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.

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