Last night the giant Maple Tree by the 150 year-old Red Chapel bloomed neon. It looks like God crocheted bright lime green buds on a medieval tapestry, a beautiful mixing of the old with the new. White tulips even popped up outside the Chapel of Saint Mary. You can almost smell the approach of Eastertide, and tonight is the champagne toast and display of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on its 350th Anniversary.
We’re calling it “Gathering Crumbs Under Thy Table.” The phrase appears in the Eucharistic Rites of the Prayer Book, and comes from a Gentile woman who shamelessly pursued the healing of Jesus for her daughter in Matthew 15: “Truth, Lord: yet dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.”
After what is sure to be a spirited sermon by the Very Rev’d Frank F. Limehouse, III, the Dean of the Cathedral Church of the Advent, Birmingham, students and priests and faculty and guests will amble past the small springtime gardens outside the chapel over to the old library to marvel at original printings of the 1549, 1552, 1559, and 1662 Prayer Books of England.
We’re excited about this event because for Anglicans worship and belief are inseparable. We pray what we believe. Theology is not meant to be practiced in an ivory tower. Theology is meant to be lived, worshiped and celebrated in the corporate body of Christ. And for Anglicans, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer has been central to our common worship. “It’s enduring richness and vitality remains fundamental to our Anglican identity,” commends our Dean and President, the Rt. Rev’d Edward L. Salmon, “because its prose is thoroughly biblical, its structure gives glory to God and its theological splendor lies in its affirmation that only through the acknowledgement that God was in Christ reconciling the world can we come to know the grace and peace of God that passes all understanding.”
It’s springtime and yet here at Nashotah we’re celebrating something so ancient. It’s this mix of the old and the new, the green and seasoned, that encourages us in our pursuit of Christ. Christianity, ever old and ever new, is as true and urgent as ever. And every day we get to live our faith together on this small campus in prayer—prayer patterned at the 1662 Prayer Book, prayer taken right out of Scripture.