A letter from Father Howard Stowe
All of my life I have loved early worship. I was shown how wonderful it can be at a Methodist church camp where we were sent out alone each morning for a quarter hour of “Morning Watch.” Sitting by the ocean, I learned that prayer didn’t have to be a lot of words but that God would pray from within. Sometimes God did. Sometimes God didn’t, and I’d spend that time watching a hermit crab or examining a curious shell. Or maybe that’s when God was praying in me the most.
I have always loved early Masses. They were what brought me into the Episcopal Church when I was 16. I’d serve Mass early on weekdays, sometimes with snow falling and no one there but Father Robbins and me. The parish I served in New York City had Mass every morning at 7 o’clock. Getting up to go to any of those services wasn’t easy, but inevitably, when I got inside the church, I found myself entering that same inner space I’d known as a boy.
Beginning Sunday, September 18, our 8 a.m. Mass at St. Stephen’s in Coconut Grove, FL, will take a new format.
It will be a meditative time with silences and prayers, quiet chanting and a homily; a time that invites without making demands. Its simplified ritual will be grounded in the Book of Common Prayer. We will celebrate the Word of God and then all join in the Sacrament of Holy Communion, the Eucharistic thanksgiving for the gift of Christ and his Real Presence with all people who gather in His name.
I invite you to join me and others for this early worship. I sincerely recommend that you give it a try and see if this “morning watch” might just open your eyes and heart to see how God is working in our wonderful, if often distracted, lives.
Father Howard Stowe