Just a bit more on Morning Prayer. Since our time of enforced separation from one another is extending, we are fasting, in a sense, from the Eucharist. And during this time, rediscovering the joys of reading, and digging deeply, into the Word of God.
There are some verses in the Second Song of Isaiah, Canticle # 10 in Morning Prayer, where the Prophet Isaiah is calling the people of God to come gather, to hear the Word which God proclaims. (Isaiah 55:8-11)
For as rain and snow fall from the heavens,
and return not again, but water the earth,
Bringing forth life and giving growth,
seed for sowing and bread for eating,
So is my word that goes forth from my mouth;
it will not return to me empty;
But it will accomplish that which I have purposed,
and prosper in that for which I sent it.
Do you catch the picture? It’s as if the Word of God comes out of His mouth, and then begins to travel to earth, moving around, and doing things that God wishes done. Just like the rain falls from the earth, watering and causing plants to grow, so the Word of God falls from on high and causes life to flourish.
And just as a land without water will become barren, life will wither away; so, too, in our lives, unless we are watered by the Word of God, we shall become less than we are when we flourish.
The Service of Morning Prayer, then, falls into really 3 easy to understand parts. The first part is the singing of praises to God, in the only full set of praise songs to be included into the Bible: the Psalms. The selection of the Psalms for Morning and Evening Prayer, is just a bit longer than for the Eucharist. We try to really dig into the text. And unlike in the Eucharist, the Psalms in Morning Prayer are not a response to a reading, they are the main part of the service.
Have you ever noticed in the Psalms, as they are printed in the Book of Common Prayer, that the Psalms occasionally have a small line of text which says “First Day: Morning Prayer?” Then just a few Psalms later, “First Day: Evening Prayer.” Then just a bit later, “Second Day: Morning Prayer.” And so on.
Reciting the Psalms, for many people, is so important, that they read over the entire book every month. If you should wish to do that, you can follow these little directions, and in just one month’s time, you will have read the entire book. The theological sweep of the Psalms is breathtaking. The honesty and raw emotional tone of the book can be staggering. So much so, that early Protestants in England, would not sing any song, unless it was from the Book of Psalms. That may seem a bit extreme to us today, but the honesty and directness of the book should impress us all with it’s ability to give life.
Live Streamed Worship continues…..
Yes, Sunday service will be live streamed on Facebook, each Sunday at 9:30.
AND…. For the duration of our time “apart,” we will continue to offer prayers at Noonday, also posted on Facebook.
Just a reminder, you do not need a Facebook account to follow along. Nor do you need to be a very adept user of Facebook. Simply go to: facebook.com/stfrancistempletx
If you have trouble finding the live stream, or if you happen to miss the live presentation, it is saved as a video, which may be accessed by clicking on “Videos” to the left side of the page. There you will find our Noonday prayers, the Sunday services, Fr. David’s Wednesday chapel talks for St. Francis School, as well as bits of other things that may catch your interest.
How long will we be out of church?
Looks like a bit. I am encouraged to find so many folks talking about how, and when, we restart. It tells me that we are not just tired of being safe, but that the tide may be close to turning.
How is St. Francis doing, financially?
Better than you might expect. In March we received about half of our budgeted donations. Since we began the year with a bit of a reserve, it helps. Your prayers, your work, your financial support, are all deeply appreciated. Arranging for your bank to electronically send a check is always welcome. Mailing a check, or dropping one by, is always appreciated. We maintain a very light office schedule, so do call first to make sure that someone is in the office.
Where are those prayers that we hear so often in church to be found?
There are a number of resources that we have tried to take advantage of. But in case you would like to really follow along:
God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to us as we wait in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make us the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring us courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you. Amen.
(From A Prayer Book for New Zealand)
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things, & I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Blessed Jesus, present in the Sacrament, our church gathered, and in our hearts. Desiring to keep you foremost in my life, I am unable to receive your Sacred Body and Blood with my brothers and sisters. Come into my heart anew, unite me wholly to you, and never let me be separated from You. Amen.
John Chrysostom, a great fourth-century preacher in Constantinople , said, “When we suffer anything for Christ’s sake, we should do so not only with courage, but even with joy. If we have to go hungry let us be glad as if we wee at a banquet. If we are insulted, let us be elated as though we had been showered with praises. If we lose all we possess, let us consider ourselves the gainers. If we provide for the poor, let us regard ourselves as the recipients. Do no think of the painful effort involved, but of the sweetness of the rewears; and above all, remember that your struggles are for the sake of our Lord. Jesus.”
A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals