How do we embrace the seeker in our midst: the individual who comes to church not quite sure what brought her there, the person who has been away from church but now feels the need to return, the steady parishioner suddenly called to go deeper into his faith?
Discover, Embrace, Become is about helping others get at the heart of Christianity–revealing to them the main thing, which is the undiluted, unconditional Love of Christ and the call to share this love with one another. The Discover-Embrace-Become series is an invitation to deeper engagement in the Christian life and can be used for seekers and long-time members alike.
Discover-Embrace-Become is modeled after the ancient catechumenate, the work of inviting seekers to discover more about life in Christ followed by teaching and preparation for baptism. In ancient times, the catechumenate was a (three-year!) process for forming people in the faith in a world unfamiliar with Christianity. Since the earliest Christians gathered, seekers came asking questions, searching for meaning, and yearning for an experience of the risen Christ in their lives.
We find ourselves in a similar position now, with many either having no personal experience of the Christian faith, or a narrow and perhaps misleading view of Christianity seen through the lens of the media.
Similar to the traditional catechumenate, Discover-Embrace-Become is made of three modules or periods. The three modules provide an invitation to encounter the arc of Christ’s life, death, resurrection, and ascension, and the liturgical rhythm of Holy Week. Through this process in community, participants are invited to discover their own journey of faith — the eternal path through life and death, to resurrection and enduring hope.
Discover-Embrace-Become modules each consist of six sessions, with sessions following a predictable flow: a brief teaching (in-person or video), lectio-style scripture reflection, and prayer. Some people may move through the modules sequentially and others may react, “I really like this process and I’m growing spiritually, but I’m not ready to move on to the next period.” Because the focus of sessions is reflecting on life in light of scripture, modules can be repeated, offering a familiar structure that always invites new reflection and sharing.
LEARN MORE ABOUT EACH COMPONENT
Discover is a time of inquiry to help seekers identify how God is already present and working in their lives. It is a time for seekers to begin to tell their own stories, answering the questions: Where have I experienced God in my life? How can I tell my story? How do we make meaning in our lives? Is there something greater than ourselves? Seekers will explore key themes of the Christian faith, what it means to be in relationship, and the core spiritual truths of love, grace, and renewal. Groups gather at a predetermined time each week, either in-person or online, and may share a meal before a time of learning and sharing. Read more about Discover.
Embrace builds on the work of Discover. This sequence will support participants as they embrace a new way of being in the Christian faith and are equipped through experiences and practices that nourish and sustain them in The Episcopal Church. This is a time for seekers to hear the Church’s story, and to begin to understand what it means to live as a Christian Episcopalian. Throughout Embrace, participants explore the most important beliefs and practices of the Christian community. Questions may emerge: What is the Bible? How are Episcopalians different from other Christian communities? What is the Eucharist? Who are bishops? How are Episcopalians part of the Anglican communion? What practices and ministries are important to Episcopalians? Why do we do liturgical aerobics every Sunday? Having progressed in faith and entering into the catechumenate proper, catechumens are accepted into more intense preparation for the sacraments of initiation, baptism, reception, and reaffirmation during Lent.
The rite that welcomes seekers desiring to enter the catechumenate period is called the Admission of Catechumens. This rite is celebrated in each seeker’s/participant’s parish during the principal Sunday service, marking the passage of seekers into the catechumenate and helping parishioners realize that there are people in the congregation going through the process toward baptism, reception, and reaffirmation of their Christian faith, An appropriate date for this rite is the first Sunday of Advent. You can find the Admission of Catechumens in the Book of Occasional Services on page 127. Read more about Embrace.
Become builds on the spiritual work of Embrace, as participants delve more deeply into the Christian life and questions arising for them. This is a time to integrate all they have been experiencing and learning into what it means to live the Christian life. Catechumens become candidates in preparation to receive the gifts of the sacraments of baptism and the eucharist at Easter Vigil, when they become knit into the Body of Christ. For seekers who have already been baptized, Easter is a time of celebration as they reaffirm their faith in the Risen Christ.
The rite that enrolls catechumens as candidates for baptism is called the Rite of Enrollment. An appropriate Sunday to celebrate this second rite is the first Sunday of Lent. In this way, both rites of Admission and Enrollment involve the whole parish, helping the catechumens recognize that they are joining the larger Body of Christ. Read more about Become.
Contact the Rev. Jenifer Gamber for more information about using Discover-Embrace-Become in your congregation.