This was a part of my personality that didn’t come out till I left home and established my own nest, but it seems I inherited more than my mother’s penchant for period literature–I’m obsessed with dishware and love to throw a really good party, just like my mom does. Continue reading
“I hope and pray that those charged with being custodians of the Church’s worship will do so in a way that honors the gifts and talents of their congregations.” Words on liturgy by the Rev. Canon Robert Hendrickson
One of the more persistent phrases one hears in Episcopal Church circles is that the liturgy is “the work of the people” based on a translation of the Greek word Leitourgia. This translation of the word often is then used as a way to say that the liturgy should be more “participatory” or involve more lay people in planning or more responsive to the desires of laity. I would actually agree with all of these though I might quibble with what any of them actually means.
For example, if we say the liturgy should be more “participatory” this is often interpreted as meaning lay people say more or do more. Yet in a culture in which we are constantly pressured to do and say the actually challenging act of participation may be to simply adore – to learn to be present with our hearts opened to God’s.
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“Furthermore, by this order the curates shall need none other books for their public service, but this book and the Bible…”
From the Preface to the First Book of Common Prayer (1549)
It was my privilege and delight last fall to teach an adult Sunday School class called “The Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.” The syllabus for the course was nothing more than the Table of Contents found in the BCP, and the stated goal was to explore the ways in which the Prayer Book puts the words of Scripture on our lips, plants the teachings of Scripture deep in our hearts, and conforms the rhythms of our lives to Scripture’s great story.
In sixteen weeks of forty-five minute sessions, we covered a rough history of both the Bible and the Prayer Book, traced the arc of the Calendar of the Church Year, reflected on the roots and…
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Advent, the four weeks leading up to Christmas, are a time of expectation. I learned this firsthand when I spent a summer interning at a church whose pastor’s wife (a pastor herself) was due to have a baby boy in the middle of July. We watched our cell phones, we asked the mother how she was feeling, we hovered.
These are wild, wild days, my friends.
Having misread a description of the days between the Ascension and Pentecost, I momentarily thought that these 10 days were yet another huge party–or camping trip?–we Episcopalians were obligated to enjoy; some sleuthing revealed that they were set aside as totally-boring-normal-common days, “ferial” meaning “free”–as in free-of-a-feast. A bit more digging uncovered that both “feral” and “ferial” seem to be from the same Latin root, though with exact opposite meanings, depending on how seriously one feasts.
So what are these in between kind of days here, and what can we learn from them? What does it mean that Jesus has ascended, but the Holy Spirit hasn’t come yet? Why didn’t Scripture mash those events all together? Why was there some time in between?
We’re still in the season of Easter, of feasting and rejoicing over Jesus’ resurrection and the hope and promise of salvation which that event offers to every one of us in every one of our seemingly hopeless situations. But Jesus isn’t “with us” in the way that we’ve been contemplating since the end of December; Jesus has ascended, not that Jesus was quite as predictably present since his resurrection anyway–with all the surprising appearances out and about.
We’re living in the surprise of the resurrection, the surprise of Jesus’ very fleshy but also mystical appearances, the surprise of his ascension. Another big surprise is coming down the tubes, we know–Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit–but for this moment, I wonder if we should be overcome with, and be on the lookout for, surprises.
Almost halfway through 2014, what surprises have this year brought in your life?