Skip to comments.It is midnight -- do you know where your prayer book is?
Posted on 06/13/2006 5:07:03 PM PDT by sionnsar
It had better not be at GC 2006
Source: GENERAL CONVENTION BLOG
...Among the more interesting things our committee is looking at are Liturgies for Rites of Passage for times of transition. We have proposals for rites related to stages in human development -- youth, rising adulthood, midlife, elders. Prayers for things such as the first day of school, going away to camp, earning a driver's license, beginning to date, going off to college, moving from the family home, beginning or ending a job, surviving a tragedy, healing after a divorce, taking on the care of elder parents, becoming a grandparent, remembering a departed soul a week / month / year after death, visiting the site of a death, coming home without a departed loved one, the birthday of a departed loved one, and many others. There are liturgies for celebrating a significant birthday, celebrating an engagement, receiving or claiming a new name, celebrating our elders. I'll be on a sub-committee working on many of these rites of passage texts...
YEAH, THERE IS MORE...
The good, the bad, and the ugly. That's what's in the grab bag of new rites that the Episcopal Church's Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music (SCLM) has offered up to the 2006 General Convention, about to get underway in Columbus, Ohio.
Before we get to the prayers the Commission produced for almost any occasion of life - from going away to camp, to dating, to getting out of jail - let us give credit where credit is due.
There's definite "good" in some surprisingly reverent and traditional funeral prayers that SCLM says should be added to the options in the liturgical supplement, Enriching Our Worship.
There is this prayer for the dead: "Deliver N., our Savior Jesus Christ, from all evil, and set her free from every bond, that she may feast with all your saints in light, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit, you live and reign, one God, for ever and ever."
The following prayer, which is based on Eastern Orthodox funeral prayers, speaks explicitly of sin, judgment, and the peril of Hell: "In the midst of life we are in death; from whom can we seek help? From you alone, O Lord, who by our sins are justly angered. Lord, you know the secrets of our hearts; shut not your ears to our prayers, but spare us, O Lord. O worthy and eternal Judge, do not let the pains of death turn us away from you at our last hour. Holy God, Holy and mighty, Holy Immortal One, have mercy upon us."
Another prayer, in a similar spirit, is: "Blessed Jesus, Son of the Living God, we pray you to set your passion, cross, and death between your judgment and our souls, now and in the hour of our death. Give mercy and grace to the living, pardon and peace to the dead; to your holy church peace and concord; and to us sinners everlasting life and glory; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever."
The Commission has proposed, for use until 2009, an unusual but rather moving prayer in its "Common for Space Exploration." This is SCLM's response to a resolution (D049) referred to it for further work by the 2003 General Convention. The resolution asked the Commission to commemorate in several ways "The First Communion on the Moon" on July 20, 1969, during the first Moon landing, when astronaut Buzz Aldrin communicated himself with pre-consecrated elements.
The year 2009 will be the 40th anniversary of that event. The Commission might be criticized for not offering the commemoration requested for what it admits was a "unique and memorable moment." But in its "Common" it offers a way to commemorate "those who have died in the course of space exploration - among them a significant number of Episcopalians. In addition, it provides a way of praying for future space explorers and for the thousands of people whose work make the space program possible." The "Common" reads: "Creator of the universe, your dominion extends through the immensity of space: guide and guard those who seek to fathom its mysteries [especially N.N.].
Save us from arrogance lest we forget that our achievements are grounded in you, and, by the grace of your Holy Spirit, protect our travels beyond the reaches of earth, that we may glory ever more in the wonder of your creation: through Jesus Christ, your Word, by whom all things came to be, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever." The Commission also proposed a draft of this prayer in "Rite I" style. Of seven proposed trial additions to the ECUSA calendar, the Commission has chosen two well known worthies:
The martyred Oscar Romero, the Catholic Archbishop of San Salvador (who would be honored with the "Martyrs of El Salvador" on March 24), and the Eastern Orthodox Tikhon, Patriarch of Moscow, who was persecuted by the Bolsheviks for confessing the Faith; he is to be honored on April 7. In the possibly controversial, possibly not category is the Commission's proposal (A077) that ECUSA adopt the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL) as the standard for the church, beginning on the first Sunday of Advent, 2007. This would replace the present 3-year schedule of Biblical readings in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer with a new 3-year cycle, bringing ECUSA into line with Anglican provinces overseas, and with other Protestant denominations.
