Book of Common Prayer

October 20, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 18

What are you leaving out? Have you ever prayed the Litany? Traditional churches often say it twice annually, but not too long ago it was common to pray the Litany every week. This fell out of fashion around the same time that churches became wary of focusing on spiritual realities that might be perceived as “negative.” Well, if the Litany is not part of your church experience you may well be wondering what I’m going on about. The Litany isRead more

October 13: Harvest Thanksgiving

"The Harvest of Hay in Eragny" by Camille Pissarro, 1887

More than a holiday: What we usually think of as “Thanksgiving” is a holiday peculiar to the U.S. and Canada. It calls to mind the gratitude of Protestant colonizers for the blessings of the harvest as they forged new lives in a new land. But there is more to the heart of the holiday than a full belly. Thanksgiving acknowledges that we are dependent on the land to yield food. But it further acknowledges that God is sovereign over theRead more

Four Prayers for Advent

A road through evergreen trees in winter, seen from above

Four Collects for Advent from The Book of Common Prayer: The Collect for Advent 1: Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious Majesty, to judge both the quick and the dead,Read more

October 6, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 16

The Sixteenth Sunday after Trinity: (The BCP Readings for today can be found here). What comes to mind for you when someone begins to speak about the Church? Do you think of a joyous experience of spiritual community? Or are you reminded of the fragmentation and confusion that seem so common in the Christian world? Perhaps both are true for you. They are both certainly true for me. I think you’ll agree that the collect for Trinity 16 is asRead more

Leaving the Bunker

A bunker interior with ladder ascending into open air and blue sky

A time to flee: In the times when we feel most threatened by a hostile world, retreat is a natural, even necessary, response. We seek a place of safety: a place where we can think, speak and live in accordance with our beliefs. We may even conclude that this can only be done by removing ourselves from, and shutting out, the hostility of the culture around us. So we surround ourselves with those things and people that are healthful toRead more

September 29: Michael and All Angels

“St. Michael,” by Raphael, c. 1505

Michaelmas: Spiritual corrective for the modern world: If you didn’t grow up in a liturgical tradition you may have heard of “Michaelmas” but never known to what it referred. It is, of course, the day in the Christian calendar on which we celebrate “Michael and All Angels”: September 29. C. S. Lewis once wrote that, “there are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other isRead more

September 21: Matthew the Evangelist

“The Calling of Matthew,” Vittore Carpaccio, 1465-1526

(The BCP Readings for this Feast Day can be found here) Eyewitness accounts: The miracle of Jesus entering human history is recorded for us in the four Gospels authored by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each of these men, inspired by the Holy Spirit, wrote an eyewitness (or eyewitness-based) account of the life, ministry, death and resurrection of our Lord. Each of these accounts was written from a different perspective and originally intended for a different audience. But together theirRead more

September 15, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 13

The Thirteenth Sunday after Trinity: Let’s get started by reading the collect for today: Almighty and merciful God, of whose only gift it cometh that thy faithful people do unto thee true and laudable service: Grant, we beseech thee, that we may so faithfully serve thee in this life, that we fail not finally to attain thy heavenly promises; through the merits of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Note: A few weeks ago we looked at the difficulty we canRead more

September 14: Holy Cross Day

empty crosses, listen

Exaltation, Triumph and Redemption: Why do we have a feast in the calendar called “Holy Cross Day” – when we already reflect so much on the passion of Christ during Holy Week? Well, consider that it has now been five months since Easter. We’re more than due for a reminder – not just of the sacrifice made by our Lord, but of his ultimate triumph over death. “Holy Cross Day” is a feast that is observed in many corners ofRead more

September 8, 2019

Reflections for Trinity 12, listen

The Twelfth Sunday after Trinity: Many of us live in this mental space: we know how God would like us to live, and we know that we fail to meet that standard – repeatedly. Though we know that Jesus died for our sins, we still live with a chronic sense of guilt, an overwhelming idea that our Father is disappointed with us. If this sounds at all familiar, then today’s collect is going to be good, theologically sound, medicine forRead more

September 1, 2019

September 1, Reflections for Trinity 11

The Eleventh Sunday after Trinity: Today’s readings put me in mind of David, and of what it means to be someone “after God’s own heart.” Here’s the Collect: O God, who declarest thy almighty power most chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Mercifully grant unto us such a measure of thy grace, that we, running the way of thy commandments, may obtain thy gracious promises, and be made partakers of thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. There’sRead more

August 31: Aidan of Lindisfarne

Detail of a painting showing an injured missionary being cared for by peasants

Wisdom and Grace: Much of what we know about the Church in the Middle Ages comes to us from the pen of “The Venerable” Bede, a medieval monk and historian, who wrote a book called “Ecclesiastical History of the English People.” And this is true of Aidan. Aidan was a monk of Iona and missionary to Northumbria in the seventh century. The story goes that the monk who was first sent as a missionary (a man named Corman), came backRead more

August 29: The Beheading of John the Baptist

“The Beheading of Saint John the Baptist,” by Pierre Puvis de Chavannes (1824–1898) - listen

A Unique Role: John the Baptist was a unique man who had a unique role to play in the story of our salvation. He was a man who spanned the gap between the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament disciples. The story of his birth is a remarkable one (celebrated in the Christian calendar on June 24). The story of his ministry is a remarkable one. And the story of his martyrdom grips us as well, cementing his placeRead more

Prayer for a New (School) Year

Books, flowers, and an apple on a bench

A Prayer for Starting a New Year Fresh from The Book of Common Prayer: This prayer is intended to be used on New Year’s Day. But I think it’s appropriate for Labour Day as well. The new school year, like New Year’s Day, gives us the opportunity to consider and confess what’s behind. Then we can “reach forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13 NASB). If you find yourself in need of a fresh start, then go ahead and makeRead more

August 25, 2019

August 25: Reflections for Trinity 10

The Tenth Sunday after Trinity: Every now and then I am struck by the brilliance of the way the tradition pulls together readings, prayers and psalms. This is one of the weeks when it seems at a glance like a thoroughly bizarre grouping. But then, when you’ve sat with the readings for a time, the connections begin to become clear. The Gospel reading for today is Christ’s cleansing of the temple in Luke. It’s a text that always tempts meRead more

August 18, 2019

Trinity 9

The Ninth Sunday after Trinity: Today’s collect is is one that “sticks in the craw” for many. And although this is true in modern times, it has also been true for generations. Unfortunately for those who struggle with the words of this prayer, they are completely scripture-based. (And this is actually something that shines about the Book of Common Prayer. It is composed of something like 80% actual scripture, but arranged for prayer. Awesome.) So, because it is scripturally sound,Read more