Wednesday, March 1, 2017

A Concise Prayer Book.

From The Living Church--

Many wise voices today point out that we do not need to revise the 1979 prayer book, as we do not embody all of what it has made available to us. I agree. In my experience with seminary students, many of our younger generations do not want a new and improved, expanded prayer book. Rather, many want to be reconnected to a tradition from which they feel distanced. They want ancient, connected, continuous, simple, transformative liturgy. That is something we need to remember when we consider any revisions. When we decide that the time is right for prayer book revision, the real work will be to figure out ways to revise the 1979 book so that all of the liturgical gifts it already gives us can be more fully embodied in our churches.

There are two movements, two motions — pendulum swings — that characterize the history of liturgical revision throughout Church history and within the Anglican and Episcopal tradition. One movement pushes boundaries, expands, grows, and adds. As historian Robert Prichard has observed, the other movement looks to contract, to sort, or to shift in order to find lasting value. The 1979 prayer book is an example of pushing boundaries and expansion for the sake of comprehensiveness, experimentation, and even restoring more ancient practices. Due to our culture and the precedent set by the 1979 prayer book, our temptation now is to add, to compose, to proliferate. But the next best move should be toward contraction: not for constriction’s sake, but to progress by sorting and shifting so that we find a selection of liturgy of lasting value, a concise prayer book that contributes to truly common prayer.

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