St. Francis in-the-Field Episcopal Church is situated on 46 mostly wooded acres in the heart of significant suburban development in northern St. Johns County, Florida. It makes St. Francis a haven, a sanctuary, in the midst of a ever-developing, busy world. There are fewer and fewer quiet places in our lives. St. Francis is one of those that is still thriving.
Yet it is not just our physical setting that makes room for contemplation, thought and prayer; our whole structure of worship does the same. We like to call it “Slow Worship.” The frenetic pace and focus of contemporary life even endangers our worship. At St. Francis in-the-Field there still exists deeply meaningful worship that draws from a deeper root.
Below is an explanation and reason, an apologia, for why we worship as we do at St. Francis.
What Is “Slow Worship?”
Historic Worship. Prayers and actions of worship that have spoken to people over many centuries can still speak to us today. Other Christians before us have handed down insights and “best practices” which reduce the learning curve of worship. There are core elements of worship which have stood the test of time. Slow Worship respects what G.K. Chesterton calls the “democracy of the dead.”
Heart Driven, Not Culture Driven. The press to remain culturally relevant is a fleeting lover: one who can become a task-master. Relevancy is relative. The hunger in the human heart for God and for redemption are timeless and universal, not yoked to the fads of contemporary pop culture. Slow worship draws on those deep and abiding responses to the human condition and God’s solutions to it.
God Focused, Not Person Focused. Simply stated, God is the focus of worship, not people. When we get our hands on “worship”, we make it into a concert, a multimedia fest, a group counseling session or a “personal growth opportunity.” These are all potentially valid pursuits and there are places for them; but they are not worship. Slow Worship focuses on God. The overflow this authentic focus often results in a meaningful and life-changing encounter. When we make the first thing first, good things flow forth secondarily.
Sacramental Grace. How do we as physical creatures have intimacy with an invisible God? God has given the Church sacraments: physical elements which God infuses with grace. Whether in the waters of baptism, the bread and wine of God’s presence, or the oil of healing, we, in our worship, continue to have profound encounters with our loving Father.
Liturgical Participation. The word “liturgy” means “the work of the people.” Slow worship allows for clear and coordinated ways for everyone to be active in corporate worship. Unlike services that are dependent on a single or several charismatic figures, the liturgy, composed of prayers which have stood the test of time, is offered as one body. The liturgy provides a way for us to all be on the same page in worship.
The Beauty of Holiness. The liturgy, the sacrament, the altar, the art, the kneeling, the music modern and ancient, the ceremonial, all contribute to our worship the “art of the heart.” Slow worship takes the time and creates the environment whereby we gaze into God. We enter into the beauty of God’s holiness.
Walking Together Towards the Lord. Slow worship provides the opportunity, if we will step into it, for a special depth of community with one another. If our attraction to a church is merely “the show,” when we lose interest in the entertainment offering, we move on the the next “hot” church and attend as long as it meets our fancy. Slow worship encourages us to put down roots and make connections with each other. It is an invitation to the family table where God fills our deepest hunger.
Remember that the moral of the fable of the Tortoise and the Hare is “slow and steady wins the race.” Though, in our culture, we often do not live that way, preferring the fast and flashy. Slow worship provides a way to live the faith for a lifetime. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.
Our primary service of Slow Worship is on Sunday Mornings at 10:00 AM. You are cordially invited to participate with us. Please call St. Francis in-the-Field for more information at 904-615-2130.
Learn more about the format of our Sunday worship.