I was privileged today to attend a special carol service at Christ Church Spitalfields, which is the high-church Anglican congregation right next to my office. (Actually, I believe it is the “official” church of my workplace since my firm has its own chaplain and we belong to the parish served by Spitalfields Church — I’m not sure how “jurisdiction” works between the actual rector of Christ Church Spitalfields and my firm’s chaplain though.)
The service was a great experience and the choir was pretty much like most ward choirs in Mormon congregations. The carol service program was typical of high church services of this kind where hymns, in this case Christmas carols, were interspersed with different people reading a selection of scripture aloud from the printed program while everyone read along. The church was packed with staff from my firm, which was nice to see, and helped with the Christmas spirit because our numbers swelled the carols as most people sang along.
A visiting reverend delivered the actual sermon following the carols and readings, a thought-provoking sermon leading off with zingers from Oxford’s two most famous atheists: we heard a quote from Richard Dawkins on what he describes essentially as the maniacal God of the Old Testament and from Philip Pullman on the somewhat flaky God described there. These descriptions of God, it was suggested, were mere paper lions that obscure something deeper about the nature of God.
For me as a Latter-day Saint, however, the most interesting part of the sermon was the story told by the reverend. The reverend said that the parents of a three-year-old girl had another baby. Upon bringing the baby home from the hospital, the three-year-old immediately asked if she could see the baby in its room with the door closed for a while. The parents listened in on the baby monitor to see why she was asking this. As soon as they closed the door, they heard her footsteps as she went to the cradle and admired the baby. Then they heard her say, “Tell me what God is like — I’ve almost forgotten.”
The story was touching in the context of the sermon and is certainly very compatible with LDS doctrine and teachings. The real question for me, however, was what it was supposed to mean in a high-church Anglican sermon. Do Anglicans believe in the Pre-existence? If so, what is their view of it? What do they believe about Jesus Christ during the Pre-existence, i.e. as part of the Trinity but not yet incarnated?