Christmas Gift Idea: A New Time Zone

“We [in the church] enter a new time zone, where it can feel like there is a ‘cloud of witnesses’ surrounding us, praying for us, cheering us on from eternity.  It should feel like we are singing, ‘Holy, Holy, Holy’ with all the people of God who have come before us” — from Common Prayer

Consider blessing a friend or loved one (not to mention yourself) with just-released Common Prayer:  A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals.  Three friends I deeply respect have put it together: Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (he, Emmanuel Katongole, and I just finished teaching our “Journeys of Reconciliation” class), Enuma Okoro (her recent Reluctant Pilgrim is getting rave reviews), and Shane Claiborne.  590 pages, thickly and beautifully bound in the tradition of treasured devotional books, this merits getting deep into our daily bones.  There are morning, midday, and evening prayers and Scripture; rich, paragraph-length stories of saints (our family read the one on the “real” St. Nick at dinner last night); a monthly commentary on a “Mark of New Monasticism”; and even songs.  How often do you see the following in one set of Occasional Prayers: “Before or After a Meal,” “A Prayer to Welcome the Sabbath,” “Death of Someone Killed in the Neighborhood,” “A Prayer for Adoption,” “A Litany to Honor Women,” “Celibacy Commitment”?  Especially those serving in the ministry of advocacy with the poor and building beloved communities at the margins will find here a daily gift that bridges the false “Jesus-justice” divides and connects us to those who have gone before and the God who lovingly sustains the world far beyond and beneath our efforts.  Amidst all the demands and busyness, what better gift than being drawn into that new time zone every day?

About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School.  He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.

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