This past week someone dropped off a few musty books that they obviously couldn’t bring themselves to recycle. So like the unidentified mason jar from the root cellar, Peter Early spoke of
in his stewardship testimonial they gave them to the church. Three of the books were far too gone to be useful and weren’t heirlooms. One little book was interesting. A Pocket Prayer Book from the Upper Room published first in 1941 with the copyright renewed in 1969.
Two things struck me. First the inscription inside the cover.
To Marilyn, in Christian Love – God Loves You and so do we. Signed (I won’t share this since I don’t know the people) 1981. What a joy to have friends who are willing to share God’s love.
Then I took a peek inside and was struck by the prayers that were included in this little volume. It is only 142 pages in pocket form so Ralph Spaulding Cushman needed to be thoughtful about the items he included. The prayers included are in many ways a contemporary today as they were in 1941 and 1969. What is even more striking is that many of the prayers come from an even earlier time. The first prayer from this Pocket Prayer Book I want to share speaks on our need to be Cheerful and how we often don’t wake up with such a disposition. This prayer doesn’t come from 1941 or 1969 but it dates from 590 A.D.
The perception that we have evolved beyond those of earlier times is a great myth. The more we see progress and technology the more the commonality and basic nature of humans comes into focus. Couldn’t this prayer have been written today?
“O God, who hast folded back the mantle of the night to clothe us in the golden glory of the day, chase from our hearts all gloomy thoughts, and make us glad with the brightness of hope, that we may effectively aspire to unwon virtues, through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.” – An Ancient Collect, A.D. 590 (pg 35)