Liturgy as Spiritual Practice – Prayerful Tuesday

Kneeling in Prayer
Kneeling in Prayer

According to my old college American Heritage Dictionary “liturgy is a noun defined as a fixed set of ceremonies, words, etc., that are used during public worship in a religion; ritual.” [1] As followers of faith traditions we most often encounter liturgies when we attend religious services.  But all rituals having a set order to the words spoken and are also liturgies. Graduation ceremonies, inaugurations, State Union Addresses, weddings any ritual using an set order of service uses a liturgy.

We may also use liturgies in our private prayer and spiritual practice’s.  Some traditions have small books with liturgies for each day of the week that include morning, mid-day, and evening prayers.  Each meditation includes a prayer, scripture, maybe a written meditation, and sometimes poetry or pictures to contemplate.  In addition to a traditions individual prayer books there are also many other books that provide written rituals for private prayer.  (You will find a short list of a few of my favorites at the end of this meditation.) Today I am going to introduce you to a liturgy from one of my all time favorite prayer books and offer how I use these resources in my prayer life. One of the advantages of having a liturgy already written out for you is you may adapt them to fit your day and your lifestyle.

I most often use prayer books when I am very stressed out and can’t find a way to sit still and listen for the still small voice of God.  Using a liturgy that includes a blessing or poem, scripture and a prayer calms my heart and open a door into soul allowing me to find my still point and open up to what God is trying to tell me.  If you are new to prayer, any kind of prayer, these pre-written liturgies may provide you with a stepping stone into a regular prayer life.  They allow you to slow down and step across a threshold to you own sacred space.  But, just as with every spiritual practice, you must set a regular time aside each day to read the liturgy.  Most are short and may be read in only a few minutes.  However, setting aside 10 to 15 minutes as a starting place will allow you to sit with the written prayers and scripture in silent contemplation.

Today I offer a liturgy I’ve adapted from a meditation for Tuesday from the Earth Gospel, a guide to prayer for God’s creation written by Sam Hamilton-Poore.   It is an adaption I have used before in my own private prayer and one that allows me to go deeper into that sacred space of my heart.  As you read may you also find a blessing within the words.

Opening Blessing: Edmund Banyard

Holy is the soil we walk on,
Holy everything that grows,
Holy all beneath the surface,
Holy every stream that flows.

A moment of silence

Scripture: Psalm 23 Common English Bible (CEB)

The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
   he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name.

Even when I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no danger because you are with me.
Your rod and your staff—
they protect me.

You set a table for me
right in front of my enemies.
You bathe my head in oil;
my cup is so full it spills over!
Yes, goodness and faithful love
will pursue me all the days of my life,
and I will livein the Lord’s house
as long as I live.

Reflection:  “The Avowal” by Denise Levertov (1923-1997)

As swimmers dare
to life face to the sky
and water bears them,
as hawks rest upon air
and air sustains them,
so would I learn to attain
freefall, and float
into Creator Spirit’s deep embrace,
knowing no effort earns
that all-surrounding grace

Closing Prayer:

Into your arms, loving Lord, let me “free-fall,”
upheld by your goodness and mercy.
Secure in your embrace,
show me how to love without effort,
trust without fear,
and live with abandon.  Amen

Resources:

  1. Deleon, Roy ObiSB, Praying with the Body, Bringing the Psalms to Life, Paraclete Press, Bewster, MA, 2009
  2. Hamilton-Poore, Sam, Earth Gospel, a guide to prayer for God’s creation, Upper Room Books, Nashville, TN , 2008 (my offered liturgy will be found on pages 106 and 107)
  3. Newell, J. Philip; Celtic Prayers from Iona, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ, 1997
  4. Rohr, Richard, YES, AND . . . Daily Meditations, Franciscan, Media, Cincinnati, OH, 2013

Ruth Jewell, ©January 28, 2014


[1] The American Heritage  Dictionary, 2nd College Edition, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston MA, 1982

 

Prayerful Tuesday, Paying It Forward, August 27, 2013

Remembrance
Remembrance

Prayer Practice of Paying It Forward

Paying it forward is described as the recipient of a good deed turning and doing a good for some else instead of rewarding the donor. It is based on the idea that if everyone shared what they had the world would be a better place. Today, this week, I would like you to practice the “Prayer of Paying It Forward.”

Examine your own lives and identifying when someone gave you something special, helped you out when you were in bad place, or lifted your spirits when you were depressed. Let the memory of what they did fill you again with the joy of a generous gift. Now as you go through your day and through this week you may meet someone who also is in need of a special helping hand, a word of praise, someone to listen to. Offer to them a moment of your time, a word or phrase to cheer, or gift of physical resources without expecting acknowledgement or repayment. If they ask just tell them to “help someone in the future when they need it.”

Today’s prayer:

A Celtic Prayer

‘Maintain the right of the lowly,
rescue the weak and the needy.’
Psalm 82

Let me be awake to life
In my soul and in my seeing
Let me be alive to the gift of grace
of each person I meet
Let me be fully alive
Let me be fully aware
Of earth, of sky, of sea,
Of every human family
of all creations glory
Let this day be my prayer to thee
Amen

Ruth Jewell, ©August 27, 2013

Beguine Again and Prayerful Tuesday

Beguine Again

There are four of us and we have decided to begin an online spiritual community. We come from different social backgrounds and different religious traditions, but none of those matters. What does matter is we wish to share our spiritual experiences with others, to offer prayers, participate in studies and to “do good works,” just as women of the late Middle Ages did in their communities. So we have formed a community of Beguines.

