I recently attended the “Scripture and Sacraments in Reformation Anglicanism” course at George Whitefield College presented by Dr Ashley Null*. I found the course extremely challenging and very beneficial in thinking about ministry today. The course centred around the Protestant Reformation in the Church of England in the 1500’s, how the Church of England broke from the church of Rome, how God used Thomas Cranmer to capture the essence of the English Reformation and how Cranmer set the glorious Reformation truths before ordinary people with the Book of Common Prayer.
On Sunday I led our church through some set prayers in our REACH SA Prayer Book. Non-conformists, more independent types might want to deride me as being too clinical and stayed, not allowing “the Spirit to move”. “We need to be led by the Spirit in our church services!”, they cry.
I understand the concern, but let me explain why we use the Prayer Book to help us with our liturgy.
Of course the basic starting point in dealing with sin in our lives is to make sure we are Christians. Jesus said in Mark 7 that it is “out of the heart comes evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder” and so on. In other words, the problem is not what we wear or whether we have a tattoo or not, but our hearts, our very selves. We need new hearts, we need to be converted, we need to be born again. That is the first step.
Secondly, we need to be disciplined. Job said, “I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin.” (Job 31:1) Job did not presume he would automatically or magically grow in godliness, but made a covenant with himself to work on his holiness. The apostle Paul said, “I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified”. (1 Corinthians 9:27)