i get sent books from publishers. sometimes they ask if i'm interested but more often they just arrive - addressed to jonnybaker blog! i never promise to review them though in many ways i wish i had more time as i think books are wonderful and do like to comment on things (unless i really don't like them and then i can't see the point of a review that is totally negative). well this week a book arrived that i had not caught whim of but was a real surprise - common prayer. no - i am not talking about the one that was out in 1662 but a brand new fat hardback that has come out of the new monasticism movement in the US - authored by jonathan wilson hartgrove, shane claiborne, and enuma okoro. it's delightful - laying out liturgies and readings for communities or families (or an individual though it's clearly a book for communal prayer) in the morning, midday and evening along with some songs and occasional prayers and reflections.
something's going on! the tradition is being opened up and re-discovered for a new generation in a very different way. you get the impression that for some this whole approach is very new with explanations of what liturgy is, the church year and so in the introduction. if you have grown up in a setting where this sort of stuff is normal i suspect it will be easy to dismiss this. but you shouldn't - this is genuinely exciting. i think some who love tradition will be shocked that this is out published by zondervan, and the relaxed tone of the intro with words like cool in the mix - it's not exactly a heavyweight religious community feel. but i like that - let's relax and open up the gifts of the tradition in ways that are accessible. many of those making the rediscoveries of liturgy and so on are from the evangelical end of the church where their worship has been dominated by worship bands, preaching and ministry. i think this affords a different kind of depth, reportoire and rhythm in worship.
if you want a flavour of it there is a web site which i assume will become a portal and hub that can grow this resourcing of a movement.
we're going to see more resources like this. i have come across several groups who have created rhythms for their communities and liturgies and a rhythm of prayer and so on. cms, the mission community i belong to, are working on a year book of prayer. it's part of a shift to understand church as being about a life that is lived and fuelled through a rhythm of prayer as opposed to simply being about a once a week gathering. it's also about a maturing recognition that to be a community in the church is to be connected historically and globally into the body of christ and to unite with that rather than ignore it.
it's also a massive piece of work to do something like this. as i say a nice surprise. i have yet to try using the prayers in a communal setting...