Recently at St. Francis we have reemphasized the Daily Office. As part of this reemphasis, I want to commend Graham Kings’ reflection on the Office to you. This was delivered at the Covenant Conference in Dallas in early Decemeber. Unfortunately, due to flight schedules I was unable to hear this reflection in person, but thankfully–and to your benefit as well–the recording is available at the Covenant site. Enjoy!
Apart from ‘Daily Prayer’, ‘The Office’ reminds me of two things: firstly, the popular English comedy series, which was recontexualised in Pennsylvania; and secondly an excellent name for a pub. If I ever owned a pub – which I am very unlikely to do – I would consider calling it ‘The Office’. Then, if relatives or friends wondered where you were, you could phone and say, ‘I’m still at The Office’.
In the wonderful collect for Bible Sunday, we pray ‘help us to hear [all holy Scriptures], to read, mark, learn and inwardly digest them…’. As we say the Daily Office, we are formed by God through his Scriptures.
Officium is the Latin word for ‘duty’. Whenever we think of ‘duty’ in the Anglican Communion we also think of ‘joy’: ‘It is our duty and our joy at all times and places…’. So, at Morning Prayer, you report for duty and get your orders. At Evening Prayer you clock off, if you like, and you salute. That is one way of looking at the Office. It has got to be done. As we shall see, it is enjoined upon clergy, but also with the ‘tolling of the bell’, it involves lay people as well.