Anglican Church Was Introduced To Sri Lanka At The End Of The 18 Century
The Church of Ceylon is part of the worldwide Anglican fellowship. Does this mean that the Church of Ceylon is the Sri Lankan branch of the Church of England?
No, not at all. We are a member of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Therefore generally the Archbishop of Canterbury is considered as the head of the Anglican fellowship and not the head of the Anglican Church throughout the world.
What are the distinct features of our church? At times Anglican Church is called the bridge church. The reason for this is that the Anglican Church always has been to try to keep a healthy balance between any two extreme views of the same issue.
Let's take two examples for our edification.
Protestant churches generally believe that there are two sacraments namely Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist instituted by our Lord himself. Anglicans accept this view and also admit the fact that there are other 5 sacraments which are commonly called sacraments by the Church.
If you take the doctrine of the holy Eucharist: the church centred around Rome believes that the elements of bread and wine are transformed into the body and blood of Jesus after the Eucharistic prayer. The other extreme is that some protestant churches believe the Holy Eucharist is just a remembrance of the last supper of Jesus.
The Anglicans are advised not to have these extreme views but to consider this as a mystery where Jesus comes to our lives through the elements of bread and wine.
Also, one of the distinct characteristics of the Anglican Church is that we believe in three pillars of our church. They are the Holy Scripture, tradition and reason. Therefore as Anglicans, we build our faith on Holy Scripture by respecting our traditions and we do this by using God-given human season.
Therefore as the church of Ceylon, we have a responsibility to spread His Gospel by accommodating and respecting various traditions together.
According to Anglican spirituality very often Anglicans have been trying to be a part of the answer on various issues. Because of that generally Anglicans discourage extremism. As Anglicans and members of the Church of Ceylon, we discourage extremism because we get this attitude from our Lord and Master Jesus Christ.
This is very well given in the following Bible passage: -Matthew Ch: 11: 18-19 (Free translation)
"When John came without eating or drinking they said that he has a demon. When the son of man came with eating and drinking they said that he is a greedy person and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners. But the wisdom is proved right by her actions"
Extremism always leads us to destruction. But a deep understanding of the two extremes of any issue creates space for harmony and happiness for everybody.
This is one of the most important messages that we can convey to the rest of society on the teachings of Jesus.
Are we ready to promote this attitude of Jesus?