If you look at the Books of Common Prayer that are in the racks on each pew (the red book with a cross on it), you will notice that most of them are very worn in one particular section, a little over one-third of the way through the book.  In fact many of them will open right to that section—Holy Eucharist, Rite II.  That’s the part of the book that has been used the most—not just by this congregation (before we printed everything in service leaflets), but by almost every congregation in the Episcopal Church.  There is some really good stuff in the rest of the book, though.  Recently, I’ve had several occasions to root around in the back of the Book of Common Prayer in the section entitled “An Outline of the Faith commonly called the Catechism” (page 844).  Did you know we had a catechism?  As many of you know, a catechism is a sort of teaching outline, meant to give a briefly summary of the Christian teaching.  But, some aren’t so brief.  One of the catechisms I know of from a different Christian tradition is almost 1000 pages long.  Do not fear, the catechism in the Book of Common Prayer is only 19 pages long.  According to its introduction, “it is not meant to be a complete statement of belief and practice; rather, it is a point of departure…a brief summary of the Church’s teaching for an inquiring stranger.”  You don’t have be a stranger to be inquiring, however.  There is some good stuff in the Catechism, and in the rest of the Book of Common Prayer.  Don’t take my word for it.  Why don’t you take one home and explore what’s in there.  Some of you might already have a Book of Common Prayer at home.  This is commendable, and I hope that it sits next to your well-used Bible.  If you have spent some time with both books, you have probably discovered that the Book of Common Prayer is chalk full of Biblical quotes and allusions.  If you don’t have a Book of Common Prayer, take one!  Because we use service leaflets most of the time, it would be ok if you took one of the pew books home you to read and pray on your own.  We can always replace it, if you decide to keep it.  What is irreplaceable is an inquiring mind, and a heart open to God.

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