The Anglican story begins in the 17th century after the division of medieval Christendom into national and denominational jurisdiction marked the beginning of separate development in the English religion (Thornton, 21). Anglicanism evolved as a distinctive practice of Christianity through adaptation and reaction to the changing times, but it did not begin as a theory. It was established alongside colonization in the United States, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia (Thornton, 22). As a worldwide family of churches, the Anglican Communion has more than 70 million followers in 38 different provinces spreading across 161 countries. Anglicans speak different languages because they are located on every continent. Having come from different cultures and races, the Anglicans are uniquely unified through their history, theology, worship and their relationship to the ancient sea of Canterbury.
Anglicans uphold their apostolic and catholic faith by following the teaching of Jesus Christ and they, are very committed to proclaiming the good news of the gospel to all corners of the world (Formichelli, 443). They do this in practice is based on the revelation contained in the holy bible and the Catholics creed which is interpreted in light of Christians tradition, experience and reason. A person is made one with the Christ by baptism in the name of the father, son and the Holy Spirit and after that received into the fellowship of the church (Thornton, 25). Baptism is the sacrament by which a follower is initiated into Christian faith and allowing the person to receive the grace of other sacraments. In Anglicanism, services of children dedication and thanksgiving are at times celebrated when baptism in the church is being deferred. This communion of induction is open to both adults and children of this denomination (Bonhoeffer, 56). Anglicanism places on the rituals as a means of sanctification, forgiveness, and grace as it is expressed in the church liturgy.
Celebrating the Holy Eucharist also known as the Holy Communion, the Lords Supper or the mass is the central worship for the Anglicans. In this offering of prayer and praise, the Anglicans celebrate the death, resurrection and the life of Jesus Christ and are recalled through the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacrament (Formichelli, 456). The main character of the Holy Eucharist prayer is Thanksgiving, and the whole prayer should be seen as sanctified. In this communion, Jesus Christ is incorporated and encountered, and in this, they look backward as a memorial to Jesus sacrifice, forward as a divine of the heavenly banquet and to the present as a manifestation of Christ in the lives of the believers (Bonhoeffer, 65). There are other occasions in this church known as the sacrament which includes; confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing those who are sick. These are significant rites celebrated by the Anglicans.
Worship is at the very heart of Anglicanism, and their styles of worship vary from simple to elaborate or the even combination. Another significant feature that distinguishes Anglicanism from the other denominations is the independence of the church (Formichelli, 430). They have divisions that are the parishes, dioceses, and provinces which help each other to achieve support in financial assistance and sharing of the resources. In the Anglican tradition, the celebration of the holy sacraments is reserved to the clergy, deacons, bishops, and priest who is in charge of baptizing and in some provinces they celebrate marriages. There is also lay presidency which is a form of celebrating the Lords Supper whereby the person presiding over the sacrament is not an ordained minister of religion (Thornton, 29). In the diocese of Sydney and Australia, there have been some discussions about the possibility of a lay presidency of the Eucharist, but this is inconsistent for most Anglicans who have an understanding of sacramental theology. The sizeable uniting text for the Anglicans was The Book of Common Prayer until in the late twentieth century when they introduced Anglican liturgies. The Book of Common Prayer and the Anglican rites give a general expression that is found within the Anglican church whose principles reflects that of the via media about its own and other Christian denominations (Formichelli ,485). The Anglicans believe that to be one of them is a journey of faith to God supported by a fellowship of other believers who are dedicated to finding him by service and prayer.
On January 15th, The House of Lords passed the act of uniformity abolishing the Latin mass in England. Complete English services and prayers in English had already been included in the Latin services. At St Paul and other London churches English services had been introduced, but now the only legal services in the country were to be those in English provided by the Book of Common Prayer. (Thornton, 30) The Book of Common Prayers was the first prayer book to include liturgical services published in English. It was initially collected, edited and partially written by Thomas Cranmer who was an English reformer and the Archbishop of Canterbury. The book includes; written prayers, catechisms, the daily office (thrice daily Bible reading program), collects which are short prayers to be recited at specific points in the service: full order of service for important events such as baptisms and holidays, a Psalter which is the biblical psalms arranged for a month reading and finally a lectionary which is a list of readings (Formichelli, 478). Crammers new prayer book was mainly based on the Sarum Use, but it was influenced by the German Lutheran services. The eight observances of medieval tradition which were done on a daily basis were mixed into matins and evensongs. A lot of materials were maintained from the Roman Catholic Mass. The original version of The Book of Common Prayer was first completed in the year 1549 under King Edwards VI of England (Bonhoeffer, 34) In 1604 King James of England ordered another revision to King James Version of the Bible. After the English civil war in 1662, the version of the Book of Common Prayers that had remained reasonably standard was released (Bonhoeffer, 36). The Book of Common Prayer publication was not accepted by everyone in England, and therefore the nonconformist churches objected to the kings insistence that all religions use the Book of Common Prayer in their services. Those that did not agree with the use of Book of Common Prayer faced church closure, and they are; Methodist, Presbyterians, Congregationalist, and Baptists. On November 12, 1660, a priest in Bedford, England by the name John Bunyan was arrested because he refused to use the Book of Common Prayers in his church. He spent the next 12 years in jail, but he considered that a small price to pay for following his conscience and standing up for his rights to pray in the spirit free from the criticism of ecclesiastical jurisdiction. While in jail Bunyan wrote an apologue titled The Pilgrims Progress (Clark,76).
The Book of Common Prayer is a great treasure full of devotional and teaching resources for both individuals and congregations, but most importantly its a sign of unit (Formichelli, 476) y. We who are diverse from different parts of the world come together to Christ through our collective worship and common prayer. The primary basis for all the current editions of the Book of Common Prayer is the 1662 version (Clark, 35). The use of this book has grown beyond the Church of England to many more Anglican denominations and other different liturgical churches in all parts of the world. The Book of Common Prayer has been translated into many different languages. Other churches like the Presbyterian and the Lutheran have based their English language prayer and service books on the Book of Common Prayer (Clark, 38). This book is a resource for those who value liturgical worship because it contains some beautifully written prayers for all. The Book of Common Prayer is an aid to worship, but we should never allow ourselves to limit our worship to God to a liturgy. I believe that our prayer should be our own and not those drafted by someone else. Bunyan said these from his jail cells prayer is a sincere, sensible, affectionate pouring out of the heart or soul to God, through Christ: in strength and assistance of the Holy Spirit for such things as God has promised or according to his word, for the good of the church, with submission in faith to the will of God, (Clark, 32)
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Life Together. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress, 2015. Print.
Clark, William Robinson. The Anglican Reformation. [Place of publication not identified]: Nabu Public Domain Reprints, 2010. Print.
Formichelli, J. "SHAKESPEARE's RITES * Shakespeare's Common Prayers: The Book Of Common Prayer And The Elizabethan Age. By DANIEL SWIFT." Essays in Criticism 63.4 (2013): 477-485. Web.
Thornton, Martin. English Spirituality. Eugene: Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2012. Print.
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