Before I left seminary, people warned me how much I would miss the regular worship life. I already knew they were right - I missed the worship life just over Christmas break! Now, I was one who tried to take advantage of the wide opportunities at Seabury. For those of you still there, I truly hope that you will do the same. The chance to have daily communal prayer and worship is simply an amazing gift and powerful spiritual disicpline, and not something to be taken for granted.
So, I was very happy to learn that at my new church, we have a Tuesday noon Eucharist in the chapel. I was a little less enthusiastic when I discovered that the altar is attached to the wall, and the it is really a Mary chapel... but still, I'm glad for the extra worship during the week. Last week, the rector presided, and I did the deacon's role - and observed him doing the whole "east-facing" thing. Today was my turn. Even though the rector is still here (he leaves on vacation later this week), I was going to do the entire service on my own. I chose to transfer yesterday's feast of Benedict of Nursia, marked my BCP and the Bible, found a nice reading from Sam Portaro's book Brightest and Best, and even had a good chat with a friend on some liturgical points. At noon, I was ready to go. Alas... I was the only one ready to go. No one came to the service this week. Now, east-facing altars and Mary chapels are a bit beyond my piety but I was willing to go with it. I am not, however, willing to stretch that to private priest Eucharist. I said noonday prayers, read the Gospel for Sunday (I"m preaching), put my vestments away and locked up.
Seminary changes you. Three years ago I couldn't possibly imagined myself excited to celebrate an east-facing service in a Mary chapel - heck, I'm not sure I was really aware there was such a thing. But I hope that as my ministry progresses, I never stop feeling a twinge of disappointment when the chapel is empty, even if I did need the private prayer time.