Saturday, May 17, 2008

Proper 1 - for the first time

In the years I have been an Episcopalian (since 1983), I don’t believe I have ever had the opportunity to use the propers (official collect and readings from Scripture for a particular service) for the Daily Office from Proper 1 in the Book of Common Prayer. Easter has never been this early in my lifetime, so the need never arose. How wonderful to have something new from something with which I am so supposedly familiar!

From the simple clarity of the collect (“Remember, O Lord, what you have wrought in us and not what we deserve; and, as you have called us to your service, make us worthy of our calling,”) to the words of the First Letter of John (“all who do not do what is right are not from God, nor are those who do not love their brothers and sisters.”), these are wonderfully clear prayers and lessons about what it means to live the life placed in us by the Holy Spirit in Baptism. Would that we experienced this set of propers every year. Or, perhaps it is because they are being put to me in this form for the first time that I am finding them so insightful.

In any event, the Daily Office this week reminds me how precious the gift of the Prayer Book tradition of daily prayer is; its balance, its careful analysis of the Faith Once Delivered to the Saints, and it grounding all of our individual experiences in the greater Experience of the Church Catholic. I am reminded this week about the value and need to teach this heritage to an ever busier and less-grounded world.

Like the snow falling on the flowering trees outside the church on a Sunday in Eastertide, this is just another gift of the earliest Easter I've known. It is a helpful reminder that all of our liturgical practices are there to open us up to God's mysterious and freeing work in our life, not to put that work under some sort of deadening spiritual lock & key.

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