Steve Croft & Ian Mobsby (eds), Fresh Expressions in the Sacramental Tradition

(Canterbury Press; UK, 2009)

Steven Croft notes, in his chapter of this book, that there is a fairly even spread of interest in Fresh Expressions across all traditions of the Anglican Church in the UK.  This book however, offers inspirational stories and insightful theological musings from the catholic or sacramental end of the spectrum.  The testimonies from Anglican communities of faith pursuing goodness and holiness together made me wish that I lived on the other side of the world!

Brian McLaren, in his chapter, describes how Anglicanism has easy access to pre-modern Christian spirituality which places it in strong position to combat Modernist Reductionism.  This is a great quote from him:

“Christian faith was severely reduced in the modern Western Church; it gradually shrank from a robust, integrated and generous way of life into a rigid, restrictive and exclusive system of belief… No doubt, at the fringes, Anglicans have experienced this self-consuming division process along with other Protestants.  But at the core, Anglicans have been repulsed by the ugliness of it all.  At the core, they have sought to retain the grand and robust beauty of holiness.  And in particular, they have cherished ancient liturgy as a way of doing so.  By centring on worship – liturgical worship, with a contemplative leaning, with a taste for the beautiful – Anglicans were less infatuated with attempts to shrink-wrap the mysteries of God and gospel in tidy, little, square verbal packages; like the Psalmist, the one thing they desired, the one thing they sought above all others was the beautiful holiness of God.  If the locus of constricting religion is in books, the locus of Anglican religion is in liturgy.  If the one is focused on argument and correctness, the other is focused on reverence and awe.” (Brian McLaren, ‘One, Holy, Catholic and Fresh?’)

Rowan Williams is as erudite as ever as he frames the project and purpose of the book.  I will keep this quote for future reference:

“Church is not primarily an event in which we do something, think something, feel something; it is being together in a situation where we trust God to do something and to change us – whether or not we notice it, let alone fully understand it… [Therefore in worship we must ] “manage this crossover from what we do to what God does; how to create an environment in which church can happen in the fullest sense, with the sacramental life flowing through as a sign and channel of God’s action.”

List of contributors:  Rowan Williams, Sue Wallace (Visions), Brian McLaren, Paige Blair (U2charist), Steve Croft, Ian Adams & Ian Mobsby (maybe & moot respectively), Stephen Cotterall, Michael Volland (Feig), Philip Roderick & Tess Holland (Contemplative Fire), Jonathan Clark, Richard Giles, Simon Rundell (Blesséd), Carl Turner, Karen Ward (Anglimergent & Church of the Apostles in Seattle), Phyllis Tickle, Stuart Burns.

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