A Pentecostal Girl in a Baptist Church Reads the Book of Common Prayer

“Look, girls, this is Abraham Lincoln’s hat!  Isn’t that amazing?  His actual hat that he wore on his actual head!  Cool, huh?”

“Yeah, mom, cool!  Wow” and then they skipped off to the side where a touch screen terminal allowed you to pull up videos on almost every historical subject ever.

“Oh….my….goodness…” I exclaimed. “It’s Kermit!  It’s THE ruby slippers!”  “Look at this!  It’s George Washington’s desk and his field kit.  Wow!  George Washington touched this.”  Incredible, huh?”

“Cool!” my daughters said as they turned back to the museum’s electronic history mini-game.

On a recent trip to the National Museum of American History I learned that young kids don’t really share my appreciation for relics of the past.  They liked history well enough and enjoyed the trip.

Yet, they were drawn like magnets to all the electronic gadgets and doo-dads the museum had added to make the exhibits more interactive.

I, on the other hand, could have just stood in front of a hat, a cane, a chair, and a medical kit and marveled all day.

Perhaps one day, when they’ve learned how quickly time rushes us through life and how people matter, when they discover that it’s hard to make an imprint on this world and leaving a legacy long after death is a marvel, then maybe they’ll treasure relics, artifacts and heirlooms–the physical reminders of people from the past.

For now, though, it’s just “stuff” and the people are little more than black and white photographs on a history book page.

I’ve been thinking recently about the heirlooms of faith, not just salvation itself and the handing down of the Gospel.  But the prayers and readings that unite us to a long history of Christians, centuries and centuries of believers on their knees echoing the same thoughts and words before God’s throne.BookofCommonPrayer

One of the family “heirlooms” I keep on my fireplace mantle is my Grandmother’s Book of Common Prayer.  I’ve had it there since her death years ago, but I’ve never once opened it up.

The tradition of her faith was so very different than mine. I grew up in a Pentecostal church that taught me valuable faith-lessons, doctrinal foundations, daily Bible reading, personal, intimate and honest prayer, and passionate worship.

My faith is alive and vibrant today because I was taught and encouraged to be personal and interactive with God. I wouldn’t trade or change that foundation for anything.

I feel like I’m drawn to the idea of liturgy, though, much like a museum visitor gazing at Lincoln’s hat and thinking about how this “thing,” this “physical object” connects us to living and breathing people from the past.

I’m not changing churches, denominations, or my personal statement of faith.

Yet, how important it is to remember that salvation isn’t new to 21st century Christians.  Connecting with the past reminds us anew that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). It reminds me that God cared for His people since the creation of the world and that my testimony of His faithfulness joins with the testimonies of believers for thousands of years.

God is bigger than me and bigger than my brief time on this earth. 

I’m curious about this prayer book sitting unopened on my shelf.  First published in the 1500s, it was meaningful for centuries, uniting the hearts of God’s people to pray and read Scripture together.

It was a way of ordering your spiritual walk, not based on your own personal whims, emotions or circumstances, but on the life of Jesus Himself—beginning with the first Sunday of Advent and the account of Christ’s birth.

The object itself isn’t holy, isn’t to be worshiped and isn’t inerrant other than the Scripture readings themselves.

Yet, there’s something breathtaking about opening a prayer book on the first Sunday of Advent and reading the same Scripture passages that Christians have read on this very same day for hundreds and hundreds of years.

And while these pages may be oft-read and well-worn for many who have followed those traditions year after year, for me—for a Pentecostal girl attending a Baptist church in the year 2012—opening the Book of Common Prayer is a wild act of discovery.

Usually each December, I choose my Bible reading plan for the year ahead.  I’m typically a One Year Bible-kind of girl.  This season, though, starting this first Sunday of Advent (Dec. 2nd), I’ll be following the two year-Scripture and prayer plan in The Book of Common Prayer.

It’s a long-held tradition, an heirloom that I’m taking down off a shelf and making new and fresh for me.

What will be you be doing to keep your faith alive and growing in 2013?

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For more information on the history of the Book of Common Prayer, what it’s all about, and how to use it, you can visit this site or watch this video on why it can be used along with spontaneous and personal prayers to build our faith.  The daily Bible reading schedule is provided here.

Christian Writers Blog Chain

Today’s post is part of the November topic ‘Heirloom’ by the ChristianWriters.com Blog Chain. You can click on the links on the right side of this page to read more articles in this series.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in the Fall of 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

11 thoughts on “A Pentecostal Girl in a Baptist Church Reads the Book of Common Prayer

  1. Chris Vonada says:

    Hmmm, 2013, just starting to think about that one!

    Your writing did bring something to mind to me that I wanted to share…

    Re: D.C. – I’ve always felt that we (Americans) should travel there at least 3 times in our lives: First, as kids to enjoy the kid stuff; Second, as young adults, when we take our kids (to enjoy the kid stuff); and Third, as older adults, to enjoy the rest of the stuff (like the hat, cane, medical kit, etc). That way, during our lifetime, we will all get the full experience.

    As I was reading your “heirloom” post today Heather, I thought… gee, maybe the concept of creating heirlooms is really (at least in part) about these 3 phases, or experiences, where we build upon each one, and that’s a part of what we pass along?

    Don’t know, just a thought… (since I am always thinkin’)

    Thanks, Heather, for a wonderful post 🙂

    • Heather C. King says:

      I was blessed to grow up an inexpensive Metro ride away from Washington, DC and went there often, especially as a teen. It’s my favorite place. This was my first time taking my kids, though. Very different experience! What you say is interesting–that perhaps we all grow from receiving heirlooms, passing them on, and then truly cherishing them. Thanks for the thoughts!

  2. Deborah K. Anderson says:

    I’ve never been there, Heather. After reading this, though, I’m inclined to go. 🙂 Beautiful story, beautiful testimony of your faith. Talk about an heirloom. 🙂

  3. Lynn Mosher says:

    Very thought provoking, Heather. Years ago, we took the kids to the Smithsonian. They loved it! So did we! Leaving the kids these memories is one of the greatest heirlooms we can give our kids. Thanks for this. Bless you!

    • Heather C. King says:

      It was our first family vacation this year to go back to Washington, DC with our kids. My husband and I grew up in that area, but our children had never been. I think you’re right—that the family memories of trips like this are great heirlooms. Vacations had never been high on our priority list for time or money, but they need to be!

  4. kerimae says:

    I totally resonate with this because I ponder the same things when I open our hymn book to sing in our church. How many millions have sung those same songs!! We have an amazing heritage.

    • Heather C. King says:

      I think there is something special about learning from the lives and lessons of those in the past while allowing new generations to pursue God and worship Him with fresh, personal and creative praise.

  5. Carol Peterson says:

    I enjoyed this post so much, Heather. I grew up Methodist, attended a Lutheran church for 7 years, a pentecostal church for 7 years and a non-denominational evangelical church since then. I’m very ecumenical! I believe no one denomination has it all “exactly right” but that each has a piece or an emphasis and that, in the end, seeking God is what pleases God most.

    I love the liturgical and the rituals even if my daily bread of worship includes more clapping and hand raising today. Lovely post. Great reminder that the faith of earlier generations is an heirloom to be valued.

    • Heather C. King says:

      Carol, I love how God has given you such a unique insight into this because of the variety of churches you’ve attended. I agree that this is about seeking God and about worshiping Him wholeheartedly. We are so easily sidetracked into endless debates, essentially over style not substance. It’s funny that I’m very much a hand-clapping, hand-raising kind of girl, which perhaps makes this journey into the prayer book adventuresome. Thanks for sharing!

  6. davidbrainerd2 says:

    A two-year reading plan in the BCP? What? You must be using that fruity 1979 version rather than the traditional ones, i.e. 1662 (used in Britain) or 1928 (traditional U.S.) version. The 1979 has virtually ZERO connection to the BCP from the 1500s, although it does have a connection to Vatican-II and modern political correctness. If you want to get in touch with the past, go for the 1662 (which you can order on amazon as an import from England) or the 1928.

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