Clergy Clatter

“Why would you suggest something like that?”
That was one of the comments I got after my question during announcements Sunday as to whether or not some folks would like a simple early morning Eucharist on Wednesdays. And I do understand the puzzlement. Why make more work for myself? But the fact it is, I’m at church by 9 on Wednesdays. It wouldn’t take much effort to be there a little before 8, get things open, and do a simple service – if there are folks who would like that.

Let me explain. I love Sunday morning corporate worship. I look forward to it all week. As soon as the first person walks through the door, I’m excited. I love the idea of the community gathering in song, prayer, conversation, and worship of God. The more people, the more activity, the more excitement, the better. I love everything about it. I craved it as a kid, and it still makes my whole week. Add a few dogs, and I’m even happier.

But – there is another type of worship. It is intended to be quieter, more personal, and more contemplative. It’s not focused on the community, but on the individual person and his/her spirituality. It’s a way of starting the day with structured prayer, in a quiet setting, where you and God can reach out to each other. For me, it’s kind of a “winter time thing.” It’s still quiet outside, a little bit dark, still not wide awake, but a perfect time to talk to God.

It seems to me that Epiphany is the perfect place to do something like this. My idea is that we read the Psalm appointed for the Day (different than Sunday’s), the Gospel appointed for the Day (different than Sunday’s), intercessions, a few moments of silent prayer, confession, a simple communion (the Prayer Book offers Rite 3, which we don’t usually use). It can be custom tailored. There would be no music, not homily, no processions – the lights turned down, the very simplest and personal service possible – I would guess about 20 minutes. You wouldn’t even have to dress up. Get out of bed, brush your teeth, wrap up in something, come say your prayers, and then go about your day. This would be so different from Sunday morning worship that I don’t think the two would be in competition with each other.

So – that’s my idea. If you come from a tradition or location that offers this sort of thing, you know that it can be very powerful. Sometimes folks get together and go to breakfast afterward, but sometimes you don’t have to say a word to anyone, and no one will consider you rude.

As an aside, before I was ordained, it was not unusual for a priest to maintain a private altar at home, and make his communion as his first act of the day. Current practice is that clergy don’t celebrate communion without two or three gathered together. It takes a second person present. I think that’s healthy and certainly Biblical.

Let me know what you think, and we’ll see what the Vestry says.

Richard +

October 1, 2021


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