Yesterday on Facebook, people were posting gratitudes and hopes for the New Year, asking for inspiration, for assurance that the future would be better (not just better, but the best year ever!). There was a quote from C.S. Lewis – “There are far, far better things ahead than we ever leave behind.” There was a prayer – “O God of new beginnings and wonderful surprises, thank you for the gift of a new year.” One person even suggested “good riddance” to 2012.
Remarkably, no one said that 2012 was the best year ever. No one talked about the blessings or inspiration of the past. None of the posts proposed a meditation for all we learned last year or recommended that we set aside time on the 31st to think on our successes or misdeeds. What is with this need to cast off the past? I can’t help but think it is because we live in this United States of Amnesia (as Bill Maher calls it) that most of us have skipped the memories of 2012 and have run head long into 2013. Before the ball dropped in Times Square on New Year’s Eve, 2012 was ancient history.
It may be because of this phenomenon that the forward to the Commentary on the American Prayerbook is an especially appropriate place to start a new year.
The forward was written by The Rt. Rev. Chilton Powell, second bishop of Oklahoma. Bishop Powell chaired the Standing Liturgical Commission during the years that the work on the 1979 revision was completed. To learn more about Bishop Powell click here.
In his forward Bishop Powell recommends the Commentary not only as an outline for understanding the Prayerbook, but also as a framework for more serious study. He uses Marion Hatchett’s words to remind us of the connection between how we pray and who we are:
“Anamnesis is the antithesis of amnesia. A person with amnesia
has lost identity and purpose. To know who you are, to whom you
belong, and where you are headed, you must remember. . . ”
(Commentary, page 366)
The Anamnesis is that part of the Holy Eucharist when we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ has risen.
Christ will come again.
If you are using the A Year with the BCP guide as daily study, you will explore the Anamnesis in depth in August. In January though it does seem perfect that, as we begin a new year and a new journey through the BCP, Hatchett reminds us that the rites and responsibilities we find in the Prayerbook keep us connected to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and to Christians past, present and future. We also may find a way to keep ourselves connected to 2012 or even 2011 learning more about the good, bad or indifferent events in our own lives.