Changing Church – Part 5

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By on March 8, 2022

On-line Night Prayer

For the Bishops of the past it would seem like a fantasy: the ability to draw the whole diocese together for prayer every evening; to have the ability to beam into every Anglican’s home; to lead prayers and to share concerns; to be able to have those virtually attending the service share their concerns.

That is what has happened in this and a few other dioceses. Every night, since almost the beginning of Covid, Archbishop Lynne (or an occasional delegate) has lead night prayer on the dioceses Facebook page. There is so much I want to say about this. This is a modern miracle and one of the best things to come out of Covid.

But let me start with a somewhat comical comparison – remember the “Crystal cathedral”, and the televangelists of the 1980’s and the huge empires (and abuse) built on that programming. This is nothing like that. It is small, informal, even intimate. It is low budget and simple. It almost feels like the Bishop is in the room with you, leading prayer with you.

One of the great things about this is how accessible it is. It is hardly different to switching on a TV and finding the right channel. And Archbishop Lynne is not a techno-wizz to have made it happen. The miracle of technology is that all of the immense complexity takes place behind the scenes where we do not notice – until it goes wrong. We have learned through Covid that we can do technological things we would not have attempted before.

The thing that has interested and delighted me is how a community has grown up around this service. Clerical and lay people from Kootenay and beyond have found this to be something they wanted to do. Christians often have a pattern of prayer which includes morning and evening. But this is a gathering for daily prayer, and that is rare in today’s society outside of major centres, churches and cathedrals. I am glad for our bishop to have this group praying with her.

The service has functioned as a place of mourning too. When we heard that Jeff Donnelly had passed away in January, many of us gathered at night prayer because we could not gather in the church. The words of the service took on a different meaning as waves of sadness washed over us. It was good to be able to do that and to gain strength from that community.

Finally I would note that night prayer is one of many types of on-line service which have exploded into our consciousness since the beginning of Covid. As I will say in another article, we are seeing the greatest phase of liturgical creativity in the church in our lifetime, and possibly since the reformation.

Author

  • Canon Dr. Neil Elliot is the Dean of West Kootenay Region and Incumbent for St Andrew/St George, Trail.

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