Anglo-Catholicism grew as a movement of spiritual renewal in the Church of England in the mid 1800’s. The gift of the movement was and remains the intention to reach back into the spiritual gifts of the past in a way that allows them to breathe new life into the church and world of the present.
The Anglo-Catholic witness is alive to the unfathomable mystery of God; and the ungraspable riches of God’s grace. Therefore, Anglo-Catholicism has always been a counter-cultural movement. It is and has always been a protest against the forces of industrialism and consumerism that makes human beings small; and against everything that destroys the beauty of God’s image alive in every one of God’s creatures.
In the Anglo-Catholic worship and practice of this inheritance, we are helped to see the whole world as ‘sacrament,’ as an epiphany of the presence of God. If only we have the eyes to see, Christ gives himself to us everywhere and in every thing. This protest, this counter-cultural spirit, this openness to the mystery of God, this relinquishing of our anxiety-driven need to master all things — quietens us, so that God might be present for us.
This counter-cultural thread is what makes worship at St. Barnabas at first so strange, and later begins to work God’s ‘metanoia’ (repentance) in us — literally, the embracing of thoughts beyond our present limitations, opening us up to possibility beyond merely human possibility.
Anglo-Catholic Worship is about listening and responding to the grace of God. Listening and responding are not sequential acts, but one simultaneous act ‘of praise and thanksgiving.’ We sing and pray, receive God’s word and sacrament, cross ourselves amidst rising incense.
All of these are ways of listening; all of them are ways of responding. Thus as we worship, we engage the whole of ourselves — body, mind, and spirit. We use gesture (genuflection, bowing, crossing ourselves), we engage our senses (music, incense, holy water, bells, candles, vestments), we are challenged by thoughtful preaching, we raise our voices in hymnody and in considered prayer. We welcome periods of silence.
The doors of St. Barnabas open into sacred space, and our worship is an act in sacred time; a time in which we enter into the grace of God; in which we are formed by God’s prophetic calling to be a people of service and love; in which we are invited to share in the beauty and mystery of God-for-us.