Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Easter Imagination

I wrote recently about the comprehensiveness of our Prayer Book's options.  There are 2 versions of our Rite One Eucharistic prayers and 4 of the Rite Two Prayers.  Within each of those liturgical sets are smaller options.  Some we try to employ "per season."  Each year we have prayed using all 6 forms for eucharistic worship.  The end result is not only a year filled with ear catching phrases but seasons shaped by actions that advance and complement the important holy-days spread throughout the year.

Another way that we have lived with our BCP is in preparation for confirmation and reception.  By studying the BCP we have learned how to use it, why it was first composed, as well as what we hope "biblical prayer" will do for us and our world.  The order of services -- from Morning Prayer to The Dedication and Consecration of a Church -- are fashioned and listed in an ideal way to organize the lives of faithful people consistent with our shared biblical witness and our history from Jerusalem to Rome and to Canterbury and to Philadelphia.

In other words we are a people of two books, and we have become a parish formed by almost all of what the 1979 BCP has to offer and helps us to access in holy scripture.  We do "good church" because we have trusted the BCP to shape our lives in worship every Sunday and many weekdays as well.  We have been permitted to join in a long-lived imagination that was shepherded by Jesus and burned into the hearts and minds of people like Luke, Paul and Peter, Stephen and Timothy and John the Divine. The BCP encourages us to echo the very phrases and songs they first practiced.  Our rehearsals are forming us into a people like few others.

Without our utilizing the options proscribed for our consideration our worship in 2017 would sink to robotic incantations more like sleepy magicians than imaginative believers.  It may not have been the first intent of those scholars and priests who feverishly finished their work that September 1979 night in Denver but their imagination was passing along to us from centuries before a richness of sights and sounds, thoughts and prayers only possible because of the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

The shape our worship takes -- no matter how we employ our imaginations or choose our options -- replays, represents, rehearses, and reinforces His and our dying and being raised.  In teaching our confirmands I have relied on this schematic like no other.

All of our worship follows this pattern of prayerful entrance, offertory, consecration, and intentional dismissal; of life, death, resurrection, and glorified presence; of bread and wine becoming body and blood; of a gift of human creation becoming a member of Christ's body. None of our worship is without some imagination; sometimes ours but always from God.  Ours is an Easter imagination.

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