The Parish: A Spirituality of the Local and the Ordinary

This catechetical series is dependent for its vision on the poetry of the great 17th Century, Anglican priest George Herbert. He famously abandoned a career of prominence at the court to be the pastor of a small parish, St. Andrew’s, Lower Bemerton, and there discovered the whole of the Christian life embodied and lived out. The ‘Church’ we are building could then be understood to be the Church in some larger and more abstract way, or as a local church, where people in fact receive the sacrament and hear the Gospel preached.  Not that the larger issues and mandates are lost, only that they are encountered in a place and a moment.

The parish - this is in no way unique to the Anglicans!  But we too have inherited it. It means that our theology needs a sense of place. It means that people who might not otherwise relate to one another are thrown together, cheek to jowl. It means that we minister with a responsibility to our neighbors who are not believers as well as to our own. It means that lay people maintain that patience which is ballast in many cases for the eccentricities or impulsiveness of their pastor!

There is a place for causes, and for the excitement of renewal, and for grander ideas which gather the like minded, but Anglicanism has first of all been a tradition of praying in a place in ordinary time. This may not at first attract the church-shopper of our time, and it is a tacit protest against our cyber-obsession. But it may in fact have a unique witness to our time. And its virtues, humility, patience, virtue, ought to inform how we imagine theology ought to be done too.

Discuss what the elements of a spirituality of the parish would be.

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