Praying Shapes Believing
Having been raised and formed in another branch of Christianity, I fell in love with the Episcopal Church as a young adult because it felt roomy. By that I am not necessarily talking about the expanse of a particular building, but rather a spaciousness of mindset. I discovered that the teaching, preaching, and worship of the Episcopal Church left room for my doubts and uncertainties: “I’m not sure about…” and “I disagree that…” were just as welcomed as “Amen” (“so be it”). It was okay, perhaps even expected, that I would engage my faith thoughtfully and would bring my questions to the Altar with me.
Since its inception the Episcopal Church – which has its roots in the Church of England and the worldwide Anglican Communion – has held that we are bound together not by rigid adherence to doctrine, but instead by our common worship. Influenced by the Latin phrase, “lex orandi, lex credendi,” (translated loosely as “praying shapes believing”), the Episcopal tradition understands worship as fundamental to belief. If you go to church in any of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, you no doubt will find the liturgy familiar, as we all share the same basic structure of worship found in the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer. The words may differ according to language and culture, but the meaning is the same. Worship reminds us that, unique though we may be as individuals, we are part of something bigger. We are held together by our prayers of praise, petition, intercession, confession, and thanksgiving.
Because worship is so essential to who we are as Episcopalians, it is among my highest priorities as I begin my ministry among you. I felt it important that we worship together in one 10 AM service for at least the first couple of weeks, as a visible reminder that we are all part of the St. Dunstan’s branch of what our Presiding Bishop calls “the Jesus Movement.” While I haven’t had a chance to survey everyone (yet), the anecdotal feedback I’ve received thus far is that folks genuinely seem to enjoy worshipping together as one community. As a result, it feels right and organic that we continue with one service for the time being, while at the same time being open to the Spirit’s guidance as we move forward together. Specifically, the members of the St. Dunstan’s Liturgy and Worship Group and I are committed to finding ways to involve more children of all ages (the grown-up ones, too!) in worship; stay tuned for more details in the coming weeks.
This is a dynamic process, and I welcome – and rely upon – your prayerful feedback.
Your Sister in Christ,