Liturgy & Love

As part of our Breathing In & Breathing Out series, our friend Suzi shares her practices of morning prayer and caring for the young people she works with.

Thursday mornings are a touchstone for me. I get up when my alarm goes off at 6.25, put the kettle on and grab two copies of Celtic Daily Prayer and two Bibles. My door buzzer goes around 6.45 and my friend Fiona arrives, having dropped her kids at swim team training and been for a run. (I know my limits!) We’ve got into a rhythm, where every Thursday we spend some time together with the liturgy of Morning Prayer. It’s a time when we touch base, read through familiar words and phrases, spend time with God and each other, