Archive for November, 2013

Another cycle of the church year is almost here

November 24, 2013

This Sunday is the final week on the liturgical calendar. For Roman Catholics, and some others, this is Christ the King Sunday. When I was a child, this was celebrated a bit earlier in the fall and in Mobile there was a parade through downtown. We called it a “procession” All the grade schools, high schools, and bands marched along with groups from each parish. It was a gentle “in your face” for the majority Baptist population. They needed it.

The idea of taking a week in liturgical time came earlier in the 20th century and was a papal initiative. It was a much-needed corrective to rising tides of excessive nationalism. The thought was to remind Christians that Jesus Christ is our reigning King in heaven now, and soon coming King on earth, trumping all human governments and nations. That is such a good idea that I am almost persuaded to allow it in the private Anglican world in which only I have ever dwelt. I am not quite there, and today is the Sunday next before Advent. The Collect is one of the finest in the cycle of prayer and evokes quite an image.

STIR up, we beseech thee, O Lord, the wills of thy faithful people; that they, plenteously bringing forth the fruit of good works, may by thee be plenteously rewarded; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Cranky traditionalists like me plan their daily scripture readings and prayers around one of the many lectionaries. The American version of the 1928 Book of Common Prayer has two such arrangements; one from 1928 and the other from 1945. You can see both on the “Great Books” site.

My own reading program is typically based on the 1945, even though it has been rightly criticized for excluding passages dealing with anything unpleasant. It also makes a generous use of so-called apocryphal books. I correct this by looking ahead for the week and expanding the selections, where necessary. There are several fine Bible translations that include the necessary apocryphal books. The Church of England 1662 lectionary is good, as are many others. The Cradle of Prayer has texts and recordings for traditionalists (a bit dry for my taste but still useful).

If it is essential that you read the Daily Office (that’s what it is called) of Morning and Evening Prayer on your smartphone or other electronic device, The Mission of St. Claire has, so far as I can tell, the only game in town. Here is the link.  It is from the Episcopal Church (TEC). It is based on the 1979 Book of Common Prayer and has a little less Old Testament content and a tiny hint of politics . It’s still a good resource if you must load it on an electronic device.

Interested in Celtic practices? Try the Newumbria Community, I am really starting to like it! It includes a beautiful and short service for Compline (late evening) and other wonderful prayers and readings.

This blog contains two essays on the practical aspects of using the 1945 Daily Office Lectionary revision in the ’28 Book of Common Prayer. The Devotional use and specific instructions on how to use the 1945 lectionary may seem a little cumbersome at first, but the intention is to give you the use of a valuable spiritual tool and to take some of the mystery out of it.

This blog also features a four-part series of recorded lessons dealing with the church year. It is titled “Living in Sacred Time.” If you will search the contents (upper left hand column) you will be richly rewarded! The church calendar is a sound framework for the rythmn of prayer in a busy life.