Friday, 27 June 2014

Evening Prayer in the Twenty-First Century and Blowing on My Embers

I posted this photograph on Twitter last Wednesday: the brightness of his presence through the clouds seen in the reflection of the trees and the sky on the iPad page. Pleasing. I noticed the photograph before I noticed verse 7 near the bottom of the page

It comes from the Daily Prayer feed from the Church of England via Aimer Media's Daily Prayer app and my iPad camera. 

Daily Prayer gives me Morning, Evening and Night Prayer each day. I don't have to look up what day it is, or the readings, it's all there so I can follow my nose through the office without even switching apps. It is Scripture set to prayer and two readings from Scripture morning and evening. I don't have to be feeling spiritual or holy, it just picks me up wherever I am and however I'm feeling and carries me along in that mysterious yet absolutely trustworthy and true  holy stream which is the Daily Office. Brilliant. 

Then, there came this message on Twitter: 
It's an Ember Day?!?!?!

…to which I replied: 
According to the CofE Daily Prayer iPad- iPhone app it is.

Maple Anglican then pointed out, correctly, that we'd just had Ember Days two weeks ago during Whitsuntide (BCP for "just after Pentecost") and wondered whether there was an error in the app. The makers of the Daily Prayer app then entered the conversation: 
I have found it is correct - EDs are normally observed Wed, Fri & Sat in the week before Sunday nearest to 29 June

…which a little Googling showed is true for the CofE. Concerning Ember Days, Rules to Order the Christian Year states: 
Traditionally they have been observed on the Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturday within the weeks before the Third Sunday of Advent, the Second Sunday of Lent and the Sundays nearest to 29 June and 29 September.
The intriguing thing is that what Maple Anglican says is true also. For Canadian Anglicans,
Ember Days of solemn prayer and fasting are traditionally kept at the turn of the four seasons (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday after Advent 3, Lent 1; the Day of Pentecost and Holy Cross Day). The origins of the tradition are obscure, but in time Ember Days came to be associated almost entirely with solemn prayer for ordinands. In this case the BAS suggests they do not need to be kept at the traditional times, but in relation to local diocesan ordination arrangements. The Ember Days, like Rogation Days, have been de-emphasized in liturgical revision since the 1970s, but there seems to be a reviving sense of their pastoral usefulness. They can be helpful in engaging the church in intentional and deep prayer for its whole ministry: for peace in the world, missionary work, Christian unity and economic justice. (From here)
Who knew? So far I haven't found why we do the week after Pentecost and they do the week before the Sunday nearest June 29. It's one of those lovely, odd Anglican things. Perhaps The LORD thought we need an extra set of Ember Days. 

To me, the important thing is that we just keep praying whatever the day. Ember Days are a lovely idea for prayer whatever the week—special days to drill down a bit deeper, to keep the devotion-to-Jesus-Christ embers burning, to fan them into flame (2 Tim 1.6) and to be a nice dry bit of Anglican kindling for Jesus, ready to burst into flame should he come to baptize me with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Luke 3.16). 

Many thanks to Maple Anglican and Aimer Faith Apps for the conversation and for making me do a little extra blowing on my embers.