I recently read a great book- Why go to church? by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP. The book challenged and inspired me to look at what we do as church- our rituals and traditions – from the point of view of those who find going to church boring and pointless. I am not a Roman Catholic, yet I found the book engrossing and very readable.
It helped me discover afresh some of the depth and truth around the drama of the Eucharist or communion and I was delighted that Rowan Williams ,The Archbishop of Canterbury, selected this as his Lent Book choice for 2009. In his foreword he wrote, “The drama at the core of our humanity is about the reluctance to be human; and the gift that the Church offers is the resource and courage to step into Jesus’ world and begin the business of being human afresh- again and again.”
But guess what? Yes, the naysayers are at it again! I open today’s Sunday Timesto read that a member of the Protestant Truth Society is reported to be upset that the Primate of the Church of England has invited a group of Catholic Dominican Friars to launch the book at Lambeth Palace by chanting compline or night prayer. The reason for the complaint is recorded as the Roman Catholic Church being in opposition to the doctrines of the Church of England as expressed in the 39 articles of faith, and one person is quoted as saying, “It’s a sad day when The Archbishop of Canterbury can decide to join in prayer with one of the orders that so viciously opposed the Protestant Reformation”- the sins of the fathers eh!
Apparently it’s the first time that anything like this has happened there since the Reformation, and I for one believe this should be the cause of celebration and not offence or regret.
So what’s so bad about one Christian tradition joining another in prayer at Lambeth Palace? For me, I am happy with the words of Rowan Williams from his foreword; “I hope that these pages will remind us all that, whatever tensions and unfinished business still lie between the historic churches, the basic commitment is one and the same. It is to let God…touch the core of our humanity and…free us to be sent in God’s name, to announce healing and joy to all creation.”
So Protestant Truth Society or Catholic Truth Society it matters not to me: I’m happy with the truth that Rowan and Timothy are living out and let’s stop making this compline complicated and instead celebrate the symbolism of love and togetherness of different traditions coming together in prayer to get people to understand more why we do go to church?
The first book of Timothy’s I read was “What is the point of being a Christian?” It’s also the question I wonder should be asked of some in The Protestant Truth Society today.