You have heard it said that when two or three gather in prayer, Jesus is with them, the Spirit is with them. For more than a year we have been restricted from gathering in our churches because of the pandemic that has swept our communities. Early on, I began streaming Sunday Morning Prayer services and weekday Noonday Prayer services on the Holy Family Facebook page as an opportunity for the parish to pray together from their homes. For more than a year, this has been good work, and has filled a spiritual need we all have; to gather in prayer, to be reassured that God is with us, and to be renewed in faith and confidence to be the people we have been called to be and carry on the work we have been called to do.
Now, we are being allowed to return to our sanctuaries and I am coming to be your priest beginning July 4th. The necessity-- and perhaps the novelty-- of streaming services is different than it was when we first began streaming. But, over these last months, I have discovered an appreciation of this kind of prayer time. There is a monastic, rule-of-life quality to it: a rhythm, a grace. Because there are fewer distractions, and because it is streamed from our home to yours, the services are gentler, allowing us all a greater opportunity to touched by the Spirit. And because they are being streamed, they can be viewed live, or at another time when it might be more convenient.
There is more to be said about this. The value of reading and praying the Daily Office for our spiritual journeys, the use of supplemental material to augment and inform, the reflections on the saints of the church as offered by the Episcopal publication, A Great Cloud of Witnesses, the adapting of the services for streaming, the use of music and singing, how Facebook allows for comments and sharing the stream with friends and beyond.
As I said above, we are in a different time, we are returning to in-church services and Eucharist liturgies. But I am wondering if it would be good for us to also continue streaming Office services. To find out, I will stream Morning Prayer this Sunday at 9:30 and Noonday Prayer at 12 noon, Monday through Friday, on the St Paul’s Facebook page. Below is a copy of the text for this coming Sunday’s Morning Prayer. The text will be visible on the stream, but you may also like to have a copy. I am offering this not as a supplement to, but as an addition to the Eucharist services already being offered at the church. I encourage you to attend the Saturday evening service in church and/or view both streamed services. Pay attention to how the different offerings and venues touch different modalities of spiritual awareness and engagement. Consider how they make you feel and why, and what that might mean for further thought and planning of our common life of prayer. And consider how, as a tool for spreading the gospel and building community, streaming differs from brick and mortar.
This past week during Noonday Prayer, we have been reading a setting of Psalm 133. This psalm begins, “See how pleasant it is for God’s people to live together as one!” It is this unity of our spirits with the spirit of Jesus that is our delight when we pray together. For this purpose, I am inviting your family, via the St Paul’s Facebook page, into our home this Sunday, June 13, at 9:30 a.m., for a Service of Morning Prayer. The services will last about 30 minutes. Come as you are.
Blessings on your family and on your home,
The Rev David L Vickers