For most of my life I assumed that liturgy was inherent in worship. I would not have imagined worship without liturgy. While we weren’t high church, we were Methodists. So our worship services always included hymn singing, candles and recitations of prayers, creeds and Scripture.
A few years ago I discovered and embraced non-liturgical worship. It was refreshing and I got a significant spiritual boost from it.
But I also came to miss some of our liturgical traditions.
So my discovery of Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals came at a good time for me. Compiled and co-authored by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okuro, Common Prayer is exactly what it claims to be. It is a liturgy aimed at Ordinary Radicals, a term coined (I believe) by Shane Claiborne in his awesome book The Irresistible Revolution (for more on that, click HERE). Ordinary Radicals are “ordinary” folks living in radical new ways. Shane and Jonathan are founders of a New Monastic movement that is gathering in lots of ordinary radicals, who are trying to make a difference in the world by better following Jesus.
Being admirers of the New Monastics, Cherie and I attended a Common Prayer book release event in Durham, where we were able to meet Jonathan and some of the wonderful folks from Rutba House, his community there. Since getting a copy of Common Prayer that night, I’ve made it a regular part of my day.
With prayers, readings and songs for every day of the year, the book is essentially a guided liturgical worship manual, permeated with an ethic of love and social justice. The book anticipates that the worship will be done in community, but I usually do mine alone.
For every day of the year, there are prayers, songs, scripture and usually some inspirational quotes to begin the day. On the day I am writing this, for example, there is a powerful quote from Francis de Sales encouraging love of the poor. The concluding prayer reads: “Lord, turn our praises into hands that clothe the naked, arms that comfort the afflicted, tables that host the stranger, and shoulders that support the weary so that your name may be praised by those who live and die with their backs against the wall. Amen.”
There is a mid-day prayer, which is the same every day. It can be memorized and recited at work, school or wherever midday happens to find you. Here it is:
Draw us into your love, Christ Jesus : and deliver us from fear.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me so love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not
so much seek to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.
Silence for meditation
Make us worthy, Lord, to serve our brothers and sisters throughout the world, who live and die in poverty and pain. Give them today, through our hands, their daily bread and through our understanding love, give peace and joy. Amen
Blessed are the poor.
For theirs is the Kingdom of God.
Blessed are the hungry.
For they shall be filled.
Blessed are the meek.
For they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are the pure in heart.
For they shall see God.
Blessed are those who mourn.
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the merciful.
For they shall be shown mercy.
Blessed are the peacemakers.
For they are the children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness and justice.
For great is their reward.
Come, Holy Spirit. We pray that your fruit would be in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Dear Jesus, help us to spread your fragrance everywhere we go.
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from the side of Christ, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me
And bidst me come to Thee
That with Thy saints I may praise Thee
Forever and ever. Amen.
Through our lives and by our prayers: may your kingdom come!
In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.
Passing the Peace
There are seven different sets of evening prayer, one for each day of the week. The book also has prayers specifically for Holy Week and for specific occassions (ranging from a Prayer to Welcome the Sabbath to a prayer upon the Death of Someone Killed in the Neighborhood).
It is cool and inspiring to know that as I pray these prayers, I am being joined by brothers and sisters around the world who share my passions.
I have been enriched by Common Prayer.