In the Anglican tradition, of which the Episcopal Church of the United States is part, faith is said to rest on a "three-legged stool." Those three legs are Scripture, Tradition and Reason, each of equal importance. Each one is a guide, but none stands alone. All three must work together to keep us moving in the right path.
- Scripture: Scripture is the word of God contained in the Old and New testaments of the Bible. The 39 books of the Old Testament contain the story of God's love from Creation up to the birth of his son, Jesus Christ. They contain God's law as He gave it to the Hebrew people. The New Testament contains Christ's teachings, the accounts of his life as told by his followers, and the beginning of his church. It is written in 27 books. Within an Episcopal worship service, Scripture is read in the lessons, the Gospel (the teachings of Jesus), the Psalms (poems from the Old Testament) and other prayers. Additionally, two-thirds of our guide to worship, the Book of Common Prayer, comes directly from the Old and New Testaments. Episcopalians believe that Holy Scripture was written by people under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
- Tradition: We are not Christians in isolation but are part of a living faith that spans 2000 years. Tradition is the embodiment of our experience as Christians throughout the centuries. The heart of our tradition is expressed through the Bible, the Creeds (statements of faith, written in the first centuries of the church's existence), the Sacraments (the Lord's supper and Baptism), and the ordained ministry passed on by Christ to his Church. Our tradition is expressed with many voices, among which are a variety of worship styles, languages, cultures, architecture and music. Our tradition encourages this diversity. We seek to value the life and story each person can bring to the community of faith. As in a multitextured tapestry, each person's offering is woven into the life of the whole, making it stronger and more beautiful.
- Reason: Each one of us, with God's help, makes a decision about how we use tradition and Scripture in our lives. A personal relationship with God allows us to realize and celebrate our lives to the fullest. The gift of reason, as a complement to Scripture and tradition, leads us to seek answers to our own questions and to grow spiritually. Being active in a community of faith strengthens us to carry our faith into the world. Weaving scripture, tradition and reason together, we strengthen our faith and grow as children of God.
At Emmanuel, Jesus is our role model as well as our Savior. Just as Jesus welcomed everyone to share a meal, at Emmanuel all are welcome at our table. We do our best to emulate the ministry of Jesus in our outreach, formation and worship. And we try to live out our baptismal covenant by striving for justice and peace and respecting the dignity of all people.
Dear Lord, you bless us with the gifts of Scripture, tradition and reason and with them you empower us as your children to draw closer to you; be present with all who seek to learn more about you and to become members of your community of faith, carrying your message of love and peace into the world. Amen