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THE IMPORTANT THING IS..

Each morning at Mattins I “cause the bell to be tolled” before the service and then say the Angelus at the Marian Shrine (tut tut) before I begin the Office. Yes, I am usually alone. But am I?

I say the Office for the parish, that is on behalf of the parish. But is there more? Surely the bell announces to the community that heaven and earth, the eternal, the global and the local are intersecting? The prayers of the Church with a capital C are just that. I am as much praying with the Church as I am praying for the Church.

One of the callings of a priest is to stand at that intersecting door between the eternal, the global and the “place”. Our job is to keep that door open as it were.

Then the psalm this morning seemed appropriate. (78 1 – 39) “That which we have heard and known, and what our forefathers have told us, we will not hide from their children. We will recount to generations to come the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord, and the wonderful works he has done….So that they might put their trust in God, and not forget the deeds of God, but keep his commandments; And not be like their forefathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”

Even the lesson about Gideon this morning, militaristic as it is, tells of an obscure person from an obscure tribe, who is asked by God to reduce his armed strength to 300 men for the battle, gave some meaning to our weakness in the task we face as we seek to witness to Jesus, incarnate, crucified, risen and ascended in our Episcopal Church today.

If all the above is true of the Office, how much more so is it of the Eucharist, ideally celebrated by the bishop, surrounded by other clergy and laity, as the “ordinary” minister of the sacrament, but even so when we “extraordinary” ministers gather with the people of God.

In such a context the local becomes the microcosm of the eternal, global, regional and local. We priests are called to draw aside the veil and expose our little bit of ground to the Glory of God and to his saving grace.

Now our trouble, as I see it, is that we practice a sort of faithful agnosticism in all this. We would rather seek for other signs, synodical action, national strategies, world-wide solutions. Granted these things have their place. But unless, surely, we believe in our essential task and mission, the rest has little power. And when we put all our trust in structure and power, rather than in Word and Sacrament, we fall and deserve to fall.

I have a mind to believe that God probably used the time our bishops in Canterbury, prayed together, celebrated the Eucharist together, studied the Bible together and shared their hearts with each other, than in any other part of their agenda. Perhaps it would be better to say that in doing the real tasks of a Christian perhaps God was able to build the bishops up to tackle the hard, practical decisions and actions before them.

One Response

  1. You make a valid point and one which should at least get me back into doing my morning and evening prayers for a week.. thank you.

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