A few years ago our parish was pleasantly invigorated by Marek Zabriskie and Forward Movement’s ‘Bible Challenge.’ For the uninitiated, this is a one-year reading program in which a congregation is challenged to read the Bible in a year. Thus, we gave out Bibles, developed, printed out, and distributed reading schedules, and organized Bible studies. This was all well-received and many people were thankful their church helped them finally read a book they’ve always wanted to read.
Now, it’s the Prayer Book’s turn.
This Fall, we’re devoting 8 Sundays to reacquaint ourselves with the most popular English-language book in the world (besides the Bible).
We’re using as an outline the 8-part, ChurchNext course called ‘Introducing the Prayer Book,’ which was done in partnership with Bexley Seabury Theological Federation.
On these Sundays, parishioners will be encouraged to bring their Prayer Books to church and use them during worship. On each of the 8 Sundays we will emphasize different aspects of the Prayer Book, including history, Collects, Creeds, Sacraments, Psalms, etc. On those Sundays people are not able to attend worship, we will encourage them to take the online class designated for that week. We will also devote our Sunday study hour to these topics. All 8 of these ChurchNext courses will be launched by the end of June: you can go here to the catalog, and click on the ‘Book of Common Prayer’ category to see the courses – most are up, but we’ve still got more to come.
Why are we doing this? Because one of the great distinctions of being an Anglican Christian is this sacred resource, The Book of Common Prayer. It has helped millions of people grow closer to God for a very good reason: it helps us bring God into our day-to-day lives. It is full of stunningly beautiful language — much of it taken from Scripture — and a wealth of devotional material. Yet many of us only use that small portion we see on Sunday mornings. Our spiritual forebears translated the Bible into English, then translated the Bible into a way to live and worship that still works quite well today. And if we lose a sense of this, we miss a great opportunity to draw closer to God.
I, for one, am looking forward to this re-initiation to an amazing book and spirituality. Let is know if you’re interested in doing this, and if so, what kinds of guides you might need — and we’ll see if we can help.