Fr Ben’s Year-End Message

As we enter the last month of our bicentennial year, I find myself quite reflective. One particular thought has occupied my time, especially as we step back and participate in liturgies from the 1789 Book of Common Prayer. In a world so different than the one of our church founders how is our role in the community, our mission changing?

When Saint James’ first opened her doors, James Madison was president, we had only 18 states, and Edison’s light bulb was still over 60 years from conception as was the invention of the phonograph. Imagine the role the church played in that community. What happened each Sunday at Saint James’ was in all likelihood the most significant cultural and social event of the week. The church had little competition on Sunday morning (or any other day of the week for that matter). Imagine the transcendent beauty of listening to the organ and raising your voice in harmony with the gathered faithful prior to radio, records, tapes, cd’s, much less iPods and streaming music…. Contemplate the power of a well-crafted and delivered sermon in an age without film, television, or the internet. The church truly was the center of a community’s life.

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The 1789 Book of Common Prayer

At a service during the bicentennial year, the rite of Holy Communion will be read from the 1789 edition of the American Book of Common Prayer, as used when Saint James’ Church was established in Warrenton in 1816. During the intervening two-hundred years, there have been three revisions of the Prayer Book – the most recent of which was in 1979. The order of service has changed, but much of the eloquent language remains familiar throughout the various revisions.

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