Join Jonathan and Tish Warren at 7pm for a discussion of this book. Childcare provided. All Welcome!
RECOMMENDED READING FOR EPIPHANY: GRACISIM
A few months ago, we had the privilege of hosting Rev. Dr. Esau McCaulley at our church for a Men’s Breakfast and to preach on Sunday morning at Ascension. Fr. Esau electrified us with his own story of becoming an Anglican, with his deep appreciation for the liturgy and its formative power for making disciples, and he challenged us with the fact that the Anglican Church in North America does not, by and large, reach people of color. Growing up in Huntsville, Alabama, in fact, Fr. Esau told us, he had never heard of Anglicanism, because Anglicans had not made a serious, enduring effort to create inroads into his community.
This is a problem because the kingdom of God is multi-ethnic. As it breaks down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile (Eph. 2:14-22), so it also breaks down the dividing wall between all ethnicities. God, the Creator of all, made ‘of one blood all nations of men’ (Acts 17:26), and the future we look forward to is the gathering of all nations into a unity in Christ which is not a uniformity, in which all ethnicities will bring their own gifts and praise God in their own languages (Isa. 60:5-7; Rev. 7:9), as Augustine wrote: “Set in one place, [Adam] fell and, as it were, broken small, he has filled the whole world. But the Divine Mercy gathered up the fragments from every side, forged them in the fire of love and welded into one what had been broken.”
That unity is to find expression in the midst of our local churches now as a sign of our hope for the resurrection. The apostles labored hard to forge and sustain this unity in the earliest churches (Col. 3:11-14; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10; Acts 15:1-21). This conviction was not a piece of airy-fairy social engineering dreamed up by the apostles, but a central part of the apostolic faith which they had received from Christ (John 15:9-14; 17:9-26; Mt. 28:16-20). The fourth century father John Chrysostom witnessed to the power of the gospel to overcome historic ethnic divisions: “Of one and of the other, Christ makes a single body. Thus he who lives in Rome looks on the Indians as his own members. Is there any union to be compared with that? Christ is the head of all.”
In order to aid our denominational body, the ACNA, in embodying this central biblical conviction, Fr. Esau is one of the co-founders of the Anglican Multi-Ethnic Network (AMEN), which “exists to help Anglicans in North America better reflect the diversity of the body of Christ in local churches so that our churches’ ethnic make-up manifests the universal saving power of the gospel and its ability to unite all people under the lordship of Christ.” AMEN recommends resources designed to help the churches in our province understand and overcome the sources of historic and present divisions between different ethnic groups.
AMEN’s recommended reading for Epiphany is David Anderson’s Gracism: The Art of Inclusion (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2010). As a church that places our hope in Christ and which lives in expectation of the powerful work of the Holy Spirit to overcome divisions in our city, our country, and in the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church of Christ, we will join our province in prayerfully reading this book during Epiphany, when we remember the nations joyfully bringing their gifts to the Christ-child, and the light of his incarnation becoming known to the world (Mt. 2:1-11).