The current BCP lectionary uses Old Testament readings that link to or foreshadow the day's New Testament texts; the RCL follows the Old Testament story straight through during the readings for the Sundays between Pentecost and Advent: Genesis through Judges in year A; the Davidic Covenant and Wisdom literature in Year B; the prophets in Year C. The RCL also includes some Scriptures on women's role in salvation history, texts that have not previously been part of the Sunday liturgy.
The Revised Common Lectionary has been authorized for trial use in ECUSA since the 71st (1994) General Convention, so it is not exactly new. But some observers strongly contend that it should not supplant the BCP Lectionary but remain an alternative to it. BUT, AS IS INEVITABLE in the Episcopal Church (ECUSA), there are also some new prayers that clearly qualify as "bad." In these, ECUSA's liturgists lift up the standard of what H. Richard Niebuhr described in 1937 as the modern "Gospel": "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross."
The SCLM's designers have proposed a dazzling array of new prayers and "Rites of Passage" that seem to rely on the ideas that hot button issues can be deftly glossed over and license given with sleight of pen, and that most everything in life must be liturgically affirmed. As You Like It Several of the SCLM prayers that touch on the possibility of intimate relationships are very big on love and loving but clearly intent on leaving it up to the person being prayed for to decide what form that love or loving will take.
Take the proposed new prayer "For Godly Expression of One's Sexuality." This prayer makes room for all sexual permutations, not mentioning anything like chastity, marriage, lust, sin, or temptation: "O God, you have made us in your image and called us to the joys of human love. That love, the sign and seal of your own love for each of us, is shown through companionship and caring, and, powerfully and mysteriously, through the mystery of godly sexual expression shared with each other. This young person, N., is opening his heart to learn the wideness of love. As he strives to discover who he is, whose he is, and the person he is given to love, may he be guided, protected, and encouraged by you, O Love Incarnate. Give him wisdom in choosing, courage in loving, and patience in waiting for the marvelous truth of his life to unfold in your grace, most holy and undivided Trinity, alive through all the ages." The Commission also proffers prayers on "Reaching Puberty" and "Dating Relationships" which are similarly silent on the new temptations facing youth at that stage of life.
As well, we cannot imagine any young person willing to be publicly singled out as the subject of such prayers. Nevertheless, the "Reaching Puberty" prayer reads: "Creator of Life, you have formed us in your image, male and female, and we are wonderfully made for the joy of human love. We thank you for this girl, N., whom you have brought to maturity.
In the freedom of childhood she has come to this time, and she needs your grace and guidance for the responsibilities of adulthood. You have designed her days for love and for work, for sharing and for growing, for searching and for finding. Keep her safe throughout her life, and give her the courage to follow her heart, and walk in your ways; through Jesus, our true Companion in our journey to you."
The "Dating Relationships" prayer, similarly content-free, reads: "Our greatest joy in life, O God, is to love. We thank you for showing us through Jesus that loving a child, a friend, a dream or a companion makes us more fully human, created in your image. As N. stands ready to begin dating, help her to remember that she will be learning that love is sacred. May she bring to each new date hope for a true friendship. May she listen, and speak, and act with the greatest respect for herself and for her companion. May she strive for a relationship that is truthful, patient, courageous, and kind. Above all, may love teach her to love you more and more as, through the Spirit's care, she grows in the image of your holy child, Jesus Christ our Redeemer."
The SCLM prayer for those being released from jail or prison (surely there's a big call for that among Episcopalians) takes a fairly lightweight approach: "Liberating God, we lose our true freedom when we wander from your love, but when we come home to you, we receive fullness of joy. Our sister, N., ends her prison/jail sentence and returns to a world that waits for her. Calm her fears and guard her from stumbling; surround her with friendship, and fill her with hope, reassured by your love and ours; through Jesus your Christ, our Redeemer and Liberator."
