies, when they receive the Eucharist, are no longer corruptible, having the hope of the resurrection to eternity” (Against Heresies).

St. Athanasius of Alexandria (AD 295-373), the great champion of the Orthodox Faith during the Arian crisis said, “But when the great and wondrous prayers have been recited, then the bread becomes the body and the cup the blood of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Sermon to the Baptized).

St. Cyril was an early Bishop of Jerusalem, the Mother Church of Christendom. Around the year AD 350 he delivered introductory lectures to his classes of catechumens. Regarding the Eucharist he said, “The bread and wine of the Eucharist, before the invocation of the holy and adorable Trinity, were simple bread and wine; but, after the invocation, the bread becomes the body of Christ and the wine becomes the blood of Christ” (Mystagogical Lecture 1.7).

St. John Chrysostom was the Archbishop of Constantinople, modern-day Istanbul, Turkey. He was born between AD 344 and 354 and died in AD 407. Some Christians say that St. John Chrysostom is unparalleled among the Fathers, while others believe that he was only equaled by St. Augustine of Hippo. Speaking of the Eucharist, St. John Chrysostom said, “When the word says, ‘This is My Body,’ be convinced of it and believe it, and look at it with the eyes of the mind” (Homilies on the Gospel of Matthew, AD 370).

St. John Chrysostom says that the bread, “when once Divine Grace has, through the intervention of the priest, sanctified it, is worthy to be called the Lord’s Body, although the nature of bread remains” (Epis. ad. Caes).

St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430), was the greatest theologian that Western Christendom has ever produced. St. Augustine taught the doctrine of the Real Presence clearly and simply. He said, “I am mindful of my promise. For I promised you, who have now been baptized, a sermon in which I would explain the Sacrament of the Lord’s Table, which you now look upon and of which you last night were made participants. You ought to know what you have received, what you are going to receive, and what you ought to receive daily. That bread which you see on the altar, having been sanctified by the word of God, is the Body of Christ. That chalice, or rather, what is in that chalice, having been sanctified by the word God, is the Blood of Christ. Through that bread and wine the Lord Christ willed to commend his Body and Blood, which He poured out for us unto the forgiveness of sins” (Sermons).

Gelasius, Bishop of Rome (AD 492), taught, “The grace of the Body and Blood of Christ which we receive is a divine thing, wherefore also we are by the same made partakers of the Divine nature; and yet the substance and nature of bread and wine ceaseth not to be” (De daub. Christi naturis).

The Reformers all agreed with the Scriptures and the Fathers of the Church in believing in the doctrine of the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. The first major religious leader to dissent from the historic doctrine was Ulrich Zwingli; and Luther reacted strongly against him and refused to be in communion with him or his followers. According to Zwingli, the Eucharist is a bare sign, a mere memorial. Rather than the Real Presence, he taught what amounts to be the real absence of Christ in the sacrament. Unfortunately, modern evangelical Christianity and most of modern protestantism long ago embraced Zwinglian sacramental theology. With such a theology they cannot be in any way heirs of the primitive Church or the Reformers.

John Wycliffe, the “Morning Star of the Reformation,” said that the change that occurs in the Eucharist, “effects the presence of the body of Christ…Not that the bread is destroyed, but that it signifies the body of the Lord there present in the sacrament” (De Eucharistia).

Jan Huss, the great Bohemian Reformer of the 15th century believed likewise. He said, “The humble priest doth not…say that he is the creator of Christ, but that the Lord Christ by His power and word, through him, causes that which is bread to be His body, not that at that time it began to be His, but that there on the altar begins to be sacramentally in the form of the bread what previously was not there and therein.”

Jan Huss was a faithful Catholic priest who was martyred by the Roman authorities for trying to restore communion in both kinds to the laity. As late as AD 1095 the Council of Clermont, under the presidency of Urban II, Bishop of Rome, decreed that “no one shall communicate at the altar, without receiving the Body and the Blood separately and alike, unless by urgent necessity and for caution.” The withdrawal of the chalice from the laity and Communion in one kind only began in the 12th century, although in the 13th century St. Thomas Aquinas speaks of the primitive practice lingering in some places. Communion in one kind did not become the general practice in the Britain until after the burning of Huss at the Council of Constance (AD 1415), which decreed it. This error was of short duration in Britain as the chalice was restored to the laity by a unanimous act of Convocation on December 2, 1547.

Martin Luther, who launched the Reformation in AD 1517, firmly believed in the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion. In his famous and still popular Small Catechism, Luther wrote, “What is the Sacrament of the Altar? It is the true Body and Blood of Christ, under the bread and wine.”

John Calvin concurred. In his Short Treatise on the Holy Supper Calvin wrote, “It is a spiritual mystery which cannot be seen by the eye nor be comprehended by human understanding. Therefore it is represented for us by means of visible signs, according to the need of our weakness. Nevertheless, it is not a naked figure, but one joined to its truth and substance. With good reason then, the bread is called body, because it not only represents, but also presents it.”

When people describe mere memorialism as Calvinism they are mistaken. It was Zwingli, not Calvin, who taught mere memorialism: that the Sacrament of Holy Communion is merely a sign or symbol. Unfortunately, most Reformed theologians and denominations embraced Zwinglian sacramental theology long ago, and that is why Zwinglian sacramental theology is often described as Calvinism today.

In the Catechism of the historic American Book of Common Prayer is presented the Anglican understanding of the Sacrament of Holy Communion:

“Question. What is the outward part or sign of the Lord’s Supper?

Answer. Bread and Wine, which the Lord hath commanded to be received.

Question. What is the inward part, or thing signified?

Answer. The Body and Blood of Christ, which are spiritually taken and received by the faithful in the Lord’s Supper.”

