Monthly Archives: June 2014

Trinity Sunday

Rublev

One day, God walked in, pale from the grey steppe,
slit-eyed against the wind, and stopped,
said, Colour me, breathe your blood into my mouth.

I said, Here is the blood of all our people,
these are their bruises, blue and purple,
gold, brown, and pale green wash of death.

These (god) are the chromatic pains of flesh,
I said, I trust I shall make you blush,
O I shall stain you with the scars of birth

For ever, I shall root you in the wood,
under the sun shall bake you bread
of beechmast, never let you forth

To the white desert, to the starving sand.
But we shall sit and speak around
one table, share one food, one earth.

-Rowan Williams

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Open invitation, no barriers

There’s an interesting thread unfolding on Twitter today about Choral Evensong.

The conversation started in response to this thoughtful post by Gerry Lynch on Episcopal Cafe.

People laud the benefits or rue the disadvantages of Choral Evensong based on their understanding of “participation.”

Participation

Is listening to lovely choral music participating?

Is being a choir member participating?

What if you are a paid singer? Does that count?

These are all intriguing questions, but I’m not interested in them, really.

I am interested in the Daily Office — Morning and Evening Prayer especially — as a form of worship that is an open invitation with no barriers to lay participation.

Open invitation, no barriers

You see, the Holy Eucharist, the proper service of public worship on the Lord’s Day, requires a bishop or priest to celebrate, and Communion is properly shared by the baptized.

Anyone can officiate at the Daily Office, on the other hand, and there is no requirement that those joining in the prayers be baptized.

There’s a lot of buzz in evangelical circles about “seeker services,” and many places like St. Mark’s Cathedral in Portland attract people to services like Compline.

What if we offered the Daily Office in our churches with an open invitation for anyone to join us in prayer “that we may be bound together by [God’s] Holy Spirit in the communion of all [God’s] saints” (BCP 122)?

Our daily prayer is not only Choral Evensong, though when it is, it’s glorious.

More importantly, our daily prayer is ours to do and ours to share — with an open invitation and no barriers.

In all we do, direct us

Collect for Grace

O Lord God, almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity; and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (BCP 100)

Members of Christ’s body

Paul writes to the church in Ephesus about the power, the giftedness we have received through our participation in the dying and rising of Christ, symbolized by our baptism:

“The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ” (Eph. 4:11-13).

Not just a faithful remnant 

With the Ephesians, we are no longer just a faithful remnant, like “whoever is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem [and] will be called holy” (Isa. 4:3).

Instead, we are called to “the measure of the full stature of Christ,” to a much larger vision of ministry to the whole world. As we sing in Canticle 11 this morning:

Nations will stream to your light, *
and kings to the brightness of your dawning.
Your gates will always be open; *
by day or night they will never be shut. (BCP 87)

We are not secure within the walls of the city, but welcoming to those who would come in.

We are no longer left behind, separate from the world, but sent out into it.

Certainly not anxious neighbors 

And out in the world, we ought to be recognizably different from the anxious neighbors Jesus meets in today’s Gospel (Matt. 8:28-34).

Too often, we respond just like the townspeople. “Why are you helping those dirty, wild, Gerasenes?”

“And, wait a minute,” say the swineherds, “those are my pigs!”

“You’re upsetting everything! This was such a quiet neighborhood until you came along; we were secure and separate.”

Instead, we ought to look for and recognize God’s purpose at work, for we are a whole community of gifted, grace-filled ministers being directed, in all we do, to the fulfilling of that purpose.