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Church of the Good Shepherd, Bonita

"As we gaze at your kingly brightness/ So our faces display your likeness/ Ever changing from glory to glory/ Mirrored here, may our lives tell your story. Shine, Jesus, shine..." Those lines from the opening hymn (one of many) caught something of the spirit pervading the Contemporary Communion Service at Good Shepherd. They touched on a profound and deeply traditional theological notion: that in beholding God, we are made like Him, and further, our own lives are a kind of participation in His divine life ("Mirrored here..."). But they were sung by a folk choir over a miked and twangy acoustic guitar, bongos, tambourines, handclaps, and a synthesizer.

The church itself shared in the feeling: a traditional (if cozy) inverted-ark, but entirely paneled with dark wood planks, giving the place a rustic feel. The Good Shepherd appeared in stained glass above the entrance, but all other windows were floor-to-ceiling '50s-style clear panes, looking out at the serene landscaping.

The congregation joined hands across the aisles for the "Our Father" -- a classically progressive practice. Reverend Calvert took pains to point out after the service that his was a "biblically orthodox congregation." Once again, tradition in modern garb, with frequent echoes of the old ways: the ornate gold cover on the Scriptures, a woman's half-genuflection before entering a pew, the prolonged elevation of the Eucharist.

The form and language of the liturgy, however, was pure tradition. From the collect: "Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace...to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity." This was Trinity Sunday, "one of the great holy days of the Church year," in Calvert's words.

The readings dwelt on the glory of God enthroned in heaven -- first Isaiah's vision of the Lord surrounded by Seraphim, and then John's vision of the Lord surrounded by the four creatures traditionally associated with the gospels: an eagle, a lion, an ox, and a man. In both cases, the Lord was receiving worship and glory from His attendant host. The Gospel was a much quieter affair, but it commanded all of Calvert's attention in the message: Christ telling his disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth."

"For the past 200 years, since the Enlightenment, we've been told that all we need is reason to put together the puzzles of life," proclaimed Calvert. "But life is too mysterious, too complex, to be figured out by reason alone. Our reason is limited and disordered.... Both Nazism and Communism claimed reason as their guide. Evil can seem so reasonable at times."

It wasn't that Calvert was down on reason: "Reason is good. I believe in reason. It's just that it's not enough." The Holy Spirit is also needed. "That's what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel.... Jesus wants to teach us further...the proper lesson at the proper time in our life. It's both reason and the revelation of the Holy Spirit that will guide us through life," by guiding us "into all the truth." "When God the Holy Spirit comes in and pours into us the truth of God, how could that be anything less than the truth? It must be real; it must be objective...the truth that's absolutely true for the particular time in which God has given it to you." He gave examples of the Spirit's teaching in his own life, ranging from the profound (pastoral counsel) to the simply interesting (being guided to particular passages while preparing sermons).

Calvert described the Trinity using the words of the Swiss theologian Hans Kung: "'God the Father is God above us, God the Son is God alongside of us, and God the Holy Spirit is God inside of us.' The truth and the life of the Father and the Son flow into us through the Holy Spirit."

Before leading the recitation of the creed, Calvert exhorted the congregation: "The Nicene Creed is a Trinitarian Creed; it is full of the life of the Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let us say it and look for the Trinity." And there He was: "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty.... We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ.... We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.... With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified."

At the close of the service, Calvert gave the blessing: The Lord God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the holy and undivided Trinity, guard you, save you, and bring you to that heavenly city, where He lives and reigns forever and ever."

What happens when we die?

"If we believe in Jesus," said Calvert, "we go to heaven."

Place

Church of the Good Shepherd

3990 Bonita Road, Chula Vista




Denomination: Episcopal Church

Founded locally: 1953

Senior pastor: George M. Calvert

Congregation size: 150

Staff size: 5

Sunday school enrollment: 10

Annual budget: $200,000

Weekly giving: $3850

Singles program: no

Dress: wide-ranging, but more formal than not

Sunday worship: traditional service, 8:30 a.m.; contemporary service, 11 a.m.

