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Why I am Anglican.

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For the majority of my life I have stayed at arm’s length and even cringed at the thought of affiliating myself with a religious denomination. Most of this stems from the nature of ministry I have been in and around during my many years working with and for various churches. Maybe it’s been the artist in me saying, “Don’t label me. I mean, I’m just following Jesus, man.”

Over the past several years there has been more and more gravity compelling me towards ancient practices rooted in the rich history of The Church. I’ve mentioned before that I have become fatigued with re-inventing the wheel week after week and expecting magical results some Sunday. Some of my friends have been forthcoming enough to address the fact that I may be coming off as a bit jaded and frustrated by the evangelical mega-church model. That may in fact be true, but I have realized something very significant in the process – there is a difference between running away from something and being compelled toward something.

With a membership estimated at around 80 million members the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Anglican Church has and always will have it’s tensions in many varieties, but that will be found in any human endeavor. For my family and I, we have a sense of coming home with Anglicanism.

We have many friends supporting us and many even curious at what is to come, and there are many things stirring in our community, city, and region. Sacramental hunger lies within most of us, though it may reveal itself to us in different ways. We are wired to be experiential.

In the liturgical space, everything becomes meaningful. In the offering up of the bread and wine, we see the offering up of the wheat and grain and fruits of the earth, and God gives them back in a sanctified form. We’re thirsty for meaning that goes deeper than a 30 minute concert and a 45 minute motivational speech.

With the work of LUMINOUSproject picking up in some respects, we see the potential in some beautiful partnerships with the Anglican Church and other liturgical communities. If any of you have ever been with us for a LUMINOUS gathering, you know that it is liturgical in some nature. Here, we tend to lean into our ache for sacramentality. Each year, there have been some liturgical conversations and practices, especially with Holy Eucharist. LUMINOUS seems to serve as an on-ramp for those curious about liturgical worship, formation, and it’s rich meaning. Many artists and pragmatists tend to resonate with these practices due to the meaningful history, anchoring, and lack of personality-centricness. No, it’s not without fault and issues because there is human involvement.

As I continue to have conversations with most of my evangelical friends, the questions continue to come. There are a few misconceptions out there. The beautiful thing is, there are many on the path towards a more rooted, anchored, and rich tradition with liturgical and ancient forms. The liturgy is centering, robust, and moving and contrary to popular belief, it is passionate, beautiful, meaningful, and vibrant. The music tends to be diverse, poetic, and spirited. I’ve even thought of the term Liturgicostal would almost be appropriate in some forms of expression.

Obviously, Anglicanism and it’s practices may not be for everyone. Those of us who serve and follow Jesus are of the Kingdom work. It takes all of us. There is much to be done and many ways to do it. I will continue to lead worship and speak in many evangelical churches. We need more bridge building opportunities and less divisive fragmenting within The Church. May we not continue to fear what we don’t understand.

I am humbled and excited about this new season in the life of the Jarnagins. A couple of months ago, I began the process of ordination in the Anglican Mission (AMiA). If you are ever mindful of me (even for a second), we would be grateful for thoughts and prayer.

Full disclosure: The local church that I am serving is non-denominational and that is okay. I am thankful to serve the Church without walls or confinement. However, the eucharistic fellowship that we host a few times a month is centered in liturgy and Anglican form.

 

A few points of interest:

  1. This decision is really more personal than it is public (yes, it’s ironic that I’m doing a post about it).
  2. It is deepening everything that I have done in my church and musical past.
  3. Though much of religion can be stifling, my hope for the Church has never been brighter. I believe that much of the Anglican practice is what will help bring balance and further movement to the Church as a whole.
  4. We’re not completely sure what this will fully mean, but we are seeing an expanding opportunities in leading worship, speaking, and supporting the global church in a variety of backgrounds.

 

If you are curious, there are a few books that would further feed your curiosity. Thomas McKenzie’s book The Anglican Way is one of the most recent. It is a great starting point. You could also check out Beyond Smells and Bells, The Accidental Anglican, and  Evangelicals On The Canterbury Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

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Sacred Environments

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“I don’t know, it just seems like it doesn’t make a difference if I go to church or not. I get more out of a good day at the park with my family than I do at a church”, said a dear friend not long ago.  So, may be missing some sacred connections within some evangelical churches. We fire up the production and branding to a level that can rival some major businesses.

It’s really about our awareness, not an experience. It shouldn’t be about the teaching series, brand management, or worship production (or style), though it is, really. Many of us have had more sacred encounters outside of a church service than within. However, I’ve been discouraged at the notion that what happens inside our sanctuaries, cathedrals, “worship centers”, or auditoriums is insignificant. We’ve made the response of our faith so casual that we may have created an unsustainable model of the evangelical church. We’ve lost the Sacred in the process. Part of gathering together is about the acknowledgment and awareness of God’s presence… then how to live and be the Church.

I am an advocate for being mindful and intentional while helping sacred encounters become accessible to anyone and everyone. Within that tension we have blurred the lines between set apartness and everyday culture so severely that some of our worship gatherings are no more sacred than going to show, game, or the DMV. Ironically enough, I’ve lost my religion with some of those scenarios.

Maybe the evangelical church as we know should retool or even reform (again). Maybe there is another group emerging. It could very well be a blend of Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestant, and Anglicanism. It’s almost for certain that it won’t look like where we have been for the past three generations.

If you are doing the same type of flow, script, order each week, guess what… that’s your form of liturgy. Everyone has their own practice of liturgy. Allowing and devoting planning with the Holy Spirit in mind will possible be the only awareness needed. Even with that being said, there is a thirst for the framework that comes with Anglicanism or liturgical settings, both high and low church practice. It can be a wonderfully refreshing form for many of us.

I still believe that we should always be open to the idea of God using the available. Our availability to be a catalyst or channel for anyone to encounter God’s renewal of all things is what is most weighty. I will continue to believe that there are multiple meaningful ways to shepherd people. It doesn’t always look liturgical, ancient, progressive, or trendy.

 

Some thoughts about tweaking our sacred environments:

+Know who your people are and where they are in life. Knowing their stories will assist in any shepherding efforts.

+Avoid sonic and visual violence. Having a loud rock band just because it’s the new tradition isn’t always the right thing. More and more we’re thirsty for less, not more. Production has hit the point of diminishing return in most of our circles. You can only out hype yourself so many times. Just because you can doesn’t mean that you should.

+There is no need to “reinvent the wheel”. The liturgical calendar is beautifully calibrating for a reason and has been a “proven” means of protecting ourselves and the Scriptures. If nothing else, adopt portions of it in the effort to help your people with their daily / seasonal rhythms.

+It is a must for us to acknowledge that a communion with God is possible everyone we are present. To pretend we can only encounter God within a church is ridiculous. Let’s also hope that within our gatherings we can indeed communion with the Holy One.

 

One final thought as I seemingly climb down from a box…

Give yourself permission to change. Change your preference, change your perspective, your opinion. Contrary to popular belief, it is okay to change a denomination, worship form, or style. The Holy Spirit is moving, prompting, and loosening us of ourselves. New wine and new wine skins are a good and beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

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Seeking Mystery

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I am present

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Beloved

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Peacemaking

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Our glance at one another can be more tender, sensitive, and caring. “We kind to one another, for we are all fighting a great battle”; most say this comes from … Read More →

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