A. In the Book of Common Prayer, 1979, "service of light" may refer to two things. The first Service of Light refers to the first of four parts that customarily comprise The Great Vigil of Easter, in which the Pascal candle is lit and the Exsultet sung. The introductory rubrics of Evening Prayer: Rite Two also use "Service of Light" to refer to what is elsewhere called An Order of Worship for the Evening. This latter service of light is a versatile, if under-used, service of the Prayer Book that "may be used as a complete rite in place of Evening Prayer, or as the introduction to Evening Prayer or some other service, or as the prelude to an evening meal or other activity. It is appropriate also for use in private houses" (BCP 108). It is as a stand-alone service that St. Francis House is using the Service of Light on Sundays throughout the summer this year.
Q. Why is St. Francis House starting a new service in the summer?
A. Good question. This is the first summer in a long time that SFH has had weekly worship through the summer. We are trialling this weekly summer service at the suggestion of students and with the recognition that the majority of SFH students are staying in Madison this year.
Last summer, a monthly Eucharist was introduced on the last Sunday of each month. We will continue that practice this year, worshiping with the Service of Light on all other Sundays.
Q. What is a Service of Light like?
A. The Service of Light, as ordered at SFH, is a service of darkness and light, Scripture, simplicity, a lot of singing, and one extended silence. The service begins in darkness and, in time, each participant is invited to light a candle representing both the prayers of the participant and her share in the light and love of the Gospel. The songs we sing, as well as the intercessory prayers, come from the Taizé tradition, which, in addition to echoing themes of simplicity and silence, comes from an international community. So we read and sing in multiple languages familiar to members of the community.
The service is accessible, easily followed, and - by its simplicity - ecumenical in nature. All are welcome. Come and see!