A Sermon by the Reverend Canon Edwin Tompkins
How does the Church maintain itself during times of change? The history of the Church offers compelling lessons in this regard. Initially, the Church faced enormous persecution by political authorities, but it never wavered in its faith as evident by its many martyrs, even death for our Lord.
Many people became Christians because there was no alternative. Some were not good examples. Those desiring a more spiritual life had to flee from one city to another. When secular knowledge again became important and scholars started proclaiming that man is the measure of all things, the Church again responded countering secularism with spiritual renewal, the Anglican faith were among these, our work is still relevant today.
The Anglican Church Worldwide (ACW) have our own set of challenges and changes to face in this new decade. We share in the difficulties of war, disease, economic troubles, and eroding morals. The ACW shows it has the inner strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit to grow in the great Body of Christ which is the Church. Our principles guide us during our time of change, leading us to a safe harbor that God has provided for us, first among them UNITY.
We are fortunate indeed to have the bishops that have regarded unity as the common bond of the church. We have Scripture and the Nicene Creed to guide us doctrinally. Social issues like homosexuality and political correctness that can do enormous damage to the faith, we refrain, we stand by the word of God.
The faith of the Church must always be complete. We see churches today which are striving to reflect contemporary society discard, for example, the sacrament of holy unction, the sacred vows of matrimony, references to rejecting the devil and his works is no longer mentioned from the pulpit, ignoring the confession of sins, some even discarding Scripture entirely. This mockery of the Church, the ACW will never fail to complete our true expression of faith.
We stand ready with a clear understanding of what our priorities are. While attending to the spiritual needs of all who pass our way, we have consistently focused on the youth, giving them hope through the power of the Church in their lives a healthy and redeeming alternative to a lifestyle that will land them in jail. We have addressed the needs of persecuted Christians everywhere especially in Africa and Eastern Europe.
Anglicans come from many lands with various and diverse customs. We speak different languages, have different customs and traditions, we are Christians with love. We praise God in differing ways; we pray with outward emotion. All these things are within Christian practices and have been for many hundreds of years. St. Paul and the apostles faced the same sort of challenges bringing Jews and Greeks togethexr. The ACW will grow and thrive as we honor our diversity and truly cherish these differences among us.
These are but a few of the principles by which the ACW will face the challenges of the future. The body of Christ will continue to thrive and grow as long as we find the Holy Spirit evident in our thoughts, words, and deeds. We pray as we grow in a changing world we will be filled with faith and love and the sacraments remain holy. Challenges will be met regardless of the dark clouds that appear from time to time. Through prayer and the Holy Spirit, all things are open to those who follow in the footsteps of Christ.