Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

In thanksgiving… for the Lord who Brings Increase (1 Corinthians 3)

27th November 2020
Audio: 

In thanksgiving… for the Lord who Brings Increase (1 Corinthians 3)

Mr. Robert Ramsey

“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” - 1 Corinthians 3:7.

To be an Anglican is to be a church planter. This may sound odd; after all some Anglican churches have been around for nearly five hundred years, but I shall clarify: to church plant is to proclaim the gospel, and I think we Anglicans do that particularly well, whether we meet in a gothic Cathedral or a living room. We are always planting.

Our Book of Common Prayer is designed so that the gospel of our Lord and Savior is proclaimed every day of a Christian’s life. Every liturgy shouts from the rooftops the centrality of the Cross, from the godparents rejecting Satan and all his works at a baptism to the priest singing “I am the resurrection and the life” when we bury our dead. At least twice a day, seven days a week, we are told that our sins are forgiven. One simply cannot escape it.

Yet, as Anglicans, we also know that it is the Lord who is at work, not ourselves. He is the one building up the church. As the psalmist says, “Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it.” He is the gospel, not the words that we speak; he “giveth the increase.”

Somehow, we forget the majesty of this gift and we lose the desire to share it, to church plant, even though it is so wondrous that we should hardly sleep because of the reality of the gospel. Perhaps a taste of its meaning is in order.

It means that God, the magnificent, eternal, incomprehensible Lord of Creation, upon whom the very foundations of the Earth rest, dwells within us. Not figuratively or metaphorically, but really, more real than our own flesh and blood. When Solomon builds the temple in Jerusalem for the Lord, he marvels, “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, the heaven and heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house that I have builded?” Yet God deigns to dwell within us, infinitely more so than in Solomon’s temple.

To dwell within us, Christ was born of a woman, taking on human flesh, that we might be adopted as sons of God. St. Paul says to the Galatians, “Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ,” meaning that whatever relationship Jesus has unto God by his nature, we being found in Christ have the same relationship via grace. While he is the only begotten Son of God, he is “the firstborn among many brethren,” and by the grace of adoption we are all counted as first-borns. And what a truly wondrous thing this is! For, like Christ, we shall one day stand fully in the presence of the Father as heirs, the Church Triumphant.

Although this only represents a small fraction of that gospel, let it be a reminder as we open our Book of Common Prayer of the gift that lies within, a gift that must be shared by a church that is always planting.

Mr. Robert Ramsey
Warden at Christ Church Anglican South Bend (a member parish of the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word) and the Executive Editor of The North American Anglican.

Prayer: 

Concluding Prayer for the Institution of a Rector:

Almighty God, you have built your Church upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone: Grant that, by the operation of the Holy Spirit, all Christians may be joined together in unity of spirit and in the bond of peace, that they may be a holy temple acceptable to you. Give the abundance of your grace especially to this Congregation, that with one heart we may desire the health and increase of your holy Church, and with one voice profess the faith once delivered to the saints. Defend us from the sins of heresy and schism. And grant that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by your governance, that your Church may joyfully serve you in all godliness and faithfully walk in the ways of truth and peace; so that, on the day of judgment, we all may be numbered with your saints in glory everlasting; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, the gracious Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

BCP 2019, p. 521

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