Monday, March 30, 2015

Hardship and Inspiration

It is no secret that being a pastor and parish priest, especially in the Anglican tradition, is very difficult… especially these days in a rabidly secular culture where hostility to Christianity is becoming more and more prevalent. Beyond this, being a continuing Anglican clergyman brings with it unique challenges. I mean, let’s face it: we are not looked at with favor and admiration by most other Christians, whether they be episcopalians (liberal or conservative), ACNA types, Evangelical Protestants, and Roman Catholics. Most of these people misunderstand us (at best) or (at worse) openly revile us. One guy - a priest in a more so-called “evangelical” Anglican jurisdiction was amazed to discover that a continuing Anglican parish he visited actually had some real Christians in it! (That is almost an exact quote.) That people think this of us and our churches is very disheartening, especially without any firsthand knowledge of them. Then there is our liturgy and tradition: it is difficult to pass on to people in our dumbed-down “American Idol” world, so our churches are smaller than most. This is discouraging as well. I could go on, but you get the idea… you know the drill. It is tough being a continuing Anglican… and especially a continuing Anglican priest. This vocation is beautiful and rewarding, but it is not for everyone. It is hard, and for as many rewards as there are in this life, there are equally as many disappointments.

Often I have been tempted to throw in the towel. But then I think of my colleagues in the diocese and all that they have gone through and suffered, and how they are still going strong, and that helps me keep going. My diocesan bishop and his suffragan are huge inspirations to me. I know what they have had to go through in their ministries and personal lives, and yet every time I see them or talk to them they have only great things to say about what God is doing in their lives and in the Church! They always smile and laugh, and they never slander others or come across as being bitter or disappointed. They are true inspirations to me. Also inspirational to me are some of the many senior clergy in our diocese. If I could only tell some of these people's stories. Their dedication to our Lord and the ministry are a huge example and encouragement to me, and I am thankful to God for them, and lift them up in prayer. I know that there are other great churches and jurisdictions in the continuum and elsewhere, but I certainly feel blessed to be a priest in the APA serving among such fine men.

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