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On our philosophy of ministry: Worship

stoneSt. Paul’s is committed to God’s abundance in faith and practice. We believe that God gives us everything we need to worship God, to be friends with God, and to eat with God.* We live in God’s economy of abundance in our worship, our friendship and our table fellowship. We do this by receiving the many gifts that God gives us.

St. Paul’s receives God’s gifts through liturgical worship, which we understand to mean the “work of the whole people at their expense.” Through a full liturgy, we receive God’s gifts through Prayer, Scripture, and Sacrament. Our worship together includes singing, Scripture reading, proclaiming the Word, reciting creeds of our faith, passing the peace, offering our resources to God, celebrating the sacraments, and our commissioning into the world to love and serve the Lord. We believe we best receive God’s gifts through ongoing worship; we practice daily Morning prayer and Eucharist as well as Compline prayer.

In our worship, we also receive God’s gifts from those with whom we worship. For example, we believe that in order for us to worship well, we must receive God’s gift of children. We celebrate the presence of children in our common worship and we invite them to full participation.

We are created to worship God and enjoy God forever. Our receptive posture in worship reminds us that we must receive everything we need from God before we are able to offer our gifts in response. In response to God’s gifts in worship, we are nourished and sent out into the world as living signs of Christ’s love. Our full dependence on God enables us to live in God’s kingdom, where God sanctifies our life, time and space. In the Kingdom of God, we are challenged to respond imaginatively to the “problem” of a God who gives us too much. In our worship, God gives us the gift of Godself.

On our philosophy of ministry: Friendship

St. Paul’s receives God’s gifts through friendship. We believe that God invites us to be God’s friends. This friendship can never be exhausted. Rather, friendship with God is an adventure of intimacy whereby we draw closer and closer to the heart of God. Friendship with God heals the brokenness of our lives.

Through God’s reconciling work in Jesus, God makes possible our friendship with God and others. One way we become God’s companions is by befriending God’s friends. We believe God has a preference for the poor and marginalized. Accordingly, St. Paul’s pursues what some might consider surprising friendships in the hope that we might become better witnesses to the holy friendship that God makes possible.

Through friendship, we participate in the radical hospitality that God offers the world in Christ. We believe our lives should be marked by a disarming openness that is not ruled by fear. For example, by practicing communal prayer, we intercede for others and as a result, draw closer to those for whom we pray. Our prayer does not isolate us from the lives of others; rather, we draw close to those for whom we intercede in concrete and visible ways.

Friendship exposes our attempts to control our lives as we enter into life-giving relationships with others. Through our openness to God and one another, God frees us from a life of fear and isolation and embraces us as his friends. By receiving the gift of the “other”, of which God is the Other, we become friends with God.

On our philosophy of ministry: Eating with God

St. Paul’s receives God’s gifts by eating together.  We believe God invites us to be his companions.  By breaking bread together we receive God’s friendship.  Daily, the community of St. Paul’s receives Christ’s body and blood.  Through Morning Prayer and worship, we are learning to be a people who receive God’s gifts.

As we eat with God at his table, we become people who are better able to share God’s friendship and hospitality with the world.  We believe that sharing meals is an important Christian practice.  On the first Monday of every month we share a meal with our friends at the Simple Room.  Similarly, the second Sunday of every month, we share in a potluck-style meal directly following our Sunday morning worship service.  We believe that as we become God’s friends, we are better able to embrace the world in friendship and hospitality.

We believe that meal sharing is one of the most powerful ways that the church participates in the party that is the kingdom of God.  In God’s kingdom, the focus of the party is always on the relationships of those at the table.  Because it matters who is at table and who is not, it is our hope that all will feel welcome to join around our tables of fellowship.

God gives us everything we need to worship him, to be his friends, and to eat with him.  At the center of the church, at the center of our worship and friendship with God, is a party.  By eating with God and sharing meals with others, we take a seat at the table of our Lord, where there is always enough food and drink.  Forever.

* Our philosophy of ministry is informed by Sam Wells’s God’s Companions: Reimagining Christian Ethics (Wiley-Blackwell, 2006).