I’ve just returned home from the 180th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Tennessee. After the better part of two days spent in meetings, considering resolutions and hearing reports, I’m pretty much brain dead and for the most part am only doing the most necessary things (like reading stories to my 9 month old son) before bed. But, in the quiet this evening, as I reflected upon tomorrow’s gospel text and ordered my thoughts for my sermon and brief report on convention, my attention was caught by one of the old Prayer Books that sit on my shelf. This one is a beautiful 1928 Book of Common Prayer printed in 1929 by Cambridge/James Pott & Company in New York. It has fantastic red under gold edging on the pages of india paper. But it’s beauty isn’t the best thing about it. It’s what’s inside this Prayer Book, which I picked up at an SPCK book sale while I was in seminary at the University of the South, School of Theology.
As with old Bibles, old prayer books become the repository of mementos and notes, cards printed with favorite hymns and hand written heartfelt prayers. As I flipped through its pages tonight, trying to still a mind that is still on over drive, I noticed the section of family prayers toward the end, it’s pages marked with the incidental dirt of hands pressed against them in prayer. Obviously the owner of this prayer book had used these family prayers frequently, even marking certain ones with an x, presumably to indicate favorites: For Quiet Confidence, For Guidance, the first of two prayers for trustfulness, and finally the prayer for Joy in God’s Creation and For the Children.
Marking these pages were several sheets of paper including a Prayer for The United Nations Organization adapted from the Book of Common Prayer, and Acts of Devotion. Finally there was what seemed to be the most interesting piece, at least for the present, a prayer for the unemployed by the Bishop of New York, reproduced below:
A Prayer for Those in Need through
Set forth by the Bishop of New York
For Use in the Churches of the Diocese and
by the People in Their Homes
O Almighty God Who hast blessed the earth with all that is needful for the life of man, give Thy help and comfort to all who are in need and especially to those who are now suffering through unemployment; stir us to do our part for their aid and relief; help us to realize our responsibility for the injustices of our social and industrial life; fill us with the desire to purify our civilization and make it truly Christian that we may be delivered from the evils alike of grinding poverty and of excessive riches; lead us into the paths of simple and upright living; take from us the spirit of covetousness and give us the spirit of service; show us the way so to order our life as a nation that, receiving the just reward of honest labour, none may want, but each according to his need may share in Thy bountiful provision.
We ask this in the Name of Him Who came into this world to show us the way of justice and love, Thy Son Christ our Lord. Amen.