HANDBOOK OF CHRISTIAN FAITH
[The following article by Bishop Higgins first appeared in the May 1957 issue
of the Episcopal Recorder. Bishop Higgins was Presiding Bishop
of the Reformed Episcopal Church from 1957 to 1975.]
Have you ever thought of the Book of Common Prayer as a text book of the Christian religion? We know it as a manual of worship. Those who have used this book for many years, as well as those who come to it for the first time, are impressed with the beauty and richness of its language. This is inescapable. Here is a language of devotion peculiar to this book and, as it is used week by week, it builds for itself a permanent place in our hearts. We are moved to devotion and reverence by its mighty ascriptions of praise to God. We surrender our self-righteousness before its deep expressions of contrition. We find comfort in its petitions which seem to meet our every need and the needs of the whole world. We have felt this emotional and esthetic element in the Prayer Book.
The esthetic appeal of the liturgy has caused an interesting development in American church life in recent years. Everywhere we find non-liturgical churches making their services more formal. Gowned choirs, processionals, stated forms of worship, the use of such ancient hymns of the Church as the Gloria in Excelsis, the Te Deum and the Magnificat, have come into increasing favor with those churches that have no Book of Common Prayer. They have been attracted by the beauty and order of the formal service. We wonder if in some cases the esthetic is not a substitute for intellectual content and sound doctrine.
Christianity is not a feeling nor and emotion. It is essentially a faith. The Christian is one who believes certain great facts concerning God and His relation to men, in particular facts concerning Jesus Christ. This faith will issue in a life and will be accompanied by feelings and emotions. The Faith, however, is primary. The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments contain the facts upon which this faith is founded. This is one Book in which we find the teaching of the religion of Christ, for it is God's Revelation. This is the Christian's great textbook. It should be read and studied, constantly, faithfully, prayerfully. There have been many other books written to set forth the teachings of our religion. Preeminent among them is the Book of Common Prayer.
We are familiar with the esthetic value of the Prayer Book, but it may be new to think of the intellectual element. No book except the Bible itself contains so much Scripture. It prescribes the reading of a lesson from both the Old and New Testaments as well as a portion of the Psalms for every Sunday. The prayers, many of which are very ancient, are full of the language of Scripture. The opening sentences, the versicles, the canticles, the Lord's Prayer, the ascriptions, the benedictions, bring us verse after verse from God's Word. No one can be a user of the Prayer Book and not become familiar with a large portion of the Bible.
The Prayer Book also clearly teaches the cardinal truths of Christianity. The fact of our sinfulness and the need of a Saviour; Christ's death for man's sin, the resurrection of Jesus; the Second Advent; God's eternal love and sovereign care over our lives; these are some of the truths taught over and over by this book. To worship intelligently with the aid of the Book of Common Prayer is to be well instructed in the Christian religion and well acquainted with the Word of God. To follow through the Church Year is to become acquainted with the full rounded truth of our faith. The Book of Common Prayer is indeed a handbook of Christian faith!
by Rt. Rev. Howard D. Higgins, D. D.
Missionary of The Month
Bishop Oommen Samuel Family. Reformed Episcopal Mission. Lalitpur, India.
Gary Greco, age 51, passed away on July 22, 2005 . Our deepest sympathies are extended to his mother Edwina, his brothers Scott, Carmen, Michael and sister Barbara.
Sunday School Rally Day
Sunday, September 11, 2005. Sunday School resumes at 9:30 a.m. Balloon Launch. Lunch provided.
The Rt. Rev. Royal U. Grote will visit St. Andrew's on Sunday, September 11, 2005. Do plan to attend this very special service.
October 2, 2005
Shield of Faith
WJYS channel 62 in Chicago, 9:00 a.m. Thursday mornings.
Become An Organ Donor
The cost of purchasing and installing the organ is $50,900.00. Please make a special donation to your Church now. We need to raise $12,500.00 in contributions from our church members to take advantage of the matching funds from St. Andrew's and the Christ Church Trust, making your contributions triple! The organ will be in use on September 11, 2005. Please send your tax-deductible contribution made out to St. Andrew's Church today, mark the memo on check “Organ Fund”.
VISIT OUR WEBSITE
Sept. 1 – Nancy Toomey
Sept. 17 – Elizabeth Domato
Sept. 20 – Franklin H. Sellers, Jr.
Sept. 23 – Steve Horosinski
Sept. 28 – Brian Sutton
Sept. 30 – Dennis Domato
Somebody cares and always will,
The world forgets but God loves you still,
You cannot go beyond His Love
No matter what you're guilty of –
For God forgives until the end,
He is your faithful, loyal friend,
And though you try to hide your face
There is no shelter any place.
That can escape His watchful eye,
For on the earth and in the sky,
He's ever present and always there
To take you in His tender care.
And bind the wounds and mend the breaks
When all the world around forsakes…
Somebody cares and loves you still
And God is the Someone who always will.