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Established 1999
A Wesleyan-Anglican Church in Boise, Idaho

Pilgrimages

An English Pilgrimage

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Entries 14-15, Monday-Tuesday, Third Week of Advent:
London: Departed and Disconnected

I search the used-book stores and new-book dealers of Charing Cross Road, London, for books for the Epworth Chapel on the Green library related to John Wesley, the Anglican tradition which influenced him and which he loved, the Methodist tradition, the writers whom John Wesley influenced, Anglican liturgy, and hymns and hymnody. With such a scope, one might expect that there would be much from which to choose-and one would be wrong: if Londoners' reading interests may be judged by the books the merchants evidently believe will sell, not much that's religious is being read.

Nevertheless, I have some success, particularly one fine hymnal (from Yale University) especially for use on academic occasions, and one complete, excellent-condition nine-volume history of the Anglican Church from its beginning through the 19th century.

London strikes the visitor as a very dirty city, as to both litter and the vices-and one suspects that there's a connection between such open vice and such flagrant litter.

We attend evening prayers at St. Paul's, and sit, with the small number of others, in the side chapel, which was set up like the choir area in a typical chancel, with the three banked rows of seats facing a similar set of rows opposite each other across a narrow floor space. The two clergy lead the prayers in calm and measured voice. As is typical in the Church of England, the Psalms are read responsively by half-verse, with a pause in the middle of each half, following Hebraic custom. At the conclusion and after the grace, the clergy leave in silence, led by the robed assistant who is called a "beadle" and who carries a staff-and who, in earlier centuries, was the parish constable charged with keeping order.

After the clergy depart, we notice the memorial tiles which are placed in front of each lay person's seat. These tiles or plaques contain coats of arms, usually, and other brief information about the deceased person being remembered. The plaques add specificity to the people's prayers for God's grace to follow the good examples of the departed saints.

London surely is the city of mobile telephones; they are so ubiquitous they're almost iniquitous. Using a mobile telephone (pronounced MO-byle, as in, "I'm on my mobile") can be a substitute not only for direct human contact but also for prayer; people want to talk, and the telephone lets them escape from reality-including the reality of God.

Later in the evening we see the English National Ballet perform "The Nutcracker", in which the party scene includes a satire on the British use of the mobile telephone; one female dancer receives a call and then keeps her telephone to her ear for the remainder of the scene, without missing a dance step as she does so. What she evidently does miss, though, is any communication with her dance partner, in favor of her distant caller.

Not only does the persistent and casual use of the mobile telephone serve as a way to avoid interpersonal relationship-human and divine-but also it provides a reflexive escape from thought.

A Boise friend of mine, sitting with a group of men at a dinner when the cellular telephone of one of them rang, said to me, "Really important people can't be reached." In my opinion, in many situations it's really important that people not be reached.

Electronic dependence and worship are at opposite ends of the mental and spiritual spectrum, just as mobile telephones and evening prayers are at opposite ends. Evening prayers involve one's full attention to the present reality of the ever-present God.

Sometimes I think that memorial plaques might as well be put up now, for those who are not here even when they're here.

Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.-Isaiah 65:24 (NIV)

And here we offer and present unto You, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and lively sacrifice unto You; . . . .

"If on our daily course our mind
be set to hallow all we find,
new treasures still, of countless price,
God will provide for sacrifice.

"Old friends, old scenes, will lovelier be,
as more of heaven in each we see;
some softening gleam of love and prayer
shall dawn on every cross and care.

"The trivial round, the common task,
will furnish all we ought to ask;
room to deny ourselves-a road
to bring us daily nearer to God."
- verses 3-5, "New Every Morning Is the Love", John Keble, 1822.

- Christopher

Theme Verse

Luke 1:78-79

Scripture Lessons

Oct 22: Isaiah 45:1-7, Psalm 96:1-9, 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, Matthew 22:15-22

Oct 15: Deuteronomy 8:6-18, Psalm 113:1-8, 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Luke 17:11-19

Prayer Emphases

Nation: South Africa

Denomination: United Methodist Church

Congregation: Osaka International Church, Osaka, Japan, and the Rev. Alisdair McKenna

Ministry: The Anglican Relief and Development Fund

Parishioners: Those living on Esquire Circle

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