Thursday, October 25, 2018

Bishop’s Note: October 25, 2018 – The 2019 BCP Summary of the Law

Bishop Eric Menees

Dear Friends,

     As we continue our examination of the Holy Eucharist – Standard Text – in the 2019 BCP, today we look at The Summary of the Law.

     For those of you who have worshipped using the 1928 BCP, opening the service with the Summary of the Law or the Decalogue (10 Commandments), was expected and normal. However, the 1979 BCP eliminated the Summary of the Law. You will notice that, with the 2019 BCP, the inclusion of either the Summary of the Law or the Decalogue is not optional the way it was in the 79 BCP. This is because we recognize the importance of affirming the importance of the relationship that we have with God. Therefore, immediately following the Collect for Purity, the celebrant reinforces the importance of God’s teaching to us. When Jesus was confronted by a Pharisee who asked, “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” Jesus responded with the Great Commandment.

The Summary of the Law
What follows is the Summary of the Law, or The Decalogue.
Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ says:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.
Matthew 22:37-40

     The first commandment of the Great Commandment is drawn from Deuteronomy 6:5, and faithful Jews were expected to repeat this twice daily as a sign of devotion and a reminder of proper priorities. (ESV Commentary) In a world that consistently encourages us to place ourselves first and everything else second, the Great Commandment reminds us that the first priority should be God!

     The second commandment of the Great Commandment is drawn from Leviticus 19:18. The only way we can truly be devoted to God, truly love God, is by loving the tangible reality of God in front of us: our neighbor.

     Our neighbor is created in the image of God (Genesis 1: 27), as are we. Therefore, by loving our neighbor we, in fact, love God. St. John makes this clear, but in the negative form when he states: “If anyone says, ‘I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20) 

     Why do we begin our worship with a reminder of the Great Commandment? Because we need to be regularly reminded what our priorities ought to be and how we are to demonstrate the fulfillment of those priorities!

I pray you all a blessed week!

Friday, October 19, 2018

Bishop’s Note: October 18, 2018 – 2019 BCP Collect for Purity

Bishop Eric Menees
Dear Friends,

     As we continue our examination of the Holy Eucharist – Standard Text – 2019 BCP, today we look at the Collect for Purity.

     A Collect is a prayer that is meant to do what its name reflects – collect the thoughts and intentions of those gathered for worship. Collects have been a part of Christian Worship since the time of the Early Church, and Archbishop Cranmer made good use of them by adapting them to the context of the English Reformation.

     The 2019 BCP will be very familiar, as it is virtually unchanged from the 1979 BCP version with this exception; the rubrics (generally printed in red), otherwise known as liturgical directions, allow for the Celebrant to invite the gathered congregation to join in saying the prayer. The 1979 BCP version allowed only for the Celebrant to offer the prayer on behalf of the people.

The Collect for Purity
The Celebrant prays (and the People may be invited to join)
Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Collects generally follow a pattern:
Addressing God and laying out an aspect of His character.
A petition or request is made.
An invocation and doxology
The concluding AMEN

In this Collect God is addressed as being both omnipotent (all powerful)  — “Almighty God” — and omniscient (all knowing) — “all desires known, and from whom no secrets are hid.” — In this prayer, it is acknowledged that we do not have to make our desires known, nor try to hide our secrets, because God already knows us so intimately that nothing is new or “news” to God.
We ask God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, to cleans our innermost thoughts (the thoughts of the heart), in order that we may truly worship Him. That worship is expressed in our love and our praise, as we “magnify” his holy Name.
In the Collect for Purity, there is a trinitarian prayer we pray to Almighty God: We ask God to inspire us through his Holy Spirit, and we pray it all through our intermediary, “Christ our Lord.”
The prayer ends as all prayers should, and as all of ours do – by saying AMEN. The word “amen” has its roots in Hebrew and is generally translated: “so be it.” The intention with an AMEN isn’t so much, ‘“so be it” as I have requested,’ but rather ‘“so be it” as you, God, desire.’ This was expressed by Jesus in his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when he said, “not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Needless to say, the Collect for Purity is theologically packed and beautifully expressed, asking God to prepare us for worship. I pray that this Sunday, as you prepare for worship, you’ll pay close attention to the Collect for Purity.

Bishop Menees

Friday, October 12, 2018

Bishop’s Note: October 11, 2018 – 2019 BCP Introduction & Acclamation

Bishop Eric Menees
Dear Friends,

     Each week in the Bishop’s Note, I share thoughts and observations on our common faith and life together. This coming January, the College of Bishops are prepared to approve the final edition of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. This new prayer book will become the standard* throughout the Diocese and the Province.

    Beginning under the direction of Bishop Bill Thompson, and continuing under the leadership of Archbishop Robert Duncan, I am very pleased with the fruit of the hard work that the Task Force has produced, and I look forward to the roll out in a formal, printed version in the spring to early summer, with Crossways as the publisher. I am also very proud that two of our own clergy serve on that Task Force: Deacon Erin Giles and Father Jonathan Kanary.

      In anticipation of publication, I would like to dedicate the next season of Bishop’s Notes to exploring the new prayer book, the theology represented, and the changes that were made.

   It makes most sense to begin with Holy Eucharist, since that is the most commonly used service throughout the Diocese. There are two eucharistic prayers: Anglican Standard Text and Renewed Ancient Text; I’ll begin with the Anglican Standard Text. The Task Force gave the following as a preface:

The Anglican Standard Text is essentially that of the Holy Communion service of the Book of Common Prayer of 1662 and successor books through 1928, 1929 and 1962. The Anglican Standard Text is presented in contemporary English and in the order for Holy Communion that is common, since the late twentieth century, among ecumenical and Anglican partners worldwide.

  Our worship begins with an opening “Acclamation.”

The Acclamation
The People standing, the Celebrant says this or a seasonal greeting.
Blessed be God: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
People   And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.

  According to the Merriam Webster an acclamation is: “a loud eager expression of approval, praise, or assent.” Our opening acclamation is meant to be just that: loud, eager praise and assent to our One God in three persons — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit – who are in constant communion; sometimes envisioned as in a mystical dance. In all cases, He is ONE and THREE – in perfect union.

      In addition, in eager praise we acknowledge that God’s kingdom is both present in the moment and will be experienced eternally. In our worship, we enter into God’s kingdom. We enter by gathering as the Body of Christ; singing God’s praise; reading God’s word; confessing our common Faith in God; opening our hearts and souls to God in prayer; asking God for forgiveness and hearing those sweet words of absolution; and coming to God’s Holy Table for His Holy Food, in order to fill us with His Grace so we can be sent out into the world to love and serve Him. When we open our hearts to God, we live in the midst of His kingdom.

      For those familiar with the 1979 BCP, you’ll notice that the new “Opening Acclamation” is slightly different: the article “the” has been added before each person of the Trinity to emphasize the reality that, while the Trinity is one, we can also have a relationship with each person of the Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!

     I pray you all a blessed week and wonderful worship on the Lord’s Day as you enter again into worship and praise!