You guys, I think I want to be a monk.
Okay, no, I don’t. But I do want to worship with the monks at St. John’s Abbey all the dang time. They are so good at it! It’s like they do it four times a day or something.
The confirmation kids and I visited the Abbey last night, invited by another pastor who has been bringing his confirmation class for several years. (Pro Tip: This is the very best kind of networking. Thanks, Pastor Bryant!) Dorrie, my GPS, led us on what I’m sure would have been a very scenic route if it had been light outside. After a few wrong turns and one slightly panicked phone call, we arrived at the Abbey Church:
This photo doesn’t really do the building justice–it is a massive honeycomb schooner, and I mean that in the best way–but you get the idea. We joined the other confirmation class around the baptismal font, where one of the monks was answering questions. (In case you are wondering: they are allowed to drive cars, and they take turns choosing the movie for their weekly movie nights. This monk loves musical comedies.)
Then, we filed into the church and took our seats. Our host helped us set up the three books we would need for evening prayer, and then we sat in silence as the bell tolled and the other monks (plus a few guests) filed in.
And then . . . we had evening prayer. It was a simple service of prayer, psalms spoken and sung, a reading from 1 Corinthians, prayers of intercession, a Magnificat (from the Magnificat section of one of the binders, of course), and silence. And it was wonderful: reverent, meditative, wonderful. I left feeling like I’d just had a massage.
Guests are always welcome to worship with the monks at the Abbey (and probably at an Abbey near you). There is a guest section with a monk who will help you find your way in the books. I foresee a liturgical date night in my future. Dinner in St. Cloud and evening prayer at St. John’s. T hat is not church nerdy at all.
I know I can’t recreate the experience of Benedictine evening prayer at First and Beckville, but it did give me some ideas for our midweek Lenten services, and also for how we pray the psalms every Sunday. Maybe this week we will read them more slowly–they are prayers, after all–taking the time to pause and really hear each word. Worth a try, right?