Archive for November, 2010

Many churches use the Revised Common Lectionary to shape their weekly worship services. The RCL is a three year cycle of weekly scripture readings from both the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) and New Testament. When the cycle is maintained all books of the bible are read, including the prophets, psalms, proverbs, gospels and Paul’s letters. When pastors preach from the lectionary readings it encourages the church to hear and respond to the full gospel in all its textual expressions and guards against focusing on selective or favorite texts. If you are interested in following the lectionary cycle on your own then I recommend Vanderbilt’s website to you.

I especially find it helpful to reflect on the lectionary readings during my daily prayer times so I can meditate on the ‘Word’ during the week and bring a deeper appreciation to what I hear in the sermon on Sunday morning. Try using these readings in your Morning Prayer where Scripture Reading appears. Let me know if this daily ‘reading forward’ enriches your weekly Sunday worship.

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“Our worship in both its diversity and its unity is an encounter with the living God through the risen Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” (UM Book of Worship p.13) If you regularly attend Sunday worship you know by your own experience that there are many ‘parts’ to the service. There is an aspect of gathering, singing hymns, prayer and praise, proclamation through the reading of scripture, a sermon, often a prayer of confession and pardon, the offering of tithes and other gifts, and Holy Communion. The community is sent out from worship with words of blessing and commendation to serve one another in the world.

There are other worship opportunities through which we may encounter the living God but these are less frequently experienced in our local tradition. Morning Prayer and Evening Prayer are most common disciplines for Christians living in intentional community but less common in the worship life of a local congregation.  I recommend both morning and evening prayer to you, as rich spiritual practices that can ground your daily faith walk and bring new life to the Church.

I expect many brothers and sisters have a well established prayer life. I hope that you will begin to share with me something of your practice and experience so we might learn from one another. Others of you struggle with the very notion of a “discipline” as if your daily lives could not possibly conform to a predictable, if not different, rhythm. I cast my lot with you. We are on a journey, explorers of spirituality and prayer. Ours is a “heart in pilgrimage” (George Herbert).

In a recent sermon I was reminded that prayer is the most powerful ‘work’ of the church. We often lose sight of this. What a shame to squander such a power on one morning of the week when we can avail ourselves of God’s grace on a daily basis. In the words of Henri Nouwen, “What else can make us one but prayer? What else can unite us but a common recognition that all that is, is a divine gift calling forth from us words and actions of thanks?” (Space for God, Don Postema, p.8)

I have posted one version of Morning Prayer to encourage you, the reader, to enter the stream of daily worship through prayer and praise.  In future posts I will share a variety of resources to aide in developing your practice. I welcome your thoughts and prayers as we do this work together.

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