ANGLICAN IDENTITY: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION
The central identity of the Anglican Church through history has been and continues to be formation in common prayer, exercised through the Daily Offices (Morning and Evening Prayer) and through its Eucharistic Service (communion). The liturgies of Anglican Daily Offices and Eucharists are drawn from Scripture. The form or structure of these Scripturally based liturgies is intended to envelop worshipers into the Scriptural world, and specifically, into the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, experienced both on a daily basis and throughout the liturgical seasons of the year (Advent [the beginning of the New Year], Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost]). The traditional expectation was that having been drawn into God's own self revelation in Jesus Christ whom we encounter through daily, weekly, and seasonally structured liturgy, a person would experience God's sanctifying grace. It was and still is expected that exposure to liturgy drawn from Scripture, as well as specific Scriptural readings, will challenge people to examine their lives, to let go of those things inhibiting one's turning to or following Christ, and to go up to God, saying, 'here I am,' with hope, faith, and love, being willing to face into God's transformative grace.
The fundamental point of this constant exposure to Scripturally based, structured and common liturgical worship, is to constantly recall us to the God who made us and to whom we are inclined. Thereby with Christ, we might willingly make decisions about how we live our life in accordance with the God who is revealed in Scripture, even where we are, as Paul writes in Romans 7, struggling between the things of the 'flesh' and the things 'of the spirit adopted and bound to Christ.' The real challenge for us as modern Christians is twofold: first, many of us in mainline churches are unfamiliar with our scriptures in part, because we do not actually go to (and often don't have the opportunity), to go to Morning and Evening Prayers Services; second, we have the tendency to think of Scripture as being a rule book containing propositions we can follow or ignore, as suits our particular context. In this sense, we treat it as book of mere law, an historical artifact that provides mere examples to follow or not.
Anglicans have traditionally held however, that reading Scripture is actually an encounter with the living God, who in Christ draws us to himself through his Spirit. Why have they held to this position? One of the reasons we can draw from Paul's letter to the Corinthian Church (1 Cor 15): if the testimony we receive through Scripture is not an encounter with God; if it is not the reality into which we are being drawn - a reality we can make sense of as we find ourselves in the figures of Scripture standing before God - then our faith is in vain and we are left in sin (in war, violence, corruption, power, control, greed, lust, sloth, gluttony, envy, jealousy, anger, bitterness, lack of equality, pain, and yes, death) where those effects of sin come to define our value and worth as human beings.
The Anglican tradition has left us though with another way of understanding ourselves before God: realizing that we are being enfolded, or enveloped into the Scriptural world. While certainly this involves much mystery, and so patience, faith and trust, we are not blind. We have been given the Scriptures by God as his self-revelation, and our tradition has helped create a way for us to find our place before God. From its beginning, Anglicanism has used some form of lectionary, or daily and weekly reading of Scripture. Typically these readings were part of a Morning and Evening Prayer Service, and then a Sunday Eucharistic service. While few churches still have the resources to provide this sort of daily worship, we do still have a "Sunday lectionary" and a "weekday lectionary" reading schedule. Following the Sunday lectionary will draw a person through almost the whole of Scripture over three years (presuming one attends church or does the readings at least every Sunday), While reading thorugh the 'daily office lectionary' each day, will draw a person through most of Scripture each year.
LINKS TO ANGLICAN RESOURCES:
The Anglican Church of Canada provides the following link, updated daily, for the Daily Office Lectionary (Morning and Evening Prayer), and for the Sunday lectionary (typically a Eucharist Service, although in some places a Morning Prayer service occurs):
If you follow the Book of Alternative Services (Green BAS), here are the lectionary readings: BAS Lectionary Readings
If you follow the Book of Common Prayer (Red BCP), here are the lectionary readings: BCP Lectionary Readings
If you're interested in reading, or learning more about the Prayer Book services used in an Anglican service (typically the BAS, BCP), you can find PDF copies here: Liturgical Texts (available in English, French, Chinese, and Cree)
For a very brief history of the Anglican Church of Canada: History, Anglican Church of Canada (The preamble in the Book of Common Prayer (BCP) provides a brief explanation of the Anglican Church of Canada's standing within and in relationship to other Churches of the Anglican Communion.
For some background and understanding of the Anglican Communion, see the following link, as well as the subtitle headings, to explore Anglican history and theology (and current issues and tensions and relationships: Anglican Communion Members and Communion Resources