Dear Friends and Colleagues in Christ,
Last week we began to reflect on the worldview that pervades a society that has received the Faith of Christ and holds it through the centuries.
In earlier times Christians spoke of themselves as being members of a new nation. Over the course of time whole nations identified themselves as specifically Christian. Here is what Wikipedia says about this:
"A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity as its official religion and often has a state church (also called an established church), which is a Christian denomination that supports the government and is supported by the government.
Historically, the nations of Armenia, Abyssinia, Georgia, as well as the Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire declared themselves as Christian states.
Today, several nations officially identify themselves as Christian states or have state churches. These countries include Argentina, Armenia, Costa Rica,Denmark (incl. Greenland), Dominican Republic, El Salvador,England, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Greece, Hungary,Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Samoa,Tonga, Tuvalu, Vatican City, and Zambia. A Christian state stands in contrast to a secular state, an atheist state, or another religious state, such as a Jewish state, or an Islamic state."
The list - which does not claim to be exhaustive - does not include the Cayman Islands as a Christian State, rightly so because it is a Dependency (called until recently a Dependent Territory) of another State. Nevertheless, those familiar with the current Cayman Islands Constitution (a negotiated document between local spokespersons and British officials) will note in section 1(2) its explicit recognition of the “Christian values” of the Cayman Islands. Whether there is or is not a State Church in the Cayman Islands may still be a debatable point. It is notable moreover that the Wikipedia list includes England, but not the other constituent nations of the United Kingdom, as a Christian state. And in all this, Wikipedia is probably correct.
I am fairly sure that some of my readers are now thinking that Bishop Sykes may have “gone off his rocker”. It is not so: but I shall be attempting to reflect in letters to come on the very serious implications of these perceived or perhaps forgotten or ignored realities for our lives today, especially here in Cayman, for our Christian walk as persons and citizens.
The Collect for the week of the Fifth Sunday after Trinity is
Grant, O Lord, we beseech thee, that the course of this world may be so peaceably ordered by thy governance, that thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Collect, reflecting the thought of the Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy ch 2 vv 1-4 reminds us that the concern of Christians in this age is not exclusively confined to our “end”, our living hope for eternal glory after this life ends. While this should never be absent from a Christian worldview, the Apostle reminds us that our prayers should also be for all persons in the world here and now, and we are counselled by the Lord Jesus Himself in S. Matthew ch 5 vv. 13-16 to be as “salt” and as “light” in the world. Accordingly we pray in this Collect that the “course of this world" may be “peaceably ordered” by the governance of the Lord, rather than be allowed to collapse into chaos … so that “Thy Church may joyfully serve thee in all godly quietness”. How we see in today’s circumstances of the chaotic and tragic slide from the Christian worldview in the public square of the West, and its effect upon the Church, the stark poignancy of this prayer! May we pray indeed that the Lord’s “governance” may be received afresh by all who influence the course of the world!
The theme of the Collect seems especially resonant at this time with Prayers for the mighty United States of America on Independence Day and for the tiny Cayman Islands on Constitution Day, May these both become even in our time “peaceably ordered” by the governance of the Lord!
For directions about the services this Sunday the 4th July, the Fifth Sunday after Trinity, please see the website www.TruthWithLanguage.com .
In reliance upon the mighty power of the Triune God to keep us faithful to and in all truth, I am in your service