Thank you for coming with me on that three day biblical journey, but today let’s consider our other book, the monumental Book of Common Prayer. One need not be either Anglican (our umbrella term for any Christian anywhere) worshipping in the tradition of the Church of England or Episcopalian (the name our Founding Fathers who were Anglican chose for newly minted Americans wishing to retain their Anglican identity even after the American Revolution, the first established Anglican church outside of Britain proper) to appreciate the moving vocabulary, architecture and tradition of Prayer Book worship. May I challenge us to engage this Prayer Book during the remainder of Lent, and far beyond, in a new way? Would it shock anyone to realize that the Prayer Book is specifically designed for moments just like this one, having witnessed many such crises in its almost 500 year history?
A unique and distinctive BCP (that’s cool insider Episcopal-speak Acronese for Book of Common Prayer) feature is Collects, prayers which thematically summarize a particular Sunday or special event. There are also Collects for special occasions and special church or national days. One of my favorite Collects, the prayer for the bathroom from the Blessing of a Home, was strategically situated in our shared seminary dorm bathroom….yes, Episcopalians have a Collect for just about everything! But I digress…
Where is yours? I mean, the Collect which most describes or speaks to you profoundly, the one you memorized the first time you heard it? Was it for the Transfiguration, or the beautiful one from Compline to close the day, or the one from the Daily Devotions for Individuals and Families to open the day? One of the Sunday Collects? One of the special occasion Collects or a particular Feast Day? Try as I might I cannot find a Collect by Collect on-line or downloadable webpage anywhere so I apologize for us having to open the BCP and root around a bit, but then again, why not crack open your physical or digital BCP the same way I asked that we open the bible? What Sunday Collect is closest to your birthday? Which seems appropriate to pray right now?
- The Collects for Sunday begin on Page 211 and follow from there. Peruse them to see which one jumps out for you right now and take that one with you to your prayer corner.
- The Collects for Daily Devotion are embedded in the four short devotionals beginning on Page 137, Compline’s Collects in the nighttime service on Page 127, and others are similarly embedded in their own services. Find the few which speak comfort, encouragement and peace to you and include them in your daily prayers.
- I like the on-line hyperlinked Table of Contents capacities of the BCP here and the less hyperlinked but nice visual of the BCP here. Find the one which works best for you!