Introduction to the Episcopal Church
Starting where we are:
We are St.Mary's-in-the-Valley, in Ramona, CA, in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, which is a diocese of The Episcopal Church. The Episcopal Church is a member of the Anglican Communion whose titular head is the Archbishop of Canterbury, who is first among equals in a leadership role in the Anglican Communion.
But let us start personally. Our Episcopal faith is not really about jumping through hoops for the church. It is about your and my relationship with God and each other. We are in a relationship with God whose reality and definition is clarified for us in the person of Jesus Christ. And since the historical person Jesus is no longer accessible to us, we believe that words of his life and teaching have been left to give us an adequate way to know that God loves and cares for us. People who were directly influenced by the life of Jesus have left us records of his words and life. But they passed the Spirit of Christ to a next generation of believers and this Spirit of Christ has been passed on in each generation since the first century to engage us now in our Christian lives.
We can believe in a creator God as Father or Founder in the sense that it is rather obvious that we came into a world of Plenitude with a history and prehistory that is unknowable to us. So we confess the great Mystery from where we have come. In a vast world, there is not a human mind that can comprehend the Whole. So how can we even trust whether the human mind can speak on behalf of the greater than human Being, God? We assume that God is enough like human beings to accept the superlative attributes of human beings as being an adequate place to begin to confess One who is more than human. The presence of Jesus in history and our belief that he was divinized, means that the confession of God as Son or Child of God is the acceptance of human experience as a valid way to come to a revelation or understanding about the existence of God as the One who is always on the horizon of human becoming.
Since it seems obvious to us that we are not alone in this world; we can experience each other and other creatures and things, we ask ourselves “What is it that allows us to have mutual experience of other sentient beings and non-sentient creation?” We confess an ever-present Essence that is able to conduct mutual experience. We confess the third member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is our confession that God’s creative Life is always with this world and is expressed as Freedom. And this Freedom is shared in real ways by all creation that is less than God. And so we know that the Freedom of God can be manifest in lesser freedoms in the created order and these results in the good and ills and competition of systems that account for our experience of good, bad, and evil.
Review your own history of how you have understood God in your life? How have you understood God, as Father, Son and Holy Spirit? Be honest about the doubts that you may have. Doubt is an honest response because we can’t possibly know everything. Doubt can be honest humility.