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Altar guild is a ministry of service that has its roots in the historical Hebrew tradition of the Levites. We are a part of those people who have been set aside for service. When we offer ourselves to serve at the altar, we are offering ourselves to God as a living prayer.

We must set aside time for prayer. The more we do this, the more aware we are that we can live our lives as prayer. When I first began the discipline of Morning Prayer, I would take my day’s first cup of coffee and sit in my dark sunroom with my prayer book, Bible, and Forward Day by Day. My favorite opening is “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer.” After a few weeks of making this prayer, I found that as soon as I awoke, before I even opened my eyes, these words would come to mind.

And so, I begin morning prayer at my waking. In prayer groups we use the confession in the New Zealand prayer book that says, “Some sins are plain to us, some escape us, some we cannot face. Forgive us.” And the officiant’s response, “God forgives you. Forgive others; forgive yourself.” While I make my coffee, I go through my confession. Then by the time I am in the sunroom, I am ready to begin the lessons of the day.

Then prayers. This is my time to offer myself, and those I love, and those I care about, and those I do not know but have been asked to offer in prayer.

The sun is up by the time I begin the Great Thanksgiving, and I am aware of the beauty and completeness of God’s world. As I finish, my prayer does not end with the Amen but continues with the awareness of God’s love and my continued offering of myself through the day.

by Fran McKinney


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