We become what we receive through prayer, word, and sacrament.
In the Episcopal Church we believe that we are shaped by participating in Common Prayer, Dwelling in the Word of God, and receiving the Sacraments given to us by Jesus: Baptism and Eucharist.
Episcopalians are fond of the phrase "As we pray, so we believe," which comes from the Latin "Lex orandi, lex credendi." The shared practice of prayer is at the heart of the Anglican Communion. Churches, dioceses, bishops, parishes, priests, and parishioners can (and do!) disagree about the precise meaning and interpretation of scriptures, teachings, ideas about God, etc., but we all share a life of prayer. We use the Book of Common Prayer (or BCP) as a guide to help us pray: on Sundays, at special occasions, during the week, at home and in public.
Dwelling in the Word:
Hebrews 4:12 says that "...the word of God is living and active... ". We believe that the Bible "contains all things necessary to salvation." (BCP 526). That doesn't mean that we all agree on its interpretation - far from it! When we read the scriptures together, using every tool at our disposal - such as reason, experience, and inspiration from the Spirit - we learn something new every time, deepening our relationship with God.
When we participate in Bible Study, Book Groups, prayer retreats, and other forms of spiritual study, we become closer to God. Learn more about our Adult Formation opportunities here.
Sacraments are defined by the Book of Common Prayer as being "...outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace." That means that something we can see, taste, touch, hear, and smell is an indication of God's grace working inside of us.
In Baptism the water we can see, feel, and hear as it is poured into the basin becomes, through God's Spirit, the experience of God's love, forgiveness, and inclusion inside of us. When a person has been baptized, they make promises to do their best to live a life of Christ-centered faith. The congregation makes promises to support the newly baptised person in this life of faith. These promises of mutual support last for an entire lifetime. Since these promises are made between the baptisand and the congregation, baptism is ideally performed during one of the shared weekly worship services.
During Eucharist, we take the bread in our hands and lift the cup of wine to our lips, experiencing the food and drink in touch, smell, and taste before it becomes part of our physical bodies. Spiritually, we believe that, in sharing a meal as Jesus showed us, we become more like him. When the priest blesses the elements bread and wine, we say that they become the "body and blood of Christ." When we eat and drink these elements, they become part of our spiritual bodies.
Belonging - Prayer, Word, Sacraments:
Jesus said, "Where two or three are gathered in my name I am there among them." (Matthew 18:20). Each of us can spend time in prayer and reading the Bible on our own - in fact, we should! But the experience of Common Prayer, wrestling with the Word, and receiving the Sacraments must be shared with other members of the Christian Community (and the transformation that comes with sacraments can only come in community).
Our weekly worship is the first place to experience Christian belonging. We share Prayers, Scriptures, and Eucharist each week at our Saturday and Sunday services.