As I heard it, the rector started by giving us the history of empire as he understands it:
Authorities and Empires fall (no mention of cause and effect).
Then exercising his right as an authority, he cast America as the authority figure Pharaoh and predicted the fall of (here it comes again) the "American Empire" in the next 100-200 years.
And you thought the Episcopal Church was a non-prophet organization.
Then, we jumped back to the next authority mentioned in today's readings in Matthew 16:13-20, "Petros" (AKA the Catholic Church), the infallible Bishop of Rome and his measly 2000 year dynasty. We then bounced up to the Protestant Reformation, Luther, and the rapid splintering of Protestantism into "37,000" sects in part because of the notion of the "infallible" Bible. (What about the printing press, literacy, and those people translating Bibles?)
The next prophesy we heard was that at some point in the future the "infallible" Bible will be history and a new age will be born. In this future age we will actually live with God as the authority. This time was described as a cozy Church family of congregants doing good because that was all that one need do. Somehow we bypassed how to get from point "A" to point "B" without studying the Bible, and no mention of how Jesus might get us to point "B" (I guess it was assumed that we already knew that).
Charlie did not directly cite today's reading from Romans 12:1-8, but you can rest assured the lines,
"Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God-- what is good and acceptable"
must be the only thing we were to hear as authoritative today. (And don't dare read ahead to Romans 13.)
So why all the BCP mumbo jumbo. Why the Eucharist?
If I was lost before, to whom and or to what am I to turn? Forget the Bible, it's a fallible construct of man. I am lost in the desert and left to my mind's devices. Maybe I should call Sears and order an idol of a golden calf. If I do not refer back to the Biblical history of the Hebrews what will stop me?
I think Charlie wandered way off the orthodox path and my fear is that someone might follow him.
The following perspective from the CoE newspaper may sound more authoritative than my rant,
"A Church under judgement"
Source: Church of England Newspaper, August 22 edition, pg. 23
By Andrew Carey
"At the recent Lambeth Conference I had a couple of conversations with so-called 'conservative' Americans, both amongst the press and the bishops. I was even able to give the Bishop of Springfield (no relation to 'The Simpsons') some pointers on the rules of cricket as we snatched five minutes in the bar to watch England being clinically defeated by South Africa.
Their depressing and urgent situation in The Episcopal Church becomes ever clearer over time, despite all of the efforts of their liberal church leaders to try and persuade the rest of the Anglican Communion that really we're just like you. Close watchers of the US, and readers of this newspaper, will be more aware than most of the state of that Church. Heterodoxy is never punished, whereas orthodox impatience is the subject of lawsuits all over the country. And the amount of heterodoxy uttered in The Episcopal Church is truly astonishing. Even leaving aside the virtual atheism of Bishop Spong's 'Twelve Theses', we've had bishops claim that the church can 're-write the Bible', others make sweeping apologies for Christian mission to those of other faiths, while the Presiding Bishop views Jesus as just one way among many.
Furthermore, they've had scandals the likes of which would destroy the Church of England in the eyes of the world, with our much more effective national press conducting the funeral rites. They've had thrice-divorced bishops, a child-abusing bishop, as well as one who's covered up sex abuse by his brother, a priest. There's been a drug-dealing priest, others who've been exposed in a pornographic magazine for engaging in bizarre sex with Brazilians. This is truly only the tip of the iceberg. Any one or two of these cases would have been a national scandal in Britain, in the US it's only a few column inches.
With whole parishes and dioceses deserting the national Church amid such widespread heterodoxy and scandal, followed by a wave of litigation and squabbling over property, it's impossible to see The Episcopal Church as anything other than a disaster area. If there ever was a Church under the judgment of God, it is this one."
I accept that God is the final authority. I do not accept the notion that you can be a Christian congregation without Biblical and earthly authorities. And I know well the need to question authority and I accept the consequences of raising these questions.
Lack of authority in the Episcopal Church is one reason behind the fall of the Episcopal Empire (which was one empire not mentioned today).
We left the Church singing "O Zion, Haste" Following the instructions in the hymn, I publish it here.
O Zion, haste, thy mission high fulfilling,
to tell to all the world that God is Light;
that he who made all nations is not willing
one soul should fail to know his love and might.
Publish glad tidings: tidings of peace
tidings of Jesus, redemption and release.
Behold how many thousands still are lying
bound in the darksome prison house of sin,
with none to tell them of the Savior's dying,
or of the life he died for them to win. Refrain
'Tis thine to save from peril of perdition
the souls for whom the Lord his life laid down;
beware lest, slothful to fulfill thy mission,
thou lose one jewel that should deck his crown. Refrain
Proclaim to every people, tongue, and nation
that God, in whom they live and move, is Love;
tell how he stooped to save his lost creation,
and died on earth that all might live above. Refrain
Give of thy sons to bear the message glorious;
give of thy wealth to speed them on their way;
pour out thy soul for them in prayer victorious
till God shall bring his kingdom's joyful day. Refrain
He comes again! O Zion, ere thou meet him,
make known to every heart his saving grace;
let none whom he hath ransomed fail to greet him,
through thy neglect, unfit to see his face. Refrain
Words: Mary Ann Faulkner Thomson, 1870
But by what authority can I publish glad tidings in this new age without my fallible Bible? The new age religion, by it's rejection of the Bible is not going to have any authority with which to help people find The Way. There will be "none to tell them of the Savior's dying."