Daily Prayer at General Synod: An Introduction

It is 10 hundred hours and it is a good time to pray. I have twenty minutes between "spots" at the window. I'm still new at this, and I'm not sure if I can take off the headset that keeps me connected with the rest of the crew, so the voices over the air-waves keep talking even though I am at prayer. There is a part of me that is aware that the safety of the aircraft and its personnel can count on me being able to buckle down or grab a piece of equipment at a moment's notice, so I listen with my ears and struggle to turn my heart to the Lord, and give thanks for the incredible people who share this insignificant piece of air-space with me.

I am a military chaplain, an Anglican priest who serves with the Canadian Air Force. My "parishioners" for today are the pilots who are flying the aircraft, the navigators who are searching the screens, and the crew who are glued to the windows on twenty minute intervals, searching for a missing fishing boat. We are five hundred feet above the Bay of Fundy, it is minus eighteen degrees Celsius, just above the water hangs a layer of ice fog, and above us, cloud; separated thus from the world we are joined in the common task of search and rescue. In twenty minutes I will return to my window, a vigil filled with prayers of a different kind: Dear God, let us see, help us to find them . .

But for now, I turn to the ancient ritual of the church: Morning Prayer. The crew moves around me, respecting that I am at prayer; expecting that this is part of my task, my work, my job. And as I reach in my heart for the familiar words, "O Lord, Open thou our lips . . .", I also reach across the span of time and space to seek Christian men and women whose duty, job, and joy it is also to pray for the church, the world, and all God's people. And so, in the wonder of God's incredible love for us, the mystery that makes us one in prayer no matter where we may be scattered, and in the awesome majesty of God's sanctification of this new day, together we pray, " . . . and our mouth shall show forth thy praise."

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The sun just won’t go down fast enough these days. Toddler and baby are, by 8pm, terribly over-tired, but it takes the complete darkening of sky to soothe them into sleep. Bathing, changing, tickling and cuddling, rocking and singing, reading slowly the same story, with the same colourful pictures and bold text I’ve been seeing for the past month, at least- just the usual routine.

It is night after a long day. What has been done has been done; what has not been done, has not been done. Can I let it be? I think of the day, at the end of which it seems that more has been left undone than done, and what has been done has been the usual things: things of joy in play, things that pull on my patience and twig my frustrations, the usual stuff of multiple diaper changes, inopportune phone calls, feeding mess, temper tantrums; and through it all those fleeting, inexpressible delights in a child’s smile, a successful clean-up, a friend dropping in for a surprise visit. Yes, it’s true: I’m not sure that I would have remembered these wee joys, had it not been for taking this time at the end of the day to remember who I am, who we are in God.

And in this soon-to-be-quiet household, we turn to the church’s rhythm of Compline, baby calmed, toddler in my arms (I can’t hold the book, so make do with what I can remember of the service!) I don’t know that they recognize the words yet, but they know the rhythm. And as I try to still my own heart for prayer, I know I and my children are not alone, but bound with all those at this time, and in other times, in my town and other towns and counties, whose evening prayer offers the day to God, prays for peace in our hearts and in the world, and gives voice to our trust that God is watching over us, with even more love and attention than I hold my own children on this well-worn couch. “Lord, now let your servant depart in peace, for my eyes have seen your salvation.”

There is something grating about the understanding of prayer as "work" as if work were just a four letter word. There is a truth to this understanding that we must own, however, for it lives in the very heart of what it means to be a liturgical people. The word Liturgy, in Greek, Leiturgia, means "the work of the people for the good of the people." As liturgical people our leiturgia is the harvesting of God's work: the gathering of God's bounty for the good of the world. As people of faith when we enter into the  prayer of the church we are, in some mysterious and magnificent way, gathered into one throughout the ages and across continents.  Through the opening of our hearts we become the vehicle of God's love and mercy:  we pray and we listen, we are challenged and we act, drawing upon a power that means we can do so much more than we can ask for or imagine. God's power, given to us to do God's work. And so, we become aware with the passing of each sun-rise and sun-set of the awesome mystery of God's work of creation and salvation - and more than that, we become aware that we are a part of it.

