Bishop Eric Menees
This morning we continue our examination of the 2019 Book of Common Prayer (BCP) turning from the service of Holy Eucharist to the service of daily Morning Prayer.
When Archbishop Thomas Cranmer called for the development of a Book of Common Prayer, it was a brilliant idea and absolutely essential to the formation of what would become the Anglican Church worldwide.
You see, so many of the reformers desired such radical change from the Roman Catholic Church that, in my opinion, they “threw the baby out with the bath water.” Specifically, they wanted to move away from monasteries and any semblance of monastic life. Archbishop Cranmer knew, however, that the daily discipline of prayer and scripture study could literally transform the church and the world by making individual disciples.
I have long argued that the BCP, and specifically the Daily Offices, transformed England by helping to make a nation literate using the Holy Scriptures and the prayers found in the BCP. The phrase Lex Orandi Lex Credendi (the law of prayer is the law of belief, which means as we pray so we believe,) is apt as the BCP taught a nation to pray and believe.
The Daily Offices find their roots in the monastic tradition with the practice of regular daily prayer - Morning, Noon, Evening and Late Evening - corresponding to Morning Prayer, Noonday Prayer, Evening Prayer, and Compline.
Let’s begin with a look at Morning Prayer. The opening rubrics (liturgical directions found italicized) speak of an “officiant” leading the “office.” Merrimack Webster defines “office” as “a prescribed form or service of worship.” Therefore, the Officiant is the one (clergy or laity) who leads the Office.
The Officiant may begin Morning Prayer by reading an opening sentence of Scripture. One of the following, or a sentence from among those provided at the end of the Office (pages 27-29), is customary.
The Officiant begins with a word of scripture inviting, both himself/herself, and the participants to place themselves in God’s loving hands.
“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:2
This scripture invites us to sit back and allow God to fill us with His Grace and His Peace as we enter into an intimate time of prayer and worship.
I was glad when they said unto me, “We will go into the house of the Lord.” Psalm 122:1
Remembering the words of King David no matter where we are physically, spiritually we are invited into the House of the Lord! How important it is to be reminded that the Lord does not simply dwell in heaven but wherever we intentionally seek to come into His presence - be it at home, work, school, or in a house of worship.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be always acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14
Again, King David, in his psalm invites us to petition the Lord to bless our worship, our words, our hymns, and our actions.
My prayer is that these passages from scripture will serve as a good reminder to us at all times that God is not distant but very present and accessible to us, His lowly creatures.
I pray you all very blessed worship!