Morning Matins at CTS

by Beverly Weeks, 3rd year M.Div.

Moses and David – two people that I’d like to chat with some day. I’d like to know what it was like for Moses to be so impacted by being in God’s presence that his face became radiant (Exodus 34:29-35).  And how did David come to be described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14, Acts 13:22)? I yearn to be in that kind of relationship with God! Imagine glowing from being in his presence!

Of course, we can only imagine what those relationships were like. For ourselves in 2013, we find lots of encouragement in the Scriptures to pursue our own close bond with God. But honestly and realistically, pursuing closeness with God is not an automatic happening for us. So much stands in the way – sin (that’s the biggie!), schedules, responsibilities, and even our theological studiousness here at CTS.

Years and decades ago, it would be common to hear many CTS graduates say that their faith was sorely diminished during their time spent at Calvin Theological Seminary. Spiritual formation was not part of the curriculum and everyone was on their own to figure it out for themselves. How sad. But today, those sentiments are rarely heard. That’s because of the increased focus on the faith formation of students, staff, and faculty alike. Our walk with God is encouraged in all sorts of ways – chapel, prayer groups, mentoring groups, an MDiv and MA class (Theological Education as Formation for Ministry), morning matins, as well as many other ways. Many of us have put together a plan for our personal spiritual rhythm of life and have shared our plan with our mentoring groups.

All of these spiritual formation opportunities are encouraged by the CTS faculty, its Committee on Community Culture, and its Spiritual Life sub-committee. Their mandate is to encourage and assess private and public worship opportunities and the spiritual health of our CTS community.

One thing that I’ve heard from many pastors is that if we, as students, don’t put our spiritual rhythm of life into practice, right now, while we’re students, it’s highly likely that we won’t pursue that practice once we leave Calvin Theological Seminary and are involved in ministry. And almost without fail, burnout and trouble will be soon to follow.

So I offer one possible means to regularly pursue God’s heart – Morning Matins at CTS! You are invited to attend any or every weekday morning, 7:40 – 7:50 am. We gather in the Fireside Room (and we usually have the fire going!), just off the Student Center. If you come a few minutes early, it’s a great time to meet and get to know new people – faculty, staff and students. Then we stand to face each other at the conference table and one of the leaders gets us started.

Here’s a sample of the liturgy that we follow:

  • Words of Gathering and Preparation
  • Psalm (read antiphonally)
  • Prayer (by the leader)
  • Hymn (from PsH, Sing!, PFAS)
  • Gospel Reading
    • Followed by silent meditation
  • Response (Lord’s Prayer or Apostles’ Creed)
  • Blessing
  • Exchanging of God’s Peace with each other

Matins has been a practice of God’s people since the very earliest days of Christianity. The word comes from the Latin, having to do with “morning.” It is one of several daily offices of prayer and scripture in a number of Christian traditions. Here at CTS, our particular pattern of liturgy is just one of many variations. Want to know more? Just ‘Google’ the word ‘matins’ and you’ll find all sorts of information.

One thing I appreciate about Morning Matins is the silence (about a minute) after the gospel reading. It gives me time to determine how the message of the text can impact and inspire my day. So, for example, in today’s reading about Jesus and the little children, I was encouraged to be authentic and uninhibited in my thoughts about God and my prayers to him today.

If you have an 8:00 am class, come just a tiny bit earlier and join us! If you’re in your office, set a timer so you’ll remember to come! If you’re already studying in the Student Center, stop for a few moments for this refreshing time! And if you’re at home, thinking that someday you’ll get around to practicing a regular time of prayer and Scripture, Morning Matins at CTS is a great way to get started!

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, 
for I have put my trust in you.
 Show me the way I should go, 
for to you I lift up my soul. 
Psalm 143:8

 Words of God’s unfailing love . . . in the morning. Hear them, speak them, sing them, pray them, meditate on them . . . in the morning at CTS Morning Matins. We gather during Spring Semester at 7:40 am for ten minutes in the Fireside Room – a psalm, a prayer, a song, a gospel, an extending of God’s peace to each other. Like Moses, “Those who look to him are radiant” (Psalm 34:5a).