Evening Prayer 1.12.15, Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167


3 thoughts on “Evening Prayer 1.12.15, Aelred, Abbot of Rievaulx, 1167

  1. Thank you for posting this. I’ve looked over about half of your blog, including the Quaker stuff, Gay stuff and all of Signe Wilkinson’s wonderful speech. I’m struck by your search (at least I take it to be yours) for community in your present circumstance, including the pieces about the Disciples of Christ/Christian Church, which I know quite well.

    I am Gay and a lifelong Episcopalian. I think we do pretty well at community, contemplative silence, peace, justice and equality. We do have a Creed, though, so we are not Friends. I think it keeps us focused on God, the Son Jesus and the holy Spirit within, so we are not Unitarians either. We’re Christians, in the only church I think I could stand.

    If you ever want to talk, let me know. It hurts to be spiritually adrift, so I pray that ends for you soon.

    1. Thank you for your very gracious and welcoming comment. I really appreciate the fact that you’re interested in reaching out. 🙂

      I’m also happy to tell you that I’ve already found Episcopalians to be extremely close to the balance I’ve been looking for!
      I haven’t posted in a while on WordPress, because I was taking a very hard look at the Episcopalian church. I’ve thought about Episcopalians a lot actually, but coming from a more Evangelical and low church background, the liturgical nature of Episcopalian worship and the establishment history of Anglicanism had always made me a bit wary. But I had a few internet friends who seemed grounded in a deep Christian faith and spirituality that I found missing in some of the other denominations I’ve explored. So eventually, I decided to attend an Episcopal service to see what it was like.
      I began attending services in December and after doing a bit of church hopping, I found a community that I’m comfortable with. I actually joined the choir on my second Sunday, lol. And I sang in it yesterday!

      I’d love to talk more with you about your journey as an Episcopalian and and especially as a clergyman. I’m interested in becoming clergy
      but I know that being an Episcopalian clergyman is a lot more involved (might even say intense) than in a more low church faith like the one I grew up in, to say nothing about UU or Quakers. So I’d love to get any insight I can.

      Thanks again, and message me back anytime.


  2. Daniel, what amazing news. Singing in the choir within a week!

    Let me clear up a misconception right away, I’m a layperson. I did go to seminary but my call is to be a lay minister. I have more freedom this way, especially regarding social justice, LGBT rights, racism, sexism, poverty, peace, etc. A telling thing happened at seminary; it was only five years after Stonewall, so Pride Day marches were demonstrations and protests, not the large commercial spectacles they’ve become. I read about the march in the Village Voice and felt I owed it to the prophet Amos to attend, so I did, even though I had just come to New York from Indiana, was only 22, didn’t know anyone, and it was pretty scary, with more dumbfounded onlookers than marchers. The odd thing was that I was the only one there from the seminary, even though one-third of the students and faculty (even then) were Gay. Was I the only one who paid attention to Amos? Not at all, but I was the only one who didn’t have a career in the Church to worry about. Laypeople are freer than clergy.

    You worry about our Establishment history; that makes sense for a Quaker since Anglicans are the ones who persecuted Friends (and other Nonconformists). So two observations. First, people did go to war over theology back then, but it was all subsidiary to politics, and we can’t understand the theological debates without reference to nation-building, foreign policy, taxation and the emergence of democracy. The more I learn, the more I’m sympathetic to both sides. When the dust finally settled modern England took shape, with constitutionally limited monarchy, political control vested in Parliament, the Church of England reduced but still “official,” and everyone free to believe whatever they wish. Today George Fox is on the Church of England Calendar of Saints; his feast day happens to be tomorrow.

    We’ve forgiven him; Quakers don’t seem to forgive us, and yet that conflict is what led to his and others’ many spiritual insights. (Hating the arts was not one of them.)

    As for the Episcopal Church in this country, we used to be the “rich man’s church,” even within my lifetime, but that started changing radically in the 1960s and ’70s as we began to confront racism and sexism. The rich abandoned us in droves, which made us a better Church. We first ordained women priests in 1974, Gay and Lesbian clergy a few years later, and I’m sure you’ve heard of the big split ten years ago about a Gay bishop. Today we have an official liturgy for same-sex weddings.

    All these things have made us a much more faithful Church – somewhat smaller but more sure of ourselves and of God. Thus the Church I see today is more unified, peace-loving, faithful, mission-oriented (75% of all Episcopal churches have programs to feed the poor), and spiritually alive than ever before. Though we seldom sit quietly in church, we have Quiet Days, weekends and weeks. Silent meditation and centering prayer are practiced by hundreds of thousands of us. (And not just us, of course, the same currents also flow through other mainline churches. The pastor who taught me centering prayer was a Disciple of Christ.) Monastic life was revived among us in the 19th century, and it has always featured daily silence. Far bigger than our few dozen monasteries are the thousands of “oblates” and associates, clergy and laypeople who follow a modified Rule of Life, including daily prayer and meditation.

    You are not used to liturgy (“ritual,”) but let me tell you why I think it matters – besides Christ’s own command, “Do this.” We get a heavy dose of Bible, both on Sundays and in the Daily Office (as you’ve seen on our site), and this programmed worship means we constantly hear the justice demands of Christ and the prophets. Every day we say the Creed, which prevents us from becoming, um, atheist Quakers. (When the Inner Light is the only source of divine wisdom, of course the concerns of mortals will displace God’s word every time.) And every Sunday we gather around a table for the ritual meal of bread and wine, after a recounting of God’s infinite love for us in the only Son’s sacrifice of himself. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

    It’s the Eucharist that keeps us from becoming Unitarians – who are wonderful people, but even their clergy don’t know what they believe. “Lex orendi – lex credendi” (what we pray is what we believe) has kept us honest and kept us Christian.

    And yeah, we get it all out of a book. But we’re very alive today, and we believe as Quakers do in continuing revelation. (So every now and then you’ll see prayers for LGBT people on our site.)

    As you explore, my prayer for you is that you find the community God calls you to, whether that’s my church or another. The soul longs for spiritual union with God. I find the means for that in the Episcopal Church, and so may you – but if not, then go with God.

    Here’s the one thing I’ve learned so far: we can’t know what God’s saying to us unless we shut up and listen. Sometimes s/he speaks to us in the Bible, sometimes in music (go choir!), sometimes in other people, but most personally s/he speaks to us in silence. I heard something when I was there at seminary, the first of three times these past 60 years, and now I listen every day.

    Join us for a live webcast sometime – five mornings a week plus Friday nights. Dailyoffice.org is not just a website anymore, it’s a community, and we’d love to have you join us when you can. A small group of 20 (with room for more), the morning sessions take about a half hour. Friday nights are longer and more meditative; we play a lot of videos to induce passive receptivity in ourselves.


    P.S. Did you know St. Aelred is the patron saint of LGBTs? Funny you picked this day to ping back.

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