1. If you read this week’s reflection in the E-News you will know that I will not be preaching on today’s Gospel; it’s too complex to explain in a sermon. Instead I want to takeoff from Paul’s instruction to Timothy: I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity. It is a peculiar coincidence that this appointed reading is read on the eve of the Funeral and Committal Service for Queen Elizabeth.
  2. For some it might feel strange to be talking about Queens and Kings. I acknowledge this topic is fraught with many feelings for people: from appreciation and reverence for the Royals to total disdain and contempt for them and the imperialistic legacy they represent. When we lowered the flags at the news of the death of the Queen, someone asked: “I thought we had won a war about this subject!”
  3. In 2009 my father asked me if I was to become a subject of the Queen when I was received as an Episcopalian. I want to clarify that the British sovereign’s official church role of Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a role that is limited to England; no official role in the Anglican churches of Scotland, Wales, Ireland, nor any other province of the Anglican Communion, including the Episcopal Church.
  4. Nevertheless, it was Henry VIII, and his 23 successors, who were instrumental in molding the Anglican identity. Thus, I want to take this opportunity to invite us to reflect on our identity, our unique character, as Episcopalians and Anglicans. Not in a way to suggest that we are better than others but rather in the hope that our appreciation of our lineage can sustain and enliven our spiritual life. We are just one flavor in the Christian world.
  5. As Episcopalians we trace our lineage to the Church of England from:
    1. early Christianity in Roman Britain form the 2nd century and the development of the Celtic churches,
    2. through the foundation of the Church of England in the year 597 by the preaching of St. Augustine of Canterbury and the influence of Benedictine monasticism.
    3. Then the Act of Supremacy of 1534 that split the Church of England from the Church of Rome, and the publication of the 1st BCP in 1549 with Archbishop Thomas Cranmer as the principal writer (later burned at the stake by the Roman Catholic Queen Mary).
    4. In the Americas it started in the lost colony of Roanoke, in 1585 with the first recorded Baptisms of the Church of England; and then the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown with its first Church of England church in 1607,
    5. to the independence, after the Revolutionary war in 1789, from the Church of England which would now be known as the Episcopal Church,
    6. all the way to the arrival of Sidney Gray and his wife Alma on Orcas Island and the establishment of our beloved church in 1885.
  6. For some people if they were asked what characterizes the Episcopal Church they would (unfortunately) say that it is “Roman Catholic light.” Many would say we are the Via Media, a middle way, between the Reformation and Roman Catholicism. The late comedian Robin William’s famously listed top 10 reasons to be an Episcopalian:


  1. No snake handling.
  2. You can believe in dinosaurs.
  3. Male and female God created them; male and female we ordain them.
  4. You don’t have to check your brains at the door.
  5. Pew aerobics.
  6. Church year is color-coded.
  7. Free wine on Sunday.
  8. All of the pageantry – none of the guilt.
  9. You don’t have to know how to swim to get baptized


  1. Many of us are not what is called “cradle Episcopalians”. Some of you come from other Protestant Churches, others from the Roman Catholic Church or the Greek Orthodox Church; and still others from the Jewish or no particular religious or spiritual tradition. For those of you who come from the more Protestant traditions, like the Presbyterian or Baptist, you might say that the Episcopal Church tends towards the Catholic side “a bit too much;” or just chuck it up to me as a former Roman Catholic priest! Which, for the most part, is not true!! ?
  2. Indeed the Episcopal Church has a deep root in the Catholic tradition. The BCP page 854 says that “The Church is catholic, because it proclaims the whole Faith to all people, to the end of time.” We hold on to this title and are reluctant to let the Roman Church own it… we are Catholics too!
  3. Henry VIII did not want to create a new Church, he was not at all sympathetic to the ideals of the Reformation to the point that Pope Leo X granted him the title Defender of the Faith for his book Defence of the Seven Sacraments written against the ideas of Martin Luther.
  • The Anglican Church has swung between the more Catholic and more Protestant traditions in different moments of its history. More Evangelical Protestant in the XVIII c. and more Catholic starting in the XIX c. For example, today the Episcopal Church’ calendar remembers Edward Bouverie Pusey, born in England in 1800. He was instrumental in the revival of High Church teachings and practices in the Anglican Communion, known as the Oxford Movement. He contributed to the revival of private confession, the revival of monastic life, and opening church in the poorest areas. He was condemned for his preaching on the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. When the Anglican priest John Henry Newman was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1845, Pusey’s adherence to the Church of England kept many from following him.
  • What are the characteristics of this Catholicity of the church? I have found useful these nine elements (borrowed from Richard P. McBrien[1]):
    1. Sense of sacramentality: God is present everywhere, the invisible in the visible, within us and within the whole created order
    2. Principle of mediation: the divine is available to us through the ordinary things of life: persons, communities, events, places, institutions, natural objects, etc.
  • Sense of communion: we are radically social and so, too, is our relationship with God and God’s with us
  1. Push towards rationality with its rejection of fundamentalism, dogmatism, and legalism
  2. Respect for history, tradition, and continuity: we are products of our past as well as shapers of our present and our future
  3. Analogical imagination: the divine and the human are more alike than unalike
  • The triumph of grace over sin
  • A high regard for authority and order as well as for conscience and freedom
  1. And finally, a fundamental openness to all truth and to every value.
  • The Episcopal/Anglican tradition holds on these elements that distinguish Catholic Christianity, without the submission to the Pope in Rome and with an appreciation of many (not all) of the ideals of the Reformation. The late Roman Catholic theologian Hans Küng wrote: “Perhaps the whole Catholic Church could have looked like this [like Anglicanism] had not Rome a priori ruled out Luther’s concerns.”[2] For those of you from a more Protestant background you can learn to appreciate the rich and beautiful Catholic traditions. For us from a Roman Catholic and Orthodox backgrounds to learn to appreciate some of the great values of the Protestant Reformation and not to confuse Catholicism with the peculiarities of the Roman Church.
  • My invitation for us is that, as we pray for Queen Elizabet, we deepen in the riches of this peculiar expression of Christianity called Anglicanism. A richness that can illuminate, enhance and deepen greatly our spiritual life.

[1] Richard P. McBrien, Catholicism: New Study Edition–Completely Revised and Updated. HarperCollins. pp. 1199-1200.

[2] Hans Küng Hans Küng, Christianity: Its Essence and History (Continuum: New York, 1995), 596.