Length of reviewed service: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Website: www.followtheshepherd.org

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"As we gaze at your kingly brightness/ So our faces display your likeness/ Ever changing from glory to glory/ Mirrored here, may our lives tell your story. Shine, Jesus, shine..." Those lines from the opening hymn (one of many) caught something of the spirit pervading the Contemporary Communion Service at Good Shepherd. They touched on a profound and deeply traditional theological notion: that in beholding God, we are made like Him, and further, our own lives are a kind of participation in His divine life ("Mirrored here..."). But they were sung by a folk choir over a miked and twangy acoustic guitar, bongos, tambourines, handclaps, and a synthesizer.

The church itself shared in the feeling: a traditional (if cozy) inverted-ark, but entirely paneled with dark wood planks, giving the place a rustic feel. The Good Shepherd appeared in stained glass above the entrance, but all other windows were floor-to-ceiling '50s-style clear panes, looking out at the serene landscaping.

The congregation joined hands across the aisles for the "Our Father" -- a classically progressive practice. Reverend Calvert took pains to point out after the service that his was a "biblically orthodox congregation." Once again, tradition in modern garb, with frequent echoes of the old ways: the ornate gold cover on the Scriptures, a woman's half-genuflection before entering a pew, the prolonged elevation of the Eucharist.

The form and language of the liturgy, however, was pure tradition. From the collect: "Almighty and everlasting God, you have given to us your servants grace...to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and the power of your divine Majesty to worship the Unity." This was Trinity Sunday, "one of the great holy days of the Church year," in Calvert's words.

The readings dwelt on the glory of God enthroned in heaven -- first Isaiah's vision of the Lord surrounded by Seraphim, and then John's vision of the Lord surrounded by the four creatures traditionally associated with the gospels: an eagle, a lion, an ox, and a man. In both cases, the Lord was receiving worship and glory from His attendant host. The Gospel was a much quieter affair, but it commanded all of Calvert's attention in the message: Christ telling his disciples, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth."

"For the past 200 years, since the Enlightenment, we've been told that all we need is reason to put together the puzzles of life," proclaimed Calvert. "But life is too mysterious, too complex, to be figured out by reason alone. Our reason is limited and disordered.... Both Nazism and Communism claimed reason as their guide. Evil can seem so reasonable at times."

It wasn't that Calvert was down on reason: "Reason is good. I believe in reason. It's just that it's not enough." The Holy Spirit is also needed. "That's what Jesus was talking about in the Gospel.... Jesus wants to teach us further...the proper lesson at the proper time in our life. It's both reason and the revelation of the Holy Spirit that will guide us through life," by guiding us "into all the truth." "When God the Holy Spirit comes in and pours into us the truth of God, how could that be anything less than the truth? It must be real; it must be objective...the truth that's absolutely true for the particular time in which God has given it to you." He gave examples of the Spirit's teaching in his own life, ranging from the profound (pastoral counsel) to the simply interesting (being guided to particular passages while preparing sermons).

Calvert described the Trinity using the words of the Swiss theologian Hans Kung: "'God the Father is God above us, God the Son is God alongside of us, and God the Holy Spirit is God inside of us.' The truth and the life of the Father and the Son flow into us through the Holy Spirit."

Before leading the recitation of the creed, Calvert exhorted the congregation: "The Nicene Creed is a Trinitarian Creed; it is full of the life of the Trinity -- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Let us say it and look for the Trinity." And there He was: "We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty.... We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ.... We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life.... With the Father and the Son he is worshipped and glorified."

At the close of the service, Calvert gave the blessing: The Lord God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the holy and undivided Trinity, guard you, save you, and bring you to that heavenly city, where He lives and reigns forever and ever."

What happens when we die?

"If we believe in Jesus," said Calvert, "we go to heaven."

Place

Church of the Good Shepherd

3990 Bonita Road, Chula Vista




Denomination: Episcopal Church

Founded locally: 1953

Senior pastor: George M. Calvert

Congregation size: 150

Staff size: 5

Sunday school enrollment: 10

Annual budget: $200,000

Weekly giving: $3850

Singles program: no

Dress: wide-ranging, but more formal than not

Sunday worship: traditional service, 8:30 a.m.; contemporary service, 11 a.m.

Length of reviewed service: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Website: www.followtheshepherd.org

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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