Four Advent devotions, written by four heads of Anglican and Lutheran churches in North America, will soon be available for members of all four churches.
On Oct. 12-13, Archbishop Fred Hiltz, primate of the Anglican Church of Canada, met with National Bishop Susan Johnson, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC); Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, of The Episcopal Church (TEC); and Bishop Elizabeth Eaton, of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). The meeting, held at the ELCA office in Chicago, was the four bishops’ latest four-way dialogue, a tradition of informal annual meetings begun in 2010. It was Curry’s first meeting with the group since his installation in November as head of The Episcopal Church.
One highlight of the meeting, Hiltz said, was the bishops’ completion of the Advent devotions, which they will now share with their churches—one devotion for every Sunday of Advent. The devotions are on the theme of next year’s 500th anniversary of the Reformation: “Liberated by God’s Grace,” and three of the theme’s subheadings: “salvation not for sale, human beings not for sale and creation not for sale.”
The devotions will soon be available on the Advent 2016 Resources page of the Anglican Church of Canada website, says national office web manager Brian Bukowski.
Advent this year begins Nov. 27.
The four leaders are also planning to issue a joint letter for Ash Wednesday, March 1, 2017, which will focus on the plight of refugees. “We looked at the Litany of Penitence for Ash Wednesday…the line that talks about our indifference to cruelty and human suffering, and we talked a bit about the situation in Syria,” he said in an interview. “Some are saying already that the whole world will have a lot to answer for, in time, for what it has allowed to happen.”
They also discussed the possibility of having “continuing education” by inviting guest speakers at the meetings to update them on shared concerns—Indigenous ministries, for example.
The bishops also agreed they would like to give more consideration to events in the two church’s international entities—the Lutheran World Federation and the Anglican Communion, he said.
They also talked about “the value of having a quiet morning together,” acknowledging that as national leaders they are constantly on the move. “Sometimes you feel like you are literally running from one event to another, or being shunted from one place to another. There’s hardly time, quite frankly, to breathe, let alone properly prepare,” he said.
Hiltz said he updated the other bishops on the events of General Synod this July. The four also heard reports on the progress of the two Anglican-Lutheran ecumenical bodies in Canada and the U.S., the Joint Commission for Anglican-Lutheran Communion in Canada and the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee.