As we enter into the season following The Epiphany at St. Michael’s, remember that at the 10:30 service for the next several Sundays we will be using a trial liturgy approved by The General Convention last summer. The idea behind these liturgies is not to replace The Book of Common Prayer but to offer an additional option for congregations to use. Furthermore, as their title suggests, these liturgies don’t try to replace language we already use but to expand our stock of images, words, and ideas we use to describe our experience with the Living God who is beyond anything that we can say.
Our goal at St. Michael’s is to respond to the request made by The General Convention - to try these liturgies in our congregation, see what our experience of them is, and then offer our feedback to a diocesan committee, who will in turn send feedback from all congregations in the diocese to a church-wide Task Force. So, how does this work?
Starting this Sunday, instead of using the Prayer Book, we will have a booklet with the service printed in it. (See photo above). It should be a fairly seamless entry into the service; just follow along as you would in the Prayer Book. The congregation’s parts will be printed in bold text; the celebrant’s or other leaders’ parts will be in plain text. So if it’s bold, you read it. We will still have the regular inserts for the collect and readings, and will have a folded one-page “bulletin” with the order of service, hymns, prayer list, and announcements.
I encourage you over the next several weeks to pay attention to what’s going on inside your mind and soul as we pray our way through these liturgies. What about them stands out for you? Where do you notice differences? What among those differences is a help to prayer and worship? What gets in the way? The first week or two may be awkward; anything new always is, especially when it comes to church, but please stick with it. I encourage you also to take notes about your experience, even while you are in church, so that you don’t later forget things that came to you in the moment.
The Last Sunday after the Epiphany is March 3, and that will be the last Sunday we use them. On March 6, Ash Wednesday, we will return to the Book of Common Prayer. We will have some times outside of church for those who wish to discuss our experience with these liturgies. I hope you will take part in those as you can.