My Twitter alert went off yesterday, informing me of a breaking headline:
My Twitter alert went off yesterday, informing me of a breaking headline: the Vatican had just announced a new set of canon laws, called “the Apostolic Constitution,” whereby disaffected Anglican priests and parishioners, in fact entire Anglican congregations, can now be welcomed into Rome’s embrace and communion. The decision, “reached in secret by a small cadre of Vatican officials” (Associated Press), apparently caught even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, by surprise. What is no surprise is that growing segments of conservative Anglicans in both the East and West—distraught over the blessing of same-sex unions and openly gay clergy—have been seceding from the Anglican communion. Rome’s move is an unsubtle gesture, in spite of the Vatican’s esprit de corps of ecumenism, to draw all to her. As the Associated Press writer noted, “The Vatican move could be taken as a signal that the ultimate goal of ecumenical talks is to convert Anglicans to Catholicism” (SBT 10-21-09). But is anyone surprised?
And in our quiet corner of the world we gather to celebrate Creation Sabbath, a liturgical festival that joyfully reminds the worshiper we are children of the loving Creator, who after shaping our planetary home into existence in six days then rested on the seventh day, bestowing it as a gift day—the Sabbath day—to the human race exclusively for the enjoyment of our friendship with him. “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy,” he later etched with his finger into his granite Decalogue (Exodus 20:8). Why? “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy” (v 11).
The seventh-day Sabbath remains the greatest ecumenical gift ever entrusted to the human race. For what more tangible and periodic bestowal could the Creator have conferred upon humanity—to unite his children to each other as one, as well as to bind them to him in strong ties of love—than the universal bestowment of the seventh day of the week as the divine-human Rest Day for all earth inhabitants? If on every seventh-day Sabbath humanity gathered to worship our Creator, celebrate our unity and remember our destiny, would we ever need secretly-formed canon law to make us one? The truth is, if we hadn’t forgotten our Creator and abandoned his Sabbath, the only breaking headline these days would be, “Peace on earth.”