For the majority of my life I have intentionally stayed at arm’s length and even cringed at the thought of affiliating myself with a religious denomination. Most of this stems from the nature of ministry I have served in and around during my years of travels and staffing. Maybe it’s been the artist in me saying, “Don’t label me. I mean, I’m just following Jesus.” Or maybe (probably) most of the affiliated religious streams have been known more for what they stand against instead of what they stand for.
Over the past fifteen years there has been more and more gravity compelling me toward ancient practices rooted in the rich history of Early Church. From the over exposure to the attraction model of church I eventually became fatigued with re-inventing the wheel week after week and expecting magical results from a production / presentation. A couple of my close friends have been forthcoming enough to ask if any of my jadedness or cynicism has played into my frustration of the evangelical mega-church model. That may be true but I have realized something very significant in the process – there is a difference between running away from something and being compelled toward something.
With a membership estimated at around 80 million members the Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion in the world, after the Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The Anglican Church has and always will have it’s tensions in many varieties, but that will be found in any human endeavor. For my family and I, we have had a sense of coming home with Anglicanism.
We have had many friends who supported us and many even curious at what is happening these days. Sacramental hunger lies within most of us, though it may reveal itself to us in different ways. We are wired to be experiential. In liturgical spaces, everything becomes meaningful and symbolic. In the offering up of the bread and wine, we see the offering up of the wheat and grain and fruits of the earth, and God gives them back in a sanctified form. Though it may seem to "work" for some, many of us are thirsty for meaning that goes deeper than the brand with a 30 minute concert and a 45 minute motivational speech.
If any of you have ever been with us for a LuminousProject gathering, you know that it is liturgical in some nature. We tend to lean into our ache for sacramentality. Each year, there have been some liturgical conversations and practices, especially with Holy Eucharist. LuminousProject has seemed to serve as an on-ramp for those curious about liturgical worship and formation. Many artists and pragmatists tend to resonate with these practices due to the meaningful history, anchoring, and lack of personality-centricness. No, it’s not without fault and issues because there is human involvement.
As I continue to have conversations with some of my evangelical friends, the questions continue to come. There are a few misconceptions out there. The beautiful thing is, there are many on the path towards a more rooted, anchored, and rich tradition with liturgical and ancient forms. The liturgy is centering, robust, and moving and contrary to popular belief, it is passionate, beautiful, meaningful, and vibrant. The music tends to be diverse, poetic, and spirited.
Obviously, Anglicanism and it’s practices may not be for everyone. Those of us who serve and follow Jesus are of the Kingdom work. It takes all of us. There is much to be done and many ways to do it. I will continue to lead worship and speak in many evangelical churches. We need more bridge building opportunities and less divisive fragmenting within The Church. May we not continue to fear (or judge) what we don’t understand.
I am humbled and excited about this new season in the life of the Jarnagins. Over the past couple of years I was ordained a Deacon and then a Priest in the Anglican Communion. Along with a wonderful small group of friends and numerous supporters, we planted Luminous Parish! We have been meeting weekly since mid February. We are grateful for the meaningful work and excited about expanding our root system over the coming years.
A few points of interest:
- This decision is really more personal than it is public (yes, it’s ironic that I’m doing a post about it).
- It is deepening everything that I have done in my church and musical past.
- Though much of religion can be stifling, my hope for the Church has never been brighter. I believe that much of the Anglican practice is what will help bring balance and further movement to the Church as a whole.
If you are curious, there are a few books that would further feed your curiosity. Thomas McKenzie’s book The Anglican Way is one of the most recent. It is a great starting point. You could also check out Beyond Smells and Bells, The Accidental Anglican, and Evangelicals On The Canterbury Trail... or just join us one Sunday at Luminous Parish.
Almighty God, to whom all hearts are open, all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hidden: cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.