Queen Elizabeth I, gave testimony of her faith in the words of this short poem:

“He was the word that spake it, He took the bread and break it; And what his word did make it, That I believe and take it.”


The Eucharist is both a sacrament and a sacrifice. While Christians do not re-sacrifice Christ or sacrifice Him anew on the altar, the Eucharist is a commemorative sacrifice in that Christians re-plead the one sacrifice of Himself that Christ offered upon the cross. It is also a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving (Greek: Eucharist), an offering of bread and wine, souls and bodies, tithes and offerings to God through Christ the great High Priest.

Long ago in the second century, St. Irenaeus of Lyons wrote, “Again, giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of his own created things – not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful – He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, ‘This is my body.’ And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand: ‘I have no pleasure in you, saith the LORD Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the Gentiles, saith the LORD Omnipotent’ [Malachi 1:10-11] – indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles” (Against Heresies).

Malachi 1:11 is a prophecy of worship under the New Covenant. It reads, “From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place [no longer just in the Jerusalem Temple] incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.” All of the Church Fathers who quote this prophecy apply it to the Holy Eucharist; and overwhelmingly the prophecy most often applied to the Eucharist by the Church Fathers was this one from Malachi.


From the very beginning of Christianity only an apostle, a bishop who is a successor of the apostles, or a presbyter (priest) ordained by such, may properly offer the Holy Eucharist. In his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans (c. AD 105), St. Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote, “See that ye follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he entrusted it [a presbyter]. Wherever the bishop shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church.”


Yes. The Holy Eucharist has ever only been offered by a bishop or presbyter (priest), often with a deacon and other ministers (readers and acolytes) assisting. It has always been celebrated with great reverence, often with incense as foretold by the prophet Malachi.

Reverence for the Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ extended to the Holy Table, the altar, and to the chalice and paten (plate), and other articles used in the Eucharistic Liturgy. Tertulian (c. AD 160-230) describes chalices decorated with images of Christ (On Modesty); and in AD 303, during the Roman persecution of Christianity and ten years before Constantine’s edict of toleration, a Roman court in North Africa recorded the items seized from a house-church. The confiscated items included two golden chalices, six silver chalices, six silver dishes, a silver bowl, seven silver lamps, two torches, seven short bronze lampstands with their lamps, and eleven bronze lamps on chains.

A century later, St. Jerome, the great Bible Scholar who translated the Holy Scriptures from Hebrew and Greek into Latin, the language of the Western Roman Empire of his day, wrote of the need “to instruct by authority of Scripture ignorant people in all the churches concerning the reverence with which they must handle holy things and minister at Christ’s altar; and to impress upon them that the sacred chalices, veils, and other accessories used in the celebration of the Lord’s passion are not mere lifeless and senseless objects devoid of holiness, but that rather, from their association with the body and blood of the Lord, they are to be venerated with the same awe as the body and blood themselves” (Letter 114.2).

From its very institution by Christ on the night of the Last Supper, Christians have believed that the Sacrament of the Altar, Holy Communion, is the very Body and Blood of Christ. For some 1,500 years this was the belief of all Christians East and West. This was also the belief of the Reformers of the 16th century. It was not until Zwingli that some began to dissent from the universally held belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, and Zwingli and his followers were condemned by Luther in the strongest terms. Those Christians of today who consider the Lord’s Supper to be a mere memorial, that the bread and wine (grape juice?) are merely symbols representing Christ’s broken body and shed blood reminding believers of His death on the cross nearly 2,000 years ago, are dangerously out of step with the clear teachings of Christ, the apostles, and with the teachings of historic Christianity. When the Lord Jesus said, “This is My Body” and “This is My Blood,” He meant just what He said. Dr. E.B. Pusey summed up the doctrine of the Real Presence when he said, “It is truly flesh and blood, and these received into us cause that we are in Christ and Christ in us.”


Baptized Christians who have been admitted to Communion, and who:

1. Are repentant; steadfastly purposing to lead a new life, having a living faith in God’s mercy through Christ; and being in charity with all men.
2. Believe in the Real Presence of Christ in the Sacrament of Holy Communion.
3. Are spiritually prepared to receive the Blessed Sacrament. According to the historic practice of the Church, the Sacrament of Holy Communion should be received fasting.

C. 2011, by Rev. Victor E. Novak.

—-Fr. V. E. Novak is a priest of the Diocese of Mid-America of the Reformed Episcopal Church/Anglican Church in North America, and the rector of Holy Cross Anglican Church in Omaha, Nebraska. His parish website can be found at www.holycrossomaha.net. Fr. Novak can be reached by phone at (402) 573-6558 or by e-mail: venovak@hughes.net

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Update from Dorathea

After being in labor for over 24 hours, my granddaughter (Janet Adducchio’s daughter) gave birth to Wyatt Joseph Baird at 7:36 p.m. tonight. He was delivered by C-section because of complications that both he and my granddaughter had, but both are doing well (she’s tired!). Janet is higher than a kite. He weighed 7 lb 6 oz, was 21″ long, has blond curly hair and is beautiful. What baby isn’t?! I must admit that I, too, am a very happy great-grandma!

Janet is still undergoing chemo; despite the grim reality facing her, she hasn’t accepted death yet. We’re going up (Wilson Memorial Hospital in Sidney) tomorrow and we’ll be sure to get a four generation picture. Since I was the oldest generation at 24, you know that God has blessed our family greatly by this most recent arrival.

Thanks to everyone who has kept Janet and our family in your prayers. Prayer has kept me uplifted when at times I have felt sad or overwhelmed. I love each of you, my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dorathea Fortener

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