Morning and Evening Prayer: After Scripture
I have been making the case that the “genius” of Anglicanism is in Morning and Evening Prayer in particular; that these public forms have been placed first in every Book of Common Prayer for reasons not often appreciated; and that at the heart of these forms are the Scriptures, to be read in continuity, and always in a stereo fashion of Old and New Testament. Anglicans trust that a regular hearing of God’s Word will implant it in our hearts, guide us to a Christian understanding of the world, and bring forth in us the various fruits of godly living, the first of which is prayer.
We see this in the services themselves. The first thing to follow the Scriptures is the Apostles’ Creed. This too is an Anglican distinctive. All Christians recognize the Apostles' Creed as the baptismal creed. We recite it also in daily prayer: for the Word that we have heard and that has entered our hearts makes it possible for us to profess our faith in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
And that, in turn, makes it possible for us to pray. The Lord’s Prayer follows the creed, and then some versicles and responses, and then, traditionally, three collects. The first is of the day (which would be the previous Sunday, generally). The second and third are traditionally fixed collects, the same every day (but different from Morning Prayer to Evening Prayer); in the 1979 Book there are many more options.
In the 16th century Books of 1549, 1552, and 1559, this was the end. But it seems that experience called forth an expansion of the concluding prayers. The 1662 Book had five additional prayers, and the American Books have included additional prayers also.
This fluidity of the conclusion of Morning and Evening Prayer is itself instructive. When we become people who are conformed to God’s Word, our prayers naturally multiply in many directions, differing from time to time, place to place, season to season. We will have to bring the service of Morning or Evening Prayer to an end and return to our work or our homes or our study. But our praying has not ended.
And in fact, prayer never will end. Prayer is just talking with God, and that, please God, will be something native to our lives forever.
On the Web. This week’s post, like that of the last two, is taken from my essay in the October 4 issue of The Living Church. If you are not a subscriber, why not fix that? https://www.cambeywest.com/subscribe2/?p=LCM&f=paid
Out & About. This Sunday I conclude a three-week online class at Incarnation in Dallas, at 10:15 a.m.: “Things God Didn’t Want but He Got Used To.” This Sunday’s topic is sacrifice. It is a startling thing to notice that sacrifice first occurs in the Bible without God asking for it. Why? You can sign up for the Zoom class on the Incarnation website: https://incarnation.org/event/1893868-2020-10-25-sunday-school-three-things-god-didnt-want-but-he-got-used-to-cities-politics-sacrifice/. Note that there are both in-person and online options, so if you are in Dallas, why not attend? We meet in Room 205, and the class falls between the in-person traditional worship at 9 a.m. and the 11:15 a.m. contemporary service.
Also this Sunday, Oct. 25: at 6 p.m., the fall theology lecture, “What’s Special about Anglicanism?” You can watch it, livestreamed, on F*book, the “IncarnationDFW” page. But in addition, there is an in-person option, for which preregistration is required. The lecture will be in the Ascension Chapel of Incarnation, Dallas; to reserve seats (which are free as long as they are available): https://incarnation.org/event/1862897-2020-10-25-whats-special-about-anglicanism-lecture/.
Bishop George Sumner will be responding to my lecture and then we’ll have some conversation and more Q&A. This is a topic about which I am increasingly excited, and I hope you join us, one way or the other.
I have not mastered bilocation, but I will nonetheless be preaching for Resurrection in Plano, Texas, this Sunday at 10:30 a.m. (The sermon will be prerecorded.) Their website is https://www.resurrectionplano.org/
As their “theological visitor,” I will be in Oklahoma City at All Souls’ Church: to preach on their feast of title, All Saints’ Day (Saturday, Oct. 31, 5:30 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 1, at 8 and 10 a.m.). Then Monday through Wednesday I will offer two classes. At the noon hour, “Up with Leviticus” (yes!), and at 6 p.m., on friendship. These classes will also be on their website www.allsoulsokc.com, as will their Sunday 10 a.m. Eucharist.