This "I'm OK, You're OK" attitude also underlies the prayer "at the ending of a relationship" - with no specification of the marital status of the partners: "God of Love, you ask us in your name to be faithful to the covenants we create with one another. Yet the relationship between N. and N. seems damaged beyond repair. We grieve with them as they say farewell to set off on separate paths, sorrowing for a love broken beyond our power to make it whole again. But you in your mercy rise in every death and your love is new every morning. Help us to uphold N. and N. as they discern the future you hold in store for them: abundance of life in the love of Jesus Christ our Lord."
Some of the suggested new prayers for use by mourners take for granted that everyone goes to Heaven; there is little recognition that the dead may need, and benefit from, the prayers of the living THEN, THERE ARE proposed new prayers and rites that could be classed as "ugly" - or maybe merely silly, banal, or trendy. First, there are the "Rites of Passage" - which one wag characterized as "liturgies composed by people with entirely too much time on their hands." Alaska Bishop Mark McDonald, however, gives them more significance. He thinks they are the working out of the "currents of renewal" that have moved through the Church for the last 50 years, and a realization of the revolutionary intentions of the authors of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. (And whatever he means by "renewal" is likely not the same thing that conservatives mean when they say it.)
Said McDonald: "I once heard Boone Porter describe the vision of the primary architects of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. He said they had placed a number of 'land mines' in what we might call the implicit ecclesiology and missiology of the Book. Only a few of these land mines have appeared, since most of us use the current prayer book as if it were a supplement to the 1928 Prayer Book. In the same way, many of us used our personal computers as fancy typewriters, without discovering that they are completely new instruments. With joy, we can say that, in these Rites of Passage, a visionary group of folks have begun to live into the promise and power of a number of the currents of renewal that have been beckoning the church forward over the past 50 years."
To be fair, before we go any further, we must note that, in producing these rites, SCLM was responding to a call from the 2003 General Convention. But, in addition to the already-noted prayers for reaching puberty, dating relationships, and "godly expression of one's sexuality," the SCLM suggests new rites for a child's moving from a crib to a bed, becoming a big brother (or sister), beginning and ending a school year, "becoming a reader," learning to ride a bike, going away to camp, coping "when a friend moves away," obtaining a driver's license, reaching significant teenage birthdays (including "Quinceañera ( a girl's 15th birthday), Fiesta Clavel (a boy's 15th birthday) Sweet Sixteen, Debut or "Coming of Age"), graduating from high school, going to college, entering the work force, and moving from the family home.
During a proposed "Blessing of a Betrothal," the celebrant prays thus: "May God join together all the pieces of your lives into a fine and sturdy quilt to cover your days with grace. And may all who bless you be blessed!" For adults, the proposed new rites include prayers not just for release from prison and "the ending of a relationship" but for beginning (or ending) a job, earning a General Equivalency diploma, returning to a community of faith, surviving a tragedy, "healing after a divorce," "reclaiming health," taking on the care of older parents, and receiving a new name (such as "a woman after a divorce reclaiming the surname she was born with or a child taking the name of his adopted parents"). The service for a person taking a new name may, according to the Commission, "include such elements as ritual cleansing, confession, incense or smudging, singing, and drumming."
The old get their new rites, too: for retirement, for becoming a grandparent or great-grandparent, celebrating a significant wedding anniversary or birthday, and leaving home to go into care or to move to a smaller space. For the dead and their mourners, there are prayers for one week, one month, and one year after death; prayers when visiting the site of death, when coming home without the departed, when giving away the belongings of the deceased, and visiting the graveside.
There are also prayers for use by those who grieve a violent death. By way of coming attractions, in the fall of 2005, the SCLM considered a collection of prayers "that would respond to the pastoral needs of women and men who have experienced miscarriage, abortion, or other trauma in the childbearing or childbirth process." The Commission examined the drafts, and sent them back for revision.
