In 1919, there was an Episcopal mission in my town that had Morning and Evening Prayer 7 days a week, pretty much always led by the same lay person. He led them at this mission for about 17 years.
Ninety years later, that mission is a parish that opens its doors one day a week for worship and prayer.
Yeah, it’s St. Thatguy the Dude. Parish history project is coming along apace.
But it’s got me thinking, and the thoughts are unsettling, so I want to throw them out here and see if they can’t engender comment.
Here’s the thought: You cannot pray the Daily Office alone.
I know lots of people do; I’ve been known to do so myself. But I am starting to realise that praying it alone, in my bedroom, whenever I get a moment or two, is not what the Office is intended for. It’s meant for that two-or-more-gathered-together, it’s meant to be a public declaration of our faith. Oh, sure, there’s Skype, there’s conference calls, there’s web pages with the readings thoughtfully laid out for you.
No. In a culture that’s constantly attempting to isolate us from each other, we as Christians are flat-out ordered by Jesus to come together in person, to get within touching distance, to break down the walls we try and put up. I name these walls ’email’ and ‘efficiency’ and ‘time management’ and I, for one, want to take a wrecking ball to the lot of them!
The Episcopal Church is worried about getting people in the doors so we can preach the Gospel and send them out again as ministers to the world.
So, how are we to get people in the doors for that Gospel telling if the doors are only open for an hour and a half a week?
I’m getting this sneaking suspicion that the Daily Office (accent on daily) is the answer.