Ascension Prayer 2023
Lord Jesus, you became human and came to live among us.
For the love of us, you suffered and died for us.
Because you are God Incarnate, you conquered death and rose on the third day.
While you have returned to our Creator God,
You promise to remain with us till the end of time,
And to send us the Holy Spirit.
We rejoice and thank you, Lord Jesus.
Come Holy Spirit, purify and transform us,
Kindle within us the fire of your love.
Adapted from a prayer by Diana Ng-Sutherland
This Convention having, in their present session, set forth 'A Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church,' do hereby establish the said Book: And they declare it to be the Liturgy of this Church: And require that it be received as such by all members of the same: And this Book shall be in use from and after the First Day of October, in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety.
- The Ratification of the Book of Common Prayer (1789)
Growing up Roman Catholic, I was well aware that the ceremonies, liturgies, and rites in the church were in those colored books that sat on the altar or were carried by altar servers to the presiding clergy at each service. And while the portions of the service that were spoken or sung by the congregation were in missals that were found in our pews, there were many more gestures and prayers that the clergy knew and used than were available to the congregation. I was always curious about what other directions were in those sacramentaries.
When I became a member of the Cathedral of St. Paul's Choir, I noticed the red book with the cross that were in every pew. During some of the less engaging sermons (apologies to Dean John Downey - it was me, not you...!), I would look through those books. I began to see that not only were the liturgies for Holy Eucharist in them (and each book "magically" opened to page 355 - Holy Euchatist Rite Two), but there were other services, prayers, and resources in the book. It was a book that contained all of the principle worship services for the church.
When I became a member of the Episcopal Church, a prayer book was given to me, and I've had several versions of it presented to me throughout my journey of faith. I have found it to be a great source of comfort - saying prayers with others before meals or during retreats, celebrating the Holy Eucharist in the archaic yet still poetic Rite One forms, sharing Morning Prayer with our wonderful Monday through Friday gathering in the Chapel of the Good Shepherd. These are all wonderful opportunities that connect us, not just to our brothers and sisters in The Episcopal Church, but with our extended global family in the Anglican Communion (of which our denomination is a constituent member).
Last summer, Kelly Bruckart invited me to recommend a text as a summer read. I shared N. T. Wright's BROKEN SIGNPOSTS: HOW CHRISTIANITY MAKES SENSE OF THE WORLD. While only a handful of folks at St. John's and Grace ordered and read a copy, I found it to be a great source of information about how we live in the world as Christians, and how some of the ways we present ourselves have done damage to how others see us. This year, I invite you to read INWARDLY DIGEST: THE PRAYER BOOK AS A GUIDE TO A SPIRITUAL LIFE by Derek Olsen, published by Forward Movement at
This book invites us to see the Prayer Book (and the other resources approved by our Convention) not only as our source for common worship but also as a tool for our personal spiritual journey. While I have only made it through the introduction, I have already been drawn to its clarity and inspiration. I imagine that it would have answered some of the questions I had early on in my journey to The Episcopal Church, and I can already see that it will challenge me to be more engaged in the wonderful gift that our Book of Common Prayer can be.
I invite you to enjoy this book with me and others this summer. If for any reason you are unable to purchase it through Forward Movement (or Amazon - it is also available to Kindle users), please let me know and I will do what I can to facilitate your reading of the book.
Remember - reading is FUNdamental!
Peace in Christ,