Over the last month or so there has been a lot of conversation around our liturgy and some of the choices that have been made as we seek to find meaningful ways of expressing our worship. The language that we use, influences how we perceive and experience God in our lives, and while we have inherited a rich liturgical tradition, the Church has always been seeking more expressive ways of interacting with the Holy. We can see this through the various versions of the Book of Common Prayer that have evolved over time and across space. Perhaps one of the most beautiful examples of this is the New Zealand Prayer Book. (Check out the Wikipedia page for the Book of Common Prayer for a discussion of Prayer Book Revision over the course of time.) Our General Convention, which is the decision making body of The Episcopal Church, has authorized a number of supplements to our current Book of Common Prayer, some of which are expressed in the five volumes of Enriching Our Worship. A similar journey is taking place with our musical tradition, with the publication of supplemental Episcopal Hymnals and resources such as Lift Every Voice and Sing, II and Enriching Our Music.
So, why is it important that we use these resources, you may ask. First, just as is happening throughout our nation, The Episcopal Church is rapidly becoming more multi-cultural and these resources help us to experience God through expansive and inclusive language. There is movement happening in the Church toward Prayer Book revision, and we need to be familiar with these supplemental resources because, if history holds true, many of them will likely appear in our next Prayer Book.
I understand that change can be challenging, particularly when we are asked to consider new language for something that is as meaningful and personal as our prayers. But the Church has never been static, and as our understanding and experience of God continues to change us as individuals, it only stands to reason that the Church shifts too. So, as we continue to draw on our wealth of historical and new liturgical resources, I am forming a Worship & Liturgy Committee to help guide our practices here at St. John’s. Over the next few weeks I will be inviting individuals to be a part of this work and will announce the members of the Worship & Liturgy Committee soon. This will be a Standing Committee reporting to the Vestry. If you have any questions or input as we move forward in this direction, please feel free to reach out to me, and, please keep our Church and this new Committee in your prayers.
Fr. Jeremy is an Episcopal Priest and a Franciscan Friar. He is a graduate of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida with a Bachelor's in History, and Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia with a Master of Divinity. He currently serves as Rector of the Episcopal Church of St. John the Evangelist in Flossmoor, IL and is a Friar in the Community of Francis & Clare.