Wednesday, June 20, 2007

sanctifying time

What are the most important parts of pastoral ministry? I had the answer but I dropped it somewhere in the part of my mind I lost at noon from eating too many hushpuppies.

Oh, yes. So we hear all about the wonderful social ministries of the church, the mission projects, the youth groups, the children's choirs, even the worship services and sermons, but it's not that often that I hear about prayer. I mean, we're all supposed to do it, right? And everybody seems to think that pastors pray--though whether or not they pray more than your average parishioner (especially when we start counting the elderly folks with little to do) is up for grabs. While it would be ridiculous to sit around praying all day and never do any good (I'm pretty sure the prophets have some comments on that), it's equally absurd to go around trying to save the world (an interesting aspiration to begin with, whatever you mean by it) without prayer.

One of the ordination vows in the Book of Common Prayer asks, "Will you persevere in prayer, both in public and in private, asking God's grace, both for yourself and for others, offering all your labors to God, throught the mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit?" The ordination rite in the Methodist Book of Worship contains (not surprisingly) very similar language.

I knew when I first got here that I was going to need some kind of daily ritual. The Daily Office, one of the great gifts of Anglicanism, has provided it, as is "meet and right." It provides both opportunity for prayer but also for meditation on the Scriptures. What's wonderful is that I can easily consider this part of my job, and likely it will be for most of my life. During the school year, unfortunately, our academic schedule at Duke does not lend itself well to routine prayer (much less regular corporate prayer). (I shall stop here lest I start ranting about chapel.)

Anyway, if you've never tried the Office, don't think about it as an Anglican or catholic thing. It's a tradition to be shared. It's "common," after all. And it's a joy to know that when I pray I'm not simply praying for the Church but with the Church.

If you'd like to join us sometime, the easiest way is simply to find Morning or Evening Prayer in the BCP (available online), or find it daily somewhere such as the C of E's website (though the readings are different).


Meredith said...
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Meredith said...

Do you know if the Office is available on line with the readings from the BCP 1979 lectionary?

Some contemplatives and cloistered religious might take issue with your suggestion that praying all day is ridiculous ;)

Anonymous said...

The Mission St Clare has something, but I've never much liked it (because you have to make a lot of clicks).

Point taken, and lack of nuance granted.