Friday, November 11, 2016

John Michael Talbot & "The Ancient Path"

About two and a half weeks ago I had the opportunity to hear, in person, for the second time, John Michael Talbot.  For those unfortunate folks who don't already know John Michael . . . you've gotta' get to know him!  You can find his website, here.

I was first introduced to John Michael by reading a piece from a bishop in the Charismatic Episcopal Church (as I recall), who talked about his journey toward the ancient liturgy.  He made mention of all of these guys who shared this journey and how they would all listen to John Michael's music.  It was just a mention, but it caused me to look up who this guy was who had influenced others who were, like myself, drawn toward the ancient liturgy.  -  I am so glad I did!

It was probably just after its release that I picked up John Michael's Simple Heart CD.  We were on vacation, as I recall, and it was a stressful time for me.  (It seems that I have a lot of those!  This is, in part, due to my convictions about the Wesleyan/Anglican liturgical and sacramental commitments and trying to live those out in what has too typically been a non-liturgical/sacramental setting.  -  Some who read this blog understand well the frustrations that I am talking about.  But . . .)  -  What a blessing this CD was and has continued to be over the years!!!

John Michael has released about 55 albums over the years.  I only have a fraction of them (about 17, I think).  Simple Heart remains a favorite of mine, and I find myself listening to it often.

During this last concert, I "branched out" and picked up one of John Michael's books: The Ancient Path: Old Lessons from the Church Fathers for a New Life Today.  I'm only 64 pages into this 194 page book, but already, like his music, I am loving it.

Thus far, he has shown the nature of spiritual "fathers" in the Christian Church.  I think that this is something that people often leave out when writing about and reading the Church Fathers, but it deepens for us their writings, their lives and their significance to our lives and faith.  -  Of course, this is also helpful for many who are not a part of a tradition that addresses their clergy as "Father," and who view it with suspicion due to Jesus' instructions about such titles.  -  (As a related aside: I've never particularly liked it when people have referred to John Wesley as "Father John."  I've thought that they were imposing a contemporary title for contemporary Anglican priests, upon one who never used the title and who lived in a time when Anglican priests did not use the title.  However, after reading this part of John Michael's book, I see the appropriateness of this title for Wesley [even if many who have used it have not!].)

This morning I posted a two paragraph quote from the book on Facebook.  (And John Michael commented on my post!  How cool is that!)  -  This quote focuses on the nature of the Church, salvation and the sacraments.  I found it very much in line with the ecclesiology that I have come to hold as I have grown in my commitment to Wesley's Anglican liturgical and sacramental theology.

I trust that many of you will resonate with what John Michael wrote:

     The Church, in fact, was the ordinary means of salvation, established by Jesus, and it applied  
     salvation by means of the sacramental mysteries, also established by Jesus. Three thousand were
     baptized on Pentecost (Acts 2:41), and their life afterward was centered on Eucharist: "the
     apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

     That is the same Church I encountered in the works of the Apostolic Fathers. They shared Saint
     Peter's conviction that "baptism . . .now saves you" (1 Peter 3:21) and Saint Paul's belief in the
     Eucharist as a communion in the Body and Blood of Jesus (1 Corinthians 10:16-17). I encountered
     the ideal harmony between personal salvation and reception of the sacraments as a Spirit-filled,
     life-giving personal encounter with Jesus Christ.

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