Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Rhythm of the saints

I was chatting with a friend at the beginning of the summer and he mentioned that he had noticed how in the preceding eighteen months more of my blog posts had related to the church calendar and particularly saints days and the seasons. He was right and I began to reflect on why that was.

When I began work in the Diocesan Office looking after the lay education and training brief I found it quite a shock to the system in terms of my own spiritual discipline. For the first fourteen years of ordained ministry I had been used to meeting daily with colleagues for Morning Prayer. It was only when that pattern stopped that I realised how important it had been to me. Not just the regular prayer and Bible reading but the liturgical pattern of the year with it’s distinctive rhythm.

For the last ten years I’ve struggled to find a pattern that fed and sustained me in the way Morning Prayer had done. Early on I tried attending worship at the cathedral but it didn’t really work for me. My own personal devotions used a variety of patterns of worship and the one I settled on was Celebrating Common Prayer. During the final year of my time at the office I valued meeting each Monday with some colleagues for a form of Morning Prayer.

When I returned to parish ministry in May I also returned to using Common Worship Morning Prayer for my devotions. In part this was prompted by the iPad I had received as a gift from work colleagues which enabled me to say the office from one source provided on line, rather than having do jump back and forth through a weighty tome from Church House Publishing. However, the one thing that was still missing was the corporate aspect of praying that I had so valued in those early years of ministry.

Before the holidays I explained to the  congregation that from September I would be saying Morning Prayer in the prayer chapel of the church each day and invited others to join me. As part of a team ministry I already meet with colleagues for prayer on Monday mornings so we will use Morning Prayer for this in the future. Most days I will be joined by our associate minister and later in the autumn by a curate who will be on placement with us for a few weeks. We are also hoping to have a stipendiary curate join us next year and I want them to experience what I had come to value during the early years of my ministry. 

Yesterday we met for the first time and I was greatly encouraged that five of us gathered together for Morning Prayer. As I left the chapel I found myself thinking, that’s what I’d been missing.

1 comment:

Ray Barnes said...

From the perspective of a new Christian I can readily confirm that for me too morning prayer is very important.
I have some difficulty getting to the church in time for this wonderful start to the day, and really feel quite flat and unmotivated on the days when I get there too late.
I hasten to add that the clergy have made it clear that they don't mind my late arrival, but I do.
It feels somehow disrespectful to arrive after it has begun.
Sometimes there are only two or three of us, but it is a lovely uplifting start to the day.