Looking for a Church (part 2)
From Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen:
To His Grace Archbishop Thomas Cranmer of Canterbury –
I am desirous, My Lord, of such refuge that I might hear and receive the prayers and supplications of thy Book of Common Prayer. Many times have I sought but it availeth nothing. Last Sunday, My Lord, I did attend a church which back in the 16th century thou wouldst have called a real beaut. It betokeneth the less of decent order and the more of interior design. For where it accustometh us there be candles upon the Table of the Lord, most conveniently displayed, the one on the right hand and the one on the left, signifying and representing unto us the Epistle and the Holy Gospel, here the twain were set very delicately all upon one end, such that men might exclaim, “Behold, how dinky! Of a truth this belongeth in the Ideal Homes catalogue.”
The Minister essayed fair of speech, howbeit he was wont to intrude an exceeding loftiness of tongue which hath more of that delivered by the courtly players than that which is seemly in God’s dwelling-place, so that I did ponder in my heart what manner of salutation this might be. And when it cometh even unto that the prayer for the whole state of Christ’s church militant here in earth, he spake also sundry fancies and decorations to vex the ear, to wit, “especially the people of Syria and our economy here at home.” Other were there also among the superfluity of naughtinesses.
It is written, thy house shall be a house of prayer but these have turned it into a den of manifold and great adornment upon the pillars and even unto the roof thereof, behold gorgeous writings and upon the very walls also. So that them that were met together therein might murmur among themselves, “What abomination is this which standeth in the holy place?”
Moreover, Your Grace, I was astonied and sore discomfited for that it was proclaimed which Supper of the Lord should be upon the morrow, the “Priest” might be a woman. My Lord, how can these things be? And so I went my way sorrowing, for my soul waxed very heavy, and pondered within myself why, as scripture saith, I cain’t get no satisfaction. Then I came to myself and did anoint my face and gird up my loins and did purpose what I should do, even that I should cease not from walking up and down the earth seeking that comfort and resting place wherein the Ministers and Stewards of thy Holy Word do speak in a language understanded of the people and all things be accomplished in a decent order.
How long, O Lord, how long?
Rev'd Dr Peter Mullen is an author and former rector of St Michael's, Cornhill in the City of London.