We've been doing something pretty cool at work recently: morning prayer! Any opportunity for our patients to participate in worship is cool, but our morning prayer is extra cool. Why? Because it is led by a rector on another continent, and the service is conducted in three languages!
The story of how this awesome service came about is worth telling. When I had been in South Africa for a couple of months, I started to really miss my home parish, St. John's. I emailed my rector, Laura, and told her that while I'm very happy here and have found a great local church in Hermanus, I still miss St. John's and the Episcopal services I'm used to. The Anglican service is very similar, but a few small thing are different (like we use the modern version of the Lord's Prayer here, and I find myself missing the thee's and thou's). Laura came up with the idea of doing the morning prayer service over Skype. The thing kinda grew from there, with Laura suggesting that we open it up to the rest of the St. John's parish family, and then it occurred to me to invite my coworkers and patients. See, many of our patients are fairly religious, but they aren't able to attend services at their churches when they're in the care centre because of their medical conditions. So I think it's great to give them an opportunity to come to a formal prayer time right here in the centre.
Remember, most of our patients are Afrikaans speakers, but some speak Xhosa as a first language. I don't speak either Afrikaans or Xhosa, and neither does Laura. Luckily, I was browsing through one of the bookshops in Hermanus one day and I came across the Anglican version of the Book of Common Prayer in both Afrikaans and Xhosa! I bought them, and now I have access to the service in all three languages. So that's how our morning prayer came to be in three languages.
We had our first multi-continent, multi-lingual morning prayer in December. Originally, Laura and I had just planned to have it be a temporary thing during advent, but we have been enjoying it and it is so good for the patients that we have extended it and are now meeting via Skype every week. There have been a few hiccups, of course, like Skype not wanting to work properly, me not being able to find the right prayers in the Anglican prayer book (remember, it is in a different order from the Episcopal one, and I don't even know enough Afrikaans or Xhosa to find the right page number), and of course 'morning' in the US is actually late afternoon in South Africa. But all that is small potatoes when you consider that a group of people has gathered across an ocean for the mutual purpose of worshipping the one true God. To me, that is Chruch (with a capital C).
If you're one of my readers in Richmond, please consider joining us! Morning prayer is at St. John's parish house, 2319 East Broad Street, every Tuesday at 9.15 AM. If you happen to be reading this and you live in Hawston or Hermanus, you can also join us! It's at 4.15 PM our time, at the Care Centre building. (Still on Tuesdays. We're on the same side of the international date line as America.) Ask me for directions to the centre if you need them.
I look forward to praying with you soon!