Background

Worship is central to our life and mission. The primary purpose of worship in the Anglican tradition is not to entertain, edify, motivate or instruct, but rather to render to God the praise that is his due. In the process, we may find our hearts, minds and spirits lifted into God’s presence so that we may receive a foretaste of heaven. If we attend worship regularly, we shall grow spiritually and become more and more the people that God created us to be. The point of worship is not what we get out of it, but rather what we offer up.

Worship in our tradition is liturgical in that it follows an ordered and predictable pattern. While our liturgy may seem bewildering and confusing to someone attending for the first time, it quickly becomes familiar to those attending Sunday after Sunday. Most Sundays the same things are said and done in much the same sequence. Paradoxically this highly structured order of service is not stifling but liberating. Not having to re-invent the wheel each week we gain the freedom to concentrate on worshiping God.

Worship at St. Barnabas is sacramental in two senses of the word. First, it gives a central place to the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist as the appointed means by which we receive God’s grace and strength. Secondly, because we are not pure intellects or disembodied spirits, our worship engages us in the fullness of our humanity, body and soul, by means of visible signs and symbols that appeal to our sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste. For this reason, our worship is deeply and richly sensual making full use of music, incense, candles, vestments, sacred images and ceremonial as the vehicles through which our hearts and minds are lifted to the unseen God.

Finally, our worship is corporate in that it is the activity of all the gathered assembly. God did not create us to be isolated individuals. As human beings, we find the fullness of our identity in relationship with others. For this reason, the liturgy fulfills our nature as social beings by bringing us together as members of a community. Worshiping together we grow in our ability to forgive one another as God has forgiven us and to love our neighbors as ourselves.