We are on twin, synergistic journeys—the journey inward and the journey outward. That is to say that we pursue biblically based, grace-enabled spiritual transformation in order to be the cooperative friends of Jesus who, for the sake of others, live constant lives of creative goodness through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Holy Trinity Anglican Church in Costa Mesa, California is engaged in a straightforward and plain journey: we seek intimacy with Jesus and transformation into his likeness, becoming his cooperative friends…for the sake of others. This missional journey flows from our values. Our values are derived from the biblical story. This set of values is intended to shape who we are, what we do and how we do it. Our philosophy of ministry, especially as it is witnessed and experienced during Sunday worship, is marked by three core priorities: thoughtfulness, quietness and beauty.
The world as it presently stands is growing in the scope and complexity of its problems, troubles, disputes and challenges. Perplexity, confusion, fear, worry, anxiety and hopelessness color the internal lives of more and more people in our mission field—Orange County, California. Adults are stressed out, over-burdened, over-indebted and over-calendared. Ask any teacher, constant worry and nervous-tension also grip students; junior high, senior high school and college. Our out-of-work young adults also do not escape this reality.
This circumstance, this cultural reality, is not one in which we can fight fire with fire. We don’t counter complexity with complexity. But we must answer thoughtfully if we are to serve our time and our place in history well. To respond to the messy fretfulness in our own hearts and those of our neighbors, we root our worship and followership of Jesus in the uncomplicated intelligence given to us in liturgy, in Word and Sacrament.
The Opening Acclamation that begins our worship roots our lives in the most decisive of all profundities: God and his Kingdom.
Various prayers teach and facilitate conversation with God—they cleanse our hearts; they lead us to more perfectly love God and worthily magnify him in all aspects of our lives.
Reading scripture aloud shapes our imagination around the reality that God is superintending our planet, bringing his will to completion in the midst of the world’s current turmoil.
Sermons comment on these readings to teach us how to be participants in God’s unfolding story. Silent pauses between readings and after the sermon create spaces to reflect on what we have heard.
Saying the Apostle’s or Nicene Creed is an opportunity to weekly affirm our “Yes!” to the story of scripture, to publicly announce our allegiance to Christ.
The Prayers of the People teach us intercession. They guide us into praying for people (for instance, politicians of a rival party) and issues (global hardships) we may not even care about when left to ourselves. These prayers ground us—through faith, confidence and peace (“…in peace we pray to you…”)—in the action of God who delights in responding to our prayers.
Confession of sin and God’s absolution keep tight reigns on the desires of our hearts.
Eucharist (Holy Communion) facilitates our apprentice-ship to Jesus by weekly memorializing our salvation in Christ and mediating to us a participation in his ongoing life. Jesus’ redemptive and sacrificial life is the antidote to the death in us and in our troubled world. Our participation in Eucharist is a weekly invitation to reconnect our lives to the power and blessing of the cross. As the Eucharistic prayer says: dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life…renew us by your Spirit, inspire us with your love and unite us in the body of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Prayer of Thanksgiving after Eucharist sends us into the world in peace to love and serve God and neighbor with gladness and singleness of heart.
Like the relentless beat of a metronome, the intelligence inherent in the above rhythm of prayer, word and sacrament, locks our lives into step with Jesus, with his kingdom agenda in the world.
Core practices for spiritual growth are solitude—and its partner—silence. In solitude we can only hear two voices. One voice makes heard the inner shouts of our worries and anxieties, and the clamoring din of desire. The other voice is the loving, reordering and re-orienting expression of God. In solitude we discover that we are not alone.
Rightly practiced, quietness, and its companion solitude, are more than a physical separation from the noise, people and events of our life. Quietness creates in us a new quality of heart, an peaceful inner disposition that one takes with them into the rhythms and routines of their actual life.
Words are everywhere. We live in word-saturated world. The God-created spiritual aspect of humankind was not designed to live in constant wordy noise. It is like asking a bird to fly that has been drenched by an oil spill.
At Holy Trinity we practice—especially in our pre-service Prelude—the quiet contemplation of solitude and silence because even our liturgy can become wordy. Thus each week we make space for pauses, for silence. In these spaces between words we make ourselves present to God.
Contrary to the normal accounts in the news, God is healing the world. He has not abandoned his creation. In fact, he is coming ever closer to the world to reconcile it to him. God is renewing the whole cosmos in his image. This renewal and reconciliation happens through Jesus, the world’s true Lord and King.
Artists pay attention to the intricate details of life. Living on the margins, they often give fresh witness to the majesty of nature or point to the humancondition and need of reconciliation. Thus arts and beauty have a key role to play in getting this message, The Gospel, out. The arts are not just the pretty, decorative aspects of church. If the whole person is in view when we speak of spiritual formation—and it is—then we need to speak to and deal with the whole person. We cannot do this without the arts—sanctified and empowered by the Holy Spirit—active and alive in the worship and work of the church, creating sacred spaces and sacred times, highlighting the art already inherent in the liturgy—drama, literature, sound, touch and taste.
Art creates and inspires imagination in a unique way. Presently, we may not be able to imagine a Gospel-filled world in which God reigns in love and justice for all. But there is a way forward: employing art and beauty. Freed, blessed and embraced artists have unique giftedness. By God’s power, grace and love they draw our imaginations into the God-shaped vision of our lives and the whole world being pulled ever gently into alignment with his ultimate intention for humanity.
Art and the arts help in these powerful ways for more reasons than can be articulated here, but not least because they transcend a purely pragmatic view of reality. Theirs is a language of the intuition, of the senses, of evocative communication and expression that enable us to listen, contemplate and garner new perspectives that are not easily available to us in other ways.