The blog malfunctioned a bit today. I received a comment on the "prayer service" from my friend Hawk. He offers fine perspectives on liturgical matters. With the malfunction, I have to post his response:
My guess is that someone somewhere thought that this is what the Episcopalians do. Using the BCP there is a service of Ministration @ the Time of Death which typically never happens. The service is like the RC "Last Rites" although it can happen hours or even days after the death. There is also "Prayer for a Vigil" which the BCP comments, "It is appropriate that the family and friends come together for prayers [i.e. Prayer Service] prior to the funeral [i.e. night before]. Suitable Psalms, Lessons, and Collects (such as those in the burial service) may be used. The Litany at the Time of Death may be said...
Anyway, you get the picture. I think "Prayer Service" is actually the Protestant way of saying "Wake" or "Vigil" without sounding to papist. Maybe a way to get rid of the "Prayer Service" is to point to its papal roots (or does that work anymore?).
My post on the prayer service had as much to do with my mood as it did my ignorance. I hold little patience for congregations that do not know why they do things, yet continue to do them anyway. This is one of my patterns. I get pissed off about something I have to do yet choose not to deal with the confrontation about the ideals to which I hold tightly--then in the midst of my brooding, God shows up anyway. Sounds a little like Jonah. Tonight's prayer service was an example of grace. A grieving family and community had an opportunity to experience God's presence.
P.S. My sermons are completed. Miracles do not cease to exist. Our Children's Minister said I "must have taken speed" to get 95 percent of the sermon done by 830 this morning. No speed. But it's done.