Category Archives: Common Prayer – A Liturgy For Ordinary Radicals

My Long Journey To Your House

Dear Lord, I will remain restless, tense and dissatisfied until I can be totally at peace in your house.  There is no certainty that my life will be any easier in the years, ahead, or that my heart will be any calmer.  But there is the certainty that you are waiting for me and will welcome me home when I have persevered in my long journey to your house.

Henri Nouwen, June 5th

Tyrants and Martyrs

The first form of rulers in the world were the tyrants, the last will be the martyrs.  Between a tyrant and martyr there is of course an enormous difference, although they both have one thing in common: the power to compel.  The tyrant, himself ambitious to dominate, compels the people through his power; the martyr, himself unconditionally obedient to God, compels others through his suffering.  The tyrant dies and his rule is over, the martyr dies and his rule begins.

– From Soren Kierkegaard (June 4th)

The way is humility

From May 30th, from Augustine:

The way to Christ is first through humility, second through humility, third through humility.  If humility does not precede and accompany and follow every good work we do, if it is not before us to focus on, if it is not beside us to lean upon, if it is not behind us to fence us in, pride will wrench from our hand any good deed we do at the very moment we do it.

Early days in Community

Almost everyone finds their early days in a community ideal.  It all seems perfect.  They feel they are surrounded by saints, heroes, or at the least, most exceptional people who are everything they want to be themselves.  And then comes the let-down.  The greater their idealisation of the community at the start, the greater the disenchantment.  If people manage to get through this second period, they come to a third phase – that of realism and true commitment.  They no longer see other members of the community as saints or devils, but as people – each with a mixture of good and bad, darkness and light, each growing and each with their own hope.  The community is neither heaven nor hell, but planted firmly on earth, and they are ready to walk it, and with it.  They accept the community and the other members as they are; they are confident that together they can grow towards something more beautiful.

– Jean Vanier, founder of the L’Arche communities.

Formative Liturgies


On apocalyptic literatures capacity to unmask rival kingdoms: (page 92)

Revelation’s readers in the great cities of the province of Asia were constantly confronted with powerful images of the Roman vision of the world.  Civic and religious architecture, iconography, statues, rituals and festivals, even the visual wonder of the cleverly engineered “miracles” (cf. Rev. 13:13-14) in the temples – all provided powerful visual impressions of Roman imperial power and of the splendour of pagan religion.  In the context, Revelation provides a set of Christian prophetic counter-images which impress on its readers a different vision of the world: how it looks from the heaven to which John is caught up in chapter 4.  The visual power of the book effects a kind of purging of the Christian imagination, refurbishing it with alternative visions of how the world is and will be.  (from Richard Bauckham)

Liturgy Puts A Brake On Narcissism


When a song isn’t working for you, consider praising God, because that probably means it is working for someone else who is very different from you.  Offer your worship as a sacrifice rather than requiring others to sacrifice for your pleasure or contentment.  There is something to the notion of becoming one as God is one it doesn’t mean that we are the same; it just means that we are united by one Spirit.  After all, we can become one only if there are many of us to begin with.


Liturgy puts a brake on narcissism.  Certainly there is something beautiful about contemporary worship songs, where we an take old things and add a little spice to them, like singing hymns to rock tunes or reciting creeds as spoken word rhymes.  But liturgy protects us form simply making worship into a self-pleasing act.  So if a song or prayer doesn’t quite work for you, be thankful that it is probably really resonating with someone who is different from you, and offer a sacrifice of praise.