Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Why Is The Book of Common Prayer Such A Big Deal?

Has anyone ever asked you “What’s Episcopal?” What exactly makes us Episcopalians anyways? Like other Christians we Baptize and have liturgy and the Sacraments and the Bible. So what’s the one thing that Episcopalians (a.k.a. Anglicans) have that no other Tradition has which makes us unique? Our Book of Common Prayer. The red book with the gold Cross in our pew racks. Our Book of Common Prayer may be a bigger deal than we realize. Have you ever heard the words, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here…” or “To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better for worse…” or “Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Familiar words, no? They’re said at nearly every English-speaking Wedding and Funeral. Know where they come from? Our Book of Common Prayer. Our book has literally shaped the English language.

So where did it come from? Imagine going to Church on Sunday and the priest is upfront with his back to you. And he’s either praying under his breath so you can’t hear him or he turns around and says things like “Hoc est corpus meum!” Huh? Either you can’t hear him or when you do it’s in a language you don’t understand. Sunday worship was something worshippers couldn’t understand or participate in. Not the prayers. Not the hymns. Not the Bible. Many just prayed the Rosary while the priest did his thing until the Acolyte rang the bell so everyone knew to look up when the Host (bread) was raised. Imagine never. Hearing. The Bible. In. Your. Heart language. Never praying at Church in your heart language. That was worship in Western Europe before the Reformation.

The Book of Common Prayer first appeared in England in 1549. It was written by the Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Cranmer. Why? Cranmer wanted to help every citizen understand and participate fully in worship. And most importantly: hear the Bible in their heart language and go through the entire Bible every year. So he created The Book of Common Prayer. Every congregation followed the same order of worship, or liturgy, (hence “Common” Prayer) and every day in the morning and in the evening the priest would ring the Church bells so people in every village knew they could come hear the Bible read out loud in a language they understood. If they came to Church for Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer every day for one year, they’d hear the entire Bible read in their heart language. Whether they could read or not didn’t matter. Whether they owned a Bible or not didn’t matter. Every. Single. Citizen. Could hear the entire Bible, morning and evening over one year. And they could fully participate in worship on Sundays. 

So what’s in our current Book of Common Prayer? Here’s a quick overview…
  • The Holy Eucharist
  • Our Catechism (What We Believe)
  • The Church Calendar
  • Everything we do during Holy Week
  • Baptism, Confirmation, Weddings and Funerals
  • Our “Collects” (thematic prayers at the beginning or worship)
  • Morning and Evening Prayer a.k.a. The Daily Office

The Book of Common Prayer changed history and has shaped it. It was created to help men and women worship God in their heart language. This book is our unique feature as Episcopalians. It is one of the greatest tools for making disciples in the history of the world. Come check it out at Adult Ed starting Dec. 4th at 9am to learn more about it how you can use it in your own walk with Jesus.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Darkness & Light

Sometimes the suffering people encounter in this broken world seems crushing...

[ Haven't journaled since before Christmas. Quick overview: Preached and Celebrated Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Eucharists and 3rd and 10th Days of Christmas. Tammy's family with us for Christmas Weekend, a few days off,  went to IL for Christmas with my family, drank good beer, ate homemade cookies. Lots of joy, merriment, feasting and little rest. ]

The last 24 hours have been heartbreaking. Earlier last week our Church Musician & Sexton Ron Nelson's twin brother was diagnosed with a brain tumor.

8 and 10am Eucharists with Anointing with Oil for Healing.
9am Adult Ed on Persecution + Prophets + Salt + Light from the Sermon on the Mount.

Laras came over for lunch so we could watch the first session of Paz Financiera which they'll be leading starting January 17th. Very exciting.  I introduced Pedro to Gulden Draak (an amazing Belgian beer, the best in my opinion). That was fun.

Spoke to one of our families who advised of a hellish issue they're dealing with with their house. Devastating. Very tough news to hear.

Went up to Madision to visit parishioner Jo Schulten who was moved there a couple weeks ago for breathing complications. When I arrived she was intubated and sedated and had been unconscious for a few days. She's in very bad shape. She has no family she's in contact with so it's a very sad situation.

Came home from Madision feeling wrecked.

Into the Office to catch up from the Office being closed last week.

On and off throughout the day I spent time trying to track down Jo's family by phone, e-mail,  Facebook, etc.

Weekly check-in with Parish Admin Roberta. Four days into the new year and we already have tons to do on the docket.

Got a phone call that one of our Parishioner's elderly Mother's passed away:  Dolores Poplar.  Saddened by this news. Her son, Dr. Clifford Poplar is one of the most servant-hearted, sacrifical-with-his-time men I've ever met. Such a great example of Christ-likeness.

Worked on worship during Epiphany-tide (now through Ash Wednesday):  liturgics and music.

Checked in with my guy Vito, who will become a Member of Christ Church this Sunday. Very excited for him and honored.

Had a very interesting woman stop by today who said she is an Evangelist for the "Chicago to Rockford / Madison to Milwaukee area." She's been living in her car and came by because she was looking for Human Concerns for financial assistance. I believe 90% of the words she spoke to me were direct quotations from the Bible. She hung out at Church and read from her big Bible for about an hour after we talked.

Human Concerns / 14th Apostle is a local group that provides Financial Assistance to residents of Delavan & Darien. They meet at our Church on Monday nights. Numerous local Churches, businesses and people of good will provide funds and then Human Concerns helps people according to a strict series of guidelines. They do excellent work.

In addition to the Evangelist, numerous phone calls and people stopping by the Office asking for Financial Assistance because they were told this is where to get it. This is locationally correct but not financially correct. Had to tell a lot of people, "Please come back at 6pm."

Dozens with financial need. Life-threatening illenes. Dear souls dying. Families in crises not of their making. A lot of suffering. A lot of darkness.

Thank God for this season of the Light of Israel's Messiah which "shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it." (John 1:5).

The ironic thing about all of this is I'm fine. But standing by watching all these folks suffer makes the heart weary.

The following words from the 100th Archbishop of Canterbury Michael Ramsey ring very true today...
"No one will be nearer both to the darkness and to the light than the Christian priest today."