Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Solemn Assembly

Wednesday, November 14, 2007 -- -- Week of Proper 27
(Consecration of Samuel Seabury, First American Bishop, 1784)

"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
Another form of the office from Phyllis Tickle's "Divine Hours" is available on our partner web site at this location --

Audio Podcasts of today's "Morning Reflection" and those from the past week are available from (go to St. Paul's Home Page and click "Morning Reflection podcast")

Today's Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p 992)
Psalms 119:97-120 (morning) 81, 82 (evening)
Nehemiah 7:73b - 8:3, 5-18
Revelation 18:21-24
Matthew 15:29-39

[Note: I forgot to mention earlier that I would be away at Camp Mitchell Monday and Tuesday of this week for clergy conference. That's why there were no Morning Reflections those days.]

In the first reading from Nehemiah, we experience the re-creation of the community of Israel. The long lists of the the groups who have returned from exile introduces the event. They have resettled in their towns. Now they come together as a solemn assembly to remember who they are. They hear the ancient texts that give them identity, meaning and direction. There is reading and there is interpretation.

It is a holy day, says Nehemiah. The people are moved to tears. They eat the food of the communal festival. The priests invite them into stillness and quiet. Then they return to their villages, refreshed and renewed. "And all the people went their way to eat and drink and to send portions and to make great rejoicing, because they had understood the words that were declared to them."

This is not unlike our experience and rhythm of recreation and renewal week by week on our holy day. We come together in a solemn assembly to remember who we are. We hear the ancient texts that give us identity, meaning and direction. There is reading and there is interpretation, through the sermon and also through the formation hour between worship services.

Our hearts are stirred; our consciences touched. Idealism awakens and there we return to God with repentance and thanksgiving. We eat the food of our communal festival, the bread and wine of the presence of Christ. There is stillness and quiet. Then we return to our homes, renewed and refreshed. We re-enter life rejoicing in the power of the Spirit, and we also "send portions" -- we take the gifts of ministry and service out into the world to those who aren't a part of our assembly. We have understood who and whose we are. We are empowered to live lives newly consecrated to God.



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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

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


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