"The Preachers chiefly shall take heed that they teach nothing in their preaching, which they would have the people religiously to observe and believe, but that which is agreeable to the Doctrine of the Old Testament and the New, and that which the Catholick Fathers and Ancient Bishops have gathered out of that Doctrine." A proposed canon of Elizabeth I, 1571

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Location: Bedford, Texas, United States

I am a presbyter in the diocese of Fort Worth, Texas (Anglican Church in North America). I serve as Chaplain at St. Vincent's School and as a canon of St. Vincent's Cathedral Church in Bedford, Texas. In addition to my parish duties and teaching Religion classes in the school I am also the Middle School Social Studies teacher.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Avebury Church

Avebury church, Saxon and Norman, Avebury, England. Posted by Hello

I was studying in England in the summer of 1989 when I had an experience of the Holy Spirit that changed the course of my life. Before that summer I had been a strict materialist, an "agnostic" who was for all practical purposes an atheist. I will probably tell the story of that experience on this blog some other day. But for now, suffice to say that one minute I didn't believe in God and the next I couldn't doubt the reality of the divine. I wasn't certain how to understand that contact with Divinity yet, and I was not yet consciously a Chirstian, but I knew that my old understanding of the world was entirely wrong. There was a God and that God loved me. That I knew now. The subsequent course of my summer after that event in late June, 1989, involved trying to make sense of God's touching of my heart. I was in England to study English social geography in a summer program at Oxford. But in fact most of my subsequent summer was spent reading on spiritual themes (I bought a 1662 Prayer Book, for example) and visiting "holy sites" trying to understand a sacred reality that I had discounted my entire life. One of the sites I visited was Avebury. It has an Iron Age stone circle of roughly the same date as Stonehenge, and that is what draws most of the tourists. But the old church in Avebury is what captivated my imagination. It has both Saxon and Norman elements. Hard as it is to believe, this was the first Christian church in which I ever sat and prayed. If ever there was someone who didn't know how to pray, it was me then. And of course those prayers were directed toward "God, whoever you may be." I assume the Holy Spirit interpreted even those miserable "groanings." It was a crucial first step on my road into God's arms. I haven't been back to Avebury since, but that day still means a great deal to me.


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