A list of the titles of some of the draft prayers shows the spirit of these petitions: "Before a Difficult Decision," "After a Difficult Decision," "Following the Termination of Pregnancy," "For Unresolved Grief or Guilt," "on the Anniversary of an Abortion," "Of the Pregnant Woman's Parents," "Of the Pregnant Woman's Spouse or Partner," "For Help to Conceive or to Accept Infertility," "For Letting Go the Hope of Childbearing," and "Before Surgeries That Will Prevent Conception." This set of prayers is not dead, however; the SCLM plans to reconsider them in November 2006, and will "send liturgies out for informal trial use in the remainder of [the] triennium" before the 2009 convention.
Keep your eyes open; prayers for justified abortion and sanctified sterilization might come to a liberal parish near you. And, the Commission appears poised to follow a trail blazed by theater-style denominational mega-churches and the Techno-Cosmic Masses produced by California Episcopal priest Matthew Fox.
The SCLM has within it a committee that has spent the last three years studying and experiencing "multi-sensory worship" - which they describe as worship that includes "electronic/computer generated music, visual imagery projected on screens/monitors, and artistic expression in a variety of media."
At General Convention, the Multi-sensory committee seeks a $60,000 budget to spend the next three years developing more "multi-sensory resources," preparing "theological statements" to justify use of the new expressions, and training congregations in the new ways of worship. (Some ECUSA parishes are already "trained," in fact, reportedly offering "U2 Eucharists" - services featuring the music of the Irish rock band U2.)
The Multi-Sensory Committee pointed Blue Book readers to the worshipwell.org web page, that offers "words of wisdom on everything from worship planning and guiding principles to inclusive language and multi-cultural liturgical development."
This "wisdom" includes many references to the parish of St. Gregory Nyssa in San Francisco - the "dancing parish" which offered a same-sex union service for former Utah Bishop Otis Charles and his partner in 2004.
Other advice from the worshipwell.org web page includes: "It's more important to do liturgy well than to do it right. Give yourself permission to experiment with liturgy-start by moving furniture! Re-arranging our worship spaces rearranges relationships and prayer life...Good liturgy takes work.
True, the Book of Common Prayer and centuries of history and tradition structure the way we worship as community. But how can ministers and congregants make liturgy a vibrant, dynamic collaboration rather than rote ritual?" It appears that for this committee, "liturgical fidget" is not a disease, but a blessing.
**Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, General Convention 2006 proposals (section 16 of the Blue Book), http://www.episcopalarchives.org/e-archives/bluebook/16.html; **The Worship Well, "Wisdom," http://www.theworshipwell.org/wisdom.html.
Permission to circulate the foregoing electronically is granted, provided that there are no changes in the headings or text
The BCP (of the 1928 variety) given to me by my godparents at my baptism is sitting safe and sound on my bookshelf at home next to the KJV Bible my father gave me when I graduated from high school.
I don't recognize the validity of the more modern Book of Plug and Play Random Ruminations, Occasional Ceremonies and Something or Other so I don't have to worry.
Since I've now become a presbyterian it's all rather academic.
We have exactly one (provisional!) 1979, which I retain almost solely for reference, except that I actually used it for a year or three.
I'm guessing it's well on its way to being an "historical document."
There are low-level discussions in our province about "updating" the 1928 BCP; calendars within it run out in the next few years.
My 1928 is on the bedside table and is used daily.
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, in whose hands are the living and the dead: We give thee thanks for all thy servants who have laid down their lives in the service of our country. Here I said "Especially ..." and I added their names. Grant to them thy mercy and the light of thy presence; and give us such a lively sense of thy righteous will, that the work which thou hast begun in them may be perfected; through Jesus Christ thy Son our Lord. Amen.
It was Scout Sunday, so I was in full uniform, with people there from our Pack and Troop who were not parishioners and would not normally be there. I had to stop and compose myself after reading the names before proceeding.
I also recall listening to their service on the radio. The Navy Hynm was sung by the Naval service's chorus. "Eternal Father, Strong to Save", number 608 in your 1982 Hymnal.
My 1928 BCP is safe and sound. Despite not having a specific prayer for my driver's license or getting out of jail, I think I'll keep it.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.