From the Interim Rector February 12, 2021
Lent begins next Wednesday. Last year on the Third Sunday in Lent we had our first online worship service. I doubt any of us had any expectation that when we next reached the Lenten Season we’d still be holding services online or still wearing masks and social distancing. Yet, here we are. We have adapted to this “new reality” and in the process we have learned new ways to be a community. One of those new ways Mo. Elise has organized for the upcoming Shrove Tuesday Dinner. You’ve read about it in this month’s Manifest and I very much hope you can join us at 5:00 as we have our first Zoom Dinner.
With the start of our Lenten Season we are making a change to our liturgy. As you know we have been using Morning Prayer as our liturgy since we started online worship. The opportunity to bring this Office back into the regular worshipping life of the parish has been for me, and I hope for you, a blessing. When the Episcopal Church moved to making the Eucharist the principle Sunday liturgy with the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, we slowly lost our familiarity with the richness of the Canticles, the Apostle’s Creed and various prayers. It has been good getting reacquainted with this part of our Prayer Book and our liturgical heritage. As we enter into this new liturgical season we will return to our more familiar Eucharistic liturgy, albeit without the Eucharist. As you may know the Eucharistic liturgy is actually in two parts (technically, four parts, but let’s not get lost in the liturgical weeds.). Those parts consist of The Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Table (or Altar for those more traditionally minded.) As parishes formulated their online liturgies some did as Epiphany did and used Morning Prayer for online worship. Others used The Liturgy of the Word. I would like Epiphany to now have this opportunity to experience The Liturgy of the Word in our online worship. And, since we’re revisiting old liturgical friends, we’ll be using the Rite One liturgy.
Historically Epiphany offered Rite One at the 8:30 service each Sunday and also at Evensong. For those not familiar with the liturgy there is often the impression that it’s just about using Elizabethan English – lots of those thees and thous that we struggled with in English Lit. However, the Rite One liturgy is more than just an older form of English. There are subtle theological differences that come through in the Creed, the Collects, and the various litanies – such as the Decalogue that we’ll recite beginning the Second Sunday in Lent. My hope is that as we experienced with Morning Prayer, these changes in our liturgical vocabulary will cause us to not only pay more attention to what we are offering to God, but help us pay more attention to what God is offering, and saying, to us.
As we enter into our second season of online Lenten worship and prepare ourselves for Holy Week and Easter – most likely also online – may each of us seek to attune ourselves to the gentle urgings of the Holy Spirit to listen more attentively to the words we offer and the words we hear. Especially that Word made flesh in Jesus Christ.