Morning Prayer (through the looking glass part two)


The two services I’d been to so far had been big public affairs. I felt safe tucked in amongst everyone else. I thought the next day’s “Morning Prayer” would be the same. No.

I strolled into the Abbey 10am on a sunny morning. Abbey very quiet. Shop and cafe not open, very few tourists about. The Morning Prayer service was to be held in the Lady Chapel, a smaller chapel in the south side of the Abbey, which seated say 40 people. When I approached this morning there was one person in there. I smiled vaguely and carried on walking until I was safely round the corner.

I examined an ancient stone artefact until I heard some more people arriving and talking. Sloping off would be cowardly, and this was an opportunity, away from everything. So I girded my loins and walked back round and joined the congregation.

The congregation was the priest, two people and me.

Like the other two larger services, this was quite formal — even though there were only four of us! Quite friendly but quite formal. There was no sermon or singing. There were prayers we did together, call-and-response type prayers, with the priest leading, moments of silent prayer, and readings. I found it, not quite moving, but very affecting. When I realised there would be readings I remember worrying if a reading was from Luke 7:36f I would probably cry.

Compared to the Eucharist and the Compline, this service was very plain, but in the same way I loved the formality and the deliberation, the pace.

Of course as soon as the service was over I was the centre of attention. The priest marched over and shook my hand. I remember saying how new everything was to me. I said, “I am a Christian, but I don’t know anything about all the different kinds.”

The priest was the Boss Priest (?) of the Abbey, so he couldn’t stay long (which miffed me a bit). He introduced the other two and said they were “Charismatic Methodists” — so even though this was a very High Church church, lots of different types all seemed to rub along together nicely. One of them cautioned me not to “get bogged down in the theology”.

I lied about my wife — I said she was ill that morning. For some reason I didn’t want to say that my Christian “project” was secret. I imagine they worked that out though. The man said a prayer for my wife. The woman said a prayer for me. We said our goodbyes and I walked off in a daze.

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  1. The Empty Cross | Luke 7:39

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