Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Heavenly Liturgy

Tuesday, October 30, 2007 -- Week of Proper 25

"Morning Reflections" is a brief thought about the scripture readings from the Daily Office of Morning and Evening Prayer according to the practice found in the Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church.

Morning Prayer begins on p. 80 of the Book of Common Prayer.
Evening Prayer begins on p. 117
An online resource for praying the Daily Office is found at www.missionstclare.com
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site www.ExploreFaith.org at this location -- http://explorefaith.org/prayer/fixed/index.html

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from http://www.stpaulsfay.org/id244.html (go to St. Paul's Home Page www.stpaulsfay.org and click "Morning Reflection podcast")

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer p. 990)
Psalms 45 (morning) 47, 48 (evening)
Ezra 5:1-17
Revelation 4:1-11
Matthew 13:1-9

Whenever we begin the Eucharistic Prayer, we start with the Sursum Corda -- "lift up your hearts." It is an invitation for the earthly congregation to join with the heavenly congregation in worship that unites all of heaven and earth in praise. Sometimes we use spatial metaphors to help us think about such things. It is traditional to think of heaven as "above" -- the transcendent dimension that is beyond us yet sometimes accessible, especially at "thin moments and thin places" such as times and places of worship. We lift up our hearts -- traditionally understood as the seat of inner emotion and thought -- to heaven. We go inward to go outward; we go down to go up.

John begins this section of his Revelation hearing a heavenly invitation: "Come up here..." He says, "At once I was in the spirit..." He ascends by going inward; he goes down to go up."

The vision that John receives is a vision of the heavenly liturgy. At the center is God, "one seated on a throne." A throne is a place of power, especially political power. Around the throne are God's triumphant people, the twenty-four elders, also seated on thrones. There are several possible explanations for the twenty-four. It is a doubling of the symbolic number 12, the number representing God's people. In this scene in Revelation, they may be the 12 tribes of Israel plus the 12 apostles, or possibly the 24 orders of priests, or even the 24 figures of the zodiac. They are the victorious heavenly counterpart to the earthly community of God's people.

All of creation is awake and singing in harmony around the heavenly home. The four orders of creation have eyes that fully understand and the freedom of six wings of mobility. The liturgy flows with beautiful unity. Creation sings the Sanctus: "Holy, holy, holy the Lord God the Almighty, who was and is and is to come." And God's people respond glorifying God, "You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created."

This is the eternal heavenly worship that we enter whenever we offer our earthly praise. The liturgy of the Eucharist is composed in such a way as to invite us into this chorus of universal praise. We join in the song of the heavens. We enter the presence of God. What happens in heaven is mirrored on earth. We go in and up; down into heaven.

Whenever we pray, especially whenever we share the Eucharist, we are joining with the glory, unity and harmony of the heavenly praise of God. It is a good thing to be intentional and conscious of that connection. As it is in heaven, may it be on earth.


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The Rev. Lowell Grisham
Paul's Episcopal Church
Fayetteville, AR

The Mission of St. Paul's Episcopal Church is to explore and celebrate
God's infinite grace, acceptance, and love.

See our Web site at www.stpaulsfay.org

Our Rule of Life:
We aspire to...
worship weekly
pray daily
learn constantly
serve joyfully
live generously.


At 10:50 AM, Blogger The Underground Pewster said...

Whenever we get to the Revelation of John, I have to wonder what he was smoking. I am afraid that there are parts of my mind that snatch away John's words like the birds of the parable from Matthew 13:1-9 which we read today. "And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up... Let anyone with ears listen!" I will try to keep an open ear to John as we progress through Revelation again.

At 11:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Lowell, I read and love your daily comments...thank you.

Please tell me where your quote"thin moments and thin places" comes from...I've heard and read it before but I can't remember where.

Fondly, Suzan Sams, Pine Bluff, AR


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