The Great Search

Category: , By Christian
All I wanted was my own copy of The Book of Common Prayer. It seemed like an easy enough request. After all, it is an essential worship tool for a significant number of Christians and is the primary liturgical resource for the Episcopal Church (USA), the Church of England, the Church of Scotland and many others. Numerous times I have heard it referred to as "one of the major works of English literature". It must be the only book to fall into that category that you can't find anywhere.

I had a particular yearning for this book for a couple of different reasons. First, I needed a book of order for one of my classes and I felt a certain compulsion toward this particular book when my professor raised the point that most Evangelical churches these days follow the Hallmark calendar more than they follow the Christian calendar. Ouch. I know some absolutely smashing people who work for Hallmark, but it is true that the early church was probably a little more in touch with the spiritual rhythms of the year than Hallmark is.

So I resolved to not only get the book for class but to actual use it. In fact, I plan on using it daily through Lent beginning with Ash Wednesday when I will attend a service at an Episcopal church. I'm excited for the event because I have very little experience in High Church worship, so it should be an illuminating experience for me. If all goes well, I will actually use The Book for an entire year and for the first time in my life experience what it is to worship according to the Christian calendar.

With all this in mind, I set out to find my Book of Common Prayer last week. I was a little panicked, because for some reason I thought that Ash Wednesday was last week. That would have been bad news, because procuring The Book is no easy task. I first tried one of my favorite used bookstores, but to no avail. So I moved onto a favorite independent bookstore only to be offered a novel called a Book of Common Prayer. That just wasn't going to cut the mustard.

Now, I could have just ordered one online, but I'm not that type of guy. Whenever I need to purchase a particularly important volume for my library I feel as though I need to have a relationship with the book. I want to touch it, flip through it and smell it. This can become a weakness when I have to search through numerous bookstores because I am indeed prone to book lust. There is something about the smell and the quiet and the sights of a book store that make my pulse race. There are always wonderful volumes calling me from the shelves and begging me to take them home. And yet, I can't do it. I can't take them all home, no matter how much I might want to. I really do deserve a pat on the back for buying exactly zero extra books during my quest for The Book.

Ok. Back to the story. So after many attempts at being quaint, I finally broke down and trudged into Barnes and Nobel. It's a great store, but it lacks a certain personality. It seemed to be my last hope though, so I bit the bullet and did it. No dice. Not one copy of the book in the entire store. Sigh.

Finally I called one of the largest Episcopal churches in town. The thought ran across my mind to just slip in and steal one of the pew copies, but then I'd have to be reminded of that little sin every time I grabbed the book and that didn't seem like the optimal paradigm for worship. Plus, if the church secretary or Priest caught me on my way out the door I would then have to run over an older person, and I really didn't want to put myself in that situation. Plus, they are probably way more holier than I am and my random act of selfishness would just increase the stratification of holiness between the two of us. So I just called and asked where they thought I could find a copy of The Book. The bad (and amazing) news was that they didn't have any in their own book store. That's just odd. The good news was that they were able to point me in the direction of a Catholic bookstore down in the hood (where I work) where I could probably find one.

Viola! Four stores and two phone calls was all I needed to find a book that should have just been raining down from heaven like manna.

Fair Dinkum

1 comment so far.

  1. The Mollinator 1:51 PM
    While I love our BCP, and do use it everyday when our staff does Morning Prayer, my favorite has become the New Zealand BCP which I think is a more relevant and easier read with all the same components. Next time, take the copy though. Ask one of the ministers for thiers. We always keep more of them in the back. =)

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