Beguines were a community of Christian Lay women in the 13th and 16th centuries. They lived in semi-monastic communities but did not formal religious vows. They joined the communities to devote themselves to a life of prayer and good works without taking vows. They supported themselves with manual labor or teaching children and lived in their own dwellings. Each Beguine was bound to the community by the same goals in life, similar pursuits and a community of prayer, study and worship. These women often had families that they cared for and they lived among those they wanted to help.

The four of us, Michelle, Terri, Denise and Ruth, have decided to begin this experiment to see where it leads us. So you will see postings from each of us from to time and I will be offering a Prayer or Spiritual practice every Tuesday. We would love to have you join us. Wander over to the blog: http://cloakedmonk.com/ and see what we have posted each day. Add your comments and let us know what your needs are.

Below is my first offering for our community:

Prayerful Tuesday
August 13, 2013

Morning Stillness
Morning Stillness

A Moment of Stillness

Stop whatever you are doing for 5 minutes. If you can go outside and find a place to rest in the shade, if you can’t step outside sit next to a window. Sit in a comfortable position with your feet firmly placed on the ground or floor. Now take a deep breath, and slowly let it out. Take another deep breath and slowly let it out. Sit for a few minutes and pay attention to your breathing. When you are ready finish stretch your arms up and reach for the Sky. Breathe deeply again and offer the following prayer as you return to your routine:

Great Spirit I am grateful for this moment
of stillness in my busy day.
May the blessings of this moment
stay with me throughout all of my encounters
as I go about my life this week. Amen

Offered by Ruth Jewell

Family

A Story of Three Women

Three Women drink tea in the morning
Each on their own Terraces
Secure within their walls
They offer the daily morning wave

The Elder, the Middle, the Younger
Careful not to offend
They talk each day
Across a Chasm filled with white still Fog

One day things changed
A breeze stirred the Fog
A path was revealed leading
Into a place of uncertainty

The women looked down, pointing
Each looked at the other and
Moved to the path
Down into the swirling Fog

Lost … calling … WHERE ARE YOU?
Questions of the journey
ARE YOU THERE?
Is it right for us to meet?

The Fog lightens revealing
A space with light and three chairs
The women emerge
The Elder, The Middle, The Younger

Now what do we do?
I don’t know your name
Hannah … Mary … Mary
Smiles, the stories begin

Discovery, sisters all
Lost in time
Grown apart
Yet family still

I know your story!
I know your son!
I know your grandfather!
Family still

High on a hill
Three empty terraces sit
The sun still shines there
The tea still served, waiting

Three Women
The Elder, Hannah
The Middle, Mary
The younger, Mary

Walk hand in hand
Back into the Fog
Back into the uncertainty
Back to ask more questions

©Ruth Jewell, December 3, 2009, written for a class titled from Abraham to Mohammad  

Advent has begun, it is the time of expectations.  This is a time when small children excitedly wait for that magical moment on Christmas morning when they discover the gifts left by Santa Clause.   Yet there is more to Advent than shopping trips to the mall or preparing a big family dinner.  I wrote the above poem at the close of a class that went through the scriptural history of our Judeo, Christian and Islamic traditions and as a result discovered just how much alike we three sibling religious traditions are.  I think it is because we share so much history that we continue to fight over details just as any family of brothers and sisters do.

Did you know that Hannah’s story is much like the story of the birth of Mary as told in the Infancy Gospel of James written in the 2nd century?  Did you also know that The Qur’an also retells the birth of Mary with a story very close to what is said in James’ Infancy Gospel?  Hannah, Mary from the Christian tradition and Mary from the Islamic tradition are sisters, or maybe mothers and daughters, of our shared faith.  Mary is the most honored woman in The Qur’an, even more so than in our own Christian traditions.

We three faiths are related as People of the Book, of the Bible.  Our shared history is more than simply battles fought to get the attention of the Creator, we are family.  The scriptural blood that flows through my spiritual veins and pushed around by my spiritual heart is the same blood and same heart as my Judaic and Islamic brothers and sisters.  Christians are the middle spiritual child and our older spiritual brothers and sisters have much to teach us about God’s commitment to all of creation, just as we have much to teach our younger spiritual brothers and sisters about the love and compassion of God.

My heart aches because each of us spiritual children seems to only want to compete with the others.  So every Advent I offer prayers that we three family members will sit down and share a cup of tea and take the time to offer apologies and forgiveness.  Because we three siblings have much to teach and offer the whole world, not as the only right paths to God but rather as models of cooperation in showing all paths lead to God no matter what path we take.  All paths are sacred.

I have a pot of tea brewing and a plate of shortbread cookies.  So I invite you to a time of tea in the fog uncertainty.  Let’s begin a conversation that could just change the world.

©Ruth Jewell, December 5, 2012