Five Areas of Call - Constant Renewal
Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the Pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good as long as you live so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. - Psalm 103, vs. 1 – 5.
God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; Open our eyes to see your hand at work in the world about us. Deliver us from the presumption of coming to this Table for solace only, and not for strength; for pardon only, and not for renewal. Let the grace of this Holy Communion make us one body, one spirit in Christ, that we may worthily serve the world in his name. - BCP, - pg. 372.
The Priest-in-Charge Discernment Team found it helpful to identify components of renewal. The components we identified were: examination of our sense of call, worship, hope & trust, and the Renewal Apostolate cycle. We’ll touch on each of those in a little detail.
Examination of our sense of call begs us to ask “Who are we?” and “Who are we called to be?” The answers to these questions change in two dimensions. Individuals change because of life experiences and as they mature in their faith. In addition to these changes within individuals, our congregation changes as new members come and others leave. Congregations should be asking these questions about identity on an ongoing basis. It is clear that these questions have not been asked of St. Paul’s for several years.
Worship forms the primary attachment that members have to St. Paul’s. Our liturgy is grounded in tradition and substance, and has sustained our community of faith through times of turbulence. Continuity and tradition and liturgy form a foundation that allows this community to stay strong. Worship speaks to where we are now as well as where we have been. It needs to balance staying fresh, while at the same time respecting our traditions. This need to stay contemporary at times results in such scandalous things as revisions to our Book of Common Prayer.
The words “hope” and “trust” bring images of an empowered present and a greater future. We are empowered by these virtues to meet life head-on and we have the will and vitality to envision and work toward a better future. We identified two aspects of hope and trust. The first is the hope that we, as members of St. Paul’s, place in our relationships and the trust that we have in each other. The other aspect of hope is our understanding that death has been overcome, and that new life springs from all forms of dying, including the death of our bodies. The other aspect of trust is our trust in the promise of God that new life will actually come from death.
Finally, we invite people to look at life cycles. Birth and death are part of the cycle of life: babies are being born and older members die. The Renewal Apostolate Cycle is another rhythm of life. As described on the web site for the Order of the Ascension, an Episcopal Benedictine order,
“The Renewal - Apostolate Cycle is a way of describing a central dynamic of Christian life. The Cycle focuses our attention on the Christian’s movement between being renewed in baptismal identity and purpose and living as instruments of God’s love and grace in daily life. The Cycle is interested in both the individual’s movement and in the ways in which the parish church supports and facilitates that movement.”(1)
In the Renewal – Apostolate Cycle members of the congregation are shaped, formed, and fed primarily in the Sunday worship service, but also through the interactions and programs that are offered. The members are then sent out as apostles to do the work of Jesus in the world. That work includes healing, liberation, and sharing the Word of God in the broadest definitions of those actions. The work of forming apostles is foundational to the ongoing life of our parish (or any other parish, for that matter).
How does our worship inform who we are communally and individually?
(1) Taken from Order of the Ascension web site.