As a member of the General Synod, you are a part of a working body – discerning and deliberating, engaging in dialogue, reflection and decision. All of this work is anchored in the work of you, the body, at prayer. This is who we are, first and last: a people held by and called by a loving God through the Spirit, to be God’s witness to the world of the love, forgiveness, reconciliation and new life we have been given in Christ. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer, daily eucharists, are the offerings that both frame and nurture our life here.

Each morning, The Lord’s Prayer will be sung, using the following setting: The Lord’s Prayer para. Keith Landis, 1986. Music: Keith Landis, 1980; harm. John Rutter, 1986. Text and music ©1994 Selah Publishing Co., and can be found in New Songs of Rejoicing, Selah Publishing.

Saturday, May 29

Morning Prayer
Morning Hymn: Today I awake , Common Praise #9
Responsorial Psalm: 37:3-7
Scripture Reading: Exodus 3:1-5
Hymn: Wind who makes all winds that blow Common Praise #249
The Lord’s Prayer Sung
   
Compline - Vigil of the Feast of Pentecost
Opening Hymn: To You before the close of day Common Praise #26
Responsorial Psalm: 145
Scripture Reading: Isaiah 11:1-9
Hymn: Isaiah The Prophet Voices United #680
 
On Sunday, May 30, Members of General Synod will be visiting parishes in the St. Catherines/Hamilton area for the celebration of Pentecost
 

Monday, May 31

An abbreviated Morning Prayer will take place in Home Groups prior to the Celebration of the Holy Eucharist in the O’Sullivan Theatre. The Primatial Election follows.

 
Morning Prayer following Bible Study
1 Samuel 3:1-11  
Collect for Morning (Feast of the Visitation)
Hymn: God the Creator
   
Compline  
Hymn: To You Before the Close of Day
Responsorial Psalm: 122
Scripture Reading: Galatians 5: 16-25
Hymn: Come Down, O love divine
   

Tuesday, June 1

 
Morning Prayer
Morning Hymn: Sisters and Brothers, with one voice
Responsorial Psalm: 66
Scripture Reading: John 15:12-17
Hymn: Eternal God, Lord of all space and time
The Lord’s Prayer  
   
Compline - Vigil of the Feast of Pentecost
Opening Hymn: To You before the close of day Common Praise #26
Responsorial Psalm: 121
Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:12-26
Hymn: From the falter of breath/The Last Journey
   

Wednesday June 2

Morning Prayer  
Morning Hymn: Je louerai l’Eternel
Responsorial Psalm: 96
Scripture Reading: Luke 16:19-26
Hymn Through all the world a hungry Christ Words by Shirley Erena Murray; tune: Veni Creator Spiritus
The Lord’s Prayer  
   
Compline  
Opening Hymn: To You before the close of day Common Praise #26
Responsorial Psalm: 123
Scripture Reading: 1 Corinthians 3:9-17
Hymn: Loving Spirit
   

Thursday June 3

Morning Prayer
Morning Hymn: Before the world began
Responsorial Psalm: 139:1-13
Scripture Reading: John 20:11-16
Hymn: He Comes to us as one unknown
The Lord’s Prayer  
   
Compline  
Opening Hymn: To You before the close of day Common Praise #26
Responsorial Psalm: 124
Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:12-end
Hymn: Day is done, but love unfailing
   

Friday June 4

Morning Prayer
Morning Hymn: What gift can we bring
Responsorial Psalm: 150
Scripture Reading: Matthew 16:13-23; John 18:25-27
Hymn: Would I have answered when you called
The Lord’s Prayer  

The meeting of the General Synod will end at Christ Church Cathedral in Hamilton with the Closing Eucharist and Primatial Installation.