Our Vision of Worship
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks more graciously than the blood of Abel. Hebrews 12:22-24
Through baptism, we have come into union with the risen Christ. The Father has “made us alive together with Christ … and raised us up with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:5,6). Therefore, at every Eucharistic celebration, we join in the worship of the heavenly realm (Rev 4 & 5). We are surrounded by thousands upon thousands (and ten thousand times ten thousands) of angels sent to assist us (Heb 1:14; Rev. 5:11); in Christ, we are in communion with the church of the first-born enrolled in heaven, “the glorious company of apostles, the noble fellowship of prophets, and the white-robed martyrs” (BCP, page 95).
In liturgical worship, we unite with the one Body of Christ, in heaven and on earth. Through the death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ, death has been trampled down by death. Christ is risen and we have risen in Him. We believe in the communion of the saints, our victorious brothers and sisters who intercede before the throne of God (Rev. 5:8; 8:3-5). We are greatly supported and encouraged by countless millions of prayer warriors!
The Book of Common Prayer is a primary resource for corporate and private worship. Ancient liturgical worship is centered in Jesus Christ and his cosmic renewal project (making all things new – Rev. 21:5). Through his incarnation, death, resurrection, ascension, reign and promised return to earth, the stage is set for universal restoration (Acts 3:19-21; Rev. 21-22). Death and decay have been trampled down by the death of the living one, Jesus Christ. His incarnation initiated the great reversal of death, a cataclysmic uniting of divinity and humanity. In the death and resurrection of the Son of God, we have been restored as sons and daughters of God. As St. Paul concludes, nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
The early Church interpreted the whole of scripture through the lens of the crucified and risen Lord. Beginning with the Law, the Psalms and the Prophets, the risen Lord revealed how the whole of scripture was pointing to his redemptive project. The whole liturgy of the Eucharistic celebration, from start to finish, proclaims the greatest story ever told. The three-year Sunday lectionary is the prime structure for preaching the Gospel – not a gospel of mere personal salvation but a Gospel involving the story from Genesis to Revelation: Creation, Incarnation, Re-Creation.
Music, Singing and Chanting
While our theology is unchanging, handed down to us as the faith “once for all delivered to the saints” expressed in both Scripture and holy tradition, our musical approach is both ancient and modern. In this way, we are theologically conservative and cautiously culturally progressive (our theology informs our cultural expressions). We sing the psalms (various means from singing melodies to chanting), the great hymns of the Church, modernized hymns and select contemporary worship songs (reflective of orthodoxy). We have a high value for writing our own musical compositions. Sing a New Song to the Lord.
We seek to transcend normative contemporary worship genres which replicate pop culture. While we critically draw from contemporary worship resources, we desire to reclaim ancient and contemporary global / ethnic contributions in worship. A wide range of indigenous acoustic instruments are welcomed in our worship.
Our preaching and our music seek a modern vernacular appropriate to our mission of declaring the praises of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light. The call to rejoice with trembling (Psalm 2:11) portrays a common thread of tension we seek to honor. The writer of the book of Hebrews concludes, “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb. 12:28, 29).
Ancient Christian Symbols
The heavenly worship depicted in John’s Apocalypse portrays an atmosphere filled with joy, reverence and awe as the saints and angels sing and prostrate themselves around the Throne of God (Rev 4-5). “Day and night they never stop saying: ‘Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come (Rev. 4:8b).’” The heavenly worship is filled with both solemnity and anticipation of the final consummation of the Kingdom of God
Our worship is informed by the vast repository of ancient Christian symbols and icons. We seek to reclaim the power of symbols pointing to the greater reality of Christ’s victory over the powers.
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit in worship and life
We believe that our worship is to be a fully charismatic experience rooted in the Trinity: the intertwining of the Love of the Father, the Grace of the Son and the communion of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit glorifies the Son. He distributes gifts to edify the Body of Christ. The Holy Spirit’s presence brings life to mere structures and forms. He is the Spirit of Truth. He is also a God of proper order. The ancient Church grew in their liturgical forms while maintaining a proper place to test the gifts of the Holy Spirit (Phil. 3:3; I Thess. 5:19-22).
We believe that the Eucharist can be a means of healing one’s body, soul and spirit. Prayer, the laying on of hands, anointing with oil, all ancient forms of ministry would be provided at the altar, the locus of heaven touching earth. Words of blessing, prophecy, encouragement would flow from listening while administering the body and blood of Christ. Ministry at the altar must not revert to mere form but aim to release and bless a dynamic encounter with Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.
We are a sacramental community who recognize the wonder of God’s grace in all of creation (e.g., Rom. 8). Bread and wine become more than a symbol of Christ’s body and blood (how this occurs is not our concern. Christ commands us to take and eat, not take and analyze). The primordial waters of Genesis, prefigure baptism, as the Holy Spirit hovers over our coming forth as new creation. The sacred waters of new birth in baptism become an entrance and participation in the death and resurrection of Jesus and incorporated into the Body of Christ, the Church.
We also affirm other sacramental rites (mysteries – Greek) such as Ordination (holy orders), Confirmation (chrismation), Reconciliation of the Penitent (confession), Holy Matrimony, and Unction (anointing of oil for healing the sick).
Calendar Spirituality – The Churches enactment of the Gospel
Liturgical worship is organized by Christ centered themes throughout the calendar year. We celebrate the rhythms of Christ’s redemptive project. We pray both spontaneous prayers and the crafted prayers of saints who live and reign with Christ in the heavenly realm.
In structuring our lives and worship around the liturgical cycle of the Church calendar, we seek to sanctify time. Something mysteriously happens in and through all of our feasts, as we offer up worship to the King of Glory. Something happens in my life as I fix my eyes on Jesus in the liturgical cycle of the Church. This is what Alexander Schmemann calls the sanctification of time. In the fall of the human race, time began to travel towards death. Psychologists have observed that the human condition is always attempting to escape the ultimate awareness of death. To live in time is to know and observe finality. The young eventually grow old. Nothing is permanent. Thus, time is the very icon, a picture of our fallen world under death’s reign.
The Gospel proclaims the defeat of death, the renewal of the cosmos. The great feast of the Resurrection, the climax of the liturgical cycle, is “the appearance in this world, completely dominated by time and therefore by death, of life that shall have no end”. Jesus Christ, in our world driven by time, rose from the dead. This is our frame of ultimate reference and the central theme of our faith! Christ is risen! He is risen, indeed! The firstborn of new creation, the firstborn from among the dead, the heir of life eternal, has restored creation, calling us into inseparable communion with the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Christ, in his resurrection, has redirected time toward life eternal. The liturgical cycle celebrates this great reversal of time, of death, of our lives, in Christ, our Lord. And every Sunday Eucharist is a little Easter. Alleluia! And so, the celebration of Advent takes us back to the beginning of the story.