that the next generation might know them…
When you get to church this Sunday at either 8am or 10:15am for worship, arrive a little early so you have time to pull out the Book of Common Prayer in the rack in front of you. Look at the spine and notice whether it’s smooth or cracked. Now turn it over to look at the page edges and notice where the dark stripes are.
Now, let the prayer book fall open. There are several pages where it might land, but my money is on page 355, The Holy Eucharist: Rite Two, the liturgy we use with some adjustments. I was surprised that the prayer book I used for this exercise opened to 351, the Penitential Order, that you can use any time, but I’ve only seen in regular use during Lent. Maybe someone intentionally broke the spine there because it just wouldn’t stay open one Lenten Sunday when they were really trying to get into the spirit of the thing.
You might also get page 323, The Holy Eucharist: Rite One. If you do, then your prayer book spine is probably very cracked, like the one in the photo. Do you see the smudges from page-turning fingers? Where else does a light touch land you when you gently flip through the pages? The Collects? The Prayers of the People? The Psalms? Maybe the Rite of Burial like mine did? *
What you are looking at is 45 years of devotion. The joy, grief, praise, longing, and thanksgiving of people worshipping God at Trinity Church since 1979. One of the pleasures of the prayerbook is how it tangibly connects us to the Communion of Saints across time.
Our current bulletin strategy is a good one for folks who are new to our liturgies or have children to wrangle. Still, a seasonal order of worship with weekly inserts lacks the mystery of turning pages and reading print that our spiritual forebears (or our younger selves) did. So, the Book of Common Prayer will reliably remain in Trinity’s pews so that future generations can reach out those who came before them, including us.
* You can also probably do all this during the sermon, too, but I’d rather you didn’t.