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Hallo again to all.

We feel fortunate our commute to work can take us through woods, past marshes, and along the shores of the ocean. We are able to cycle to work on a path with no automobiles — which lends a heightened awareness of the wonderous Creator to our commute. The half hour we spend at the beginning and end of the work day riding silently and alone allows us time to meditate and prepare for the chaos of the workplace and to let go of the stresses of work before arriving back home.

We can tell the difference between the days we cycle to the office and the days we use an automobile for the commute. We much prefer the bicycling days, but we find it impractical when we have scheduled external commitments or appointments somewhere not close to our office.

When we are regularly cycling to and fro, our spiritual life is richer. We use the time to pray, to reflect on readings, to recite collects or hymns inside our head. We feel more spiritually fit when we commute via bicycle.

Unfortunately, our tendency lately has been to use the auto. Somehow the appointments off the bicycle route have increased in frequency, and we are more often required to appear at work sooner and stay later. We feel a bit guilty about it, and the loss of our two quiet daily rides does not afford us the same respite from worry or chance to listen for God's voice. Plus we miss pedalling past egrets standing in the marsh and smelling the wild grapes that grow along parts of the path.

It dawned on us that our dilemma between having time for regular spiritual nourishment and the demands of our daily life was similar to the dilemma and loss of worship rhythm a friend of ours is experiencing in their home parish.

Our friend used to be quite active and served a number of ministries. A few years ago, a new priest was assigned to the parish and made changes that felt somewhat capricious to a number of the old guard. The priest has continued to make changes that confuse many long-time parishioners. There has been a definite trend towards exclusive behavior, an 'in-crowd', if you will, making it more apparent to those on the outside of the circle that they are not equally part of the community. Our friend started to withdraw from most of the ministries that had been so personally fulfilling and helpful to the parish. Then we noticed our friend would occasionally not be at service on Sundays. It has reached a point now where their absence is more usual than their presence, and so we note when they do attend.

We cornered our friend the other day for a chat about why they had not been in church. The answer saddened us: 'What does one do when one is made to feel a stranger in one's own parish?' Our friend said church was no longer nourishing. Liturgy is important to our friend, and the current clerical leadership of the parish is constantly changing worship in ways that do not mesh with rubrics in the Book of Common Prayer or with inclusive corporate communion.

This was not the first time we had heard a member of that parish express these sentiments in recent years. We trotted out the old saying, 'priests come and go, but the parishioners are the community that stays.' Together we read Article XXVI of the Thirty-Nine Articles, Of the unworthiness of the Ministers, which hinders not the effect of the Sacraments. But we understood our friend's quandary. Does one stay in a situation that feels toxic and unloving simply because it has been one's church home for many years? Or does one start searching for a new community of faith in another place?

When we don't know what to say, we find collects from Compline silently running through our head.

Be our light in the darkness, O Lord, and in your great mercy defend us from all perils and dangers of this night; for the love of your only Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

Be present, O merciful God, and protect us through the hours of this night, so that we who are wearied by the changes and chances of this life may rest in your eternal changelessness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Visit this place, O Lord, and drive far from it all snares of the enemy; let your holy angels dwell with us to preserve us in peace; and let your blessing be upon us always; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Keep watch, dear Lord, with those who work, or watch, or weep this night, and give your angels charge over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ; give rest to the weary, bless the dying, soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous; and all for your love's sake. Amen.

And so we prayed whilst thinking of our wearied friend and all those who may be suffering silently in the pews or at their homes. And we will recommit to regularly commuting on our bicycle so that we can regularly include them in our intercessory prayers.

See you next week.


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12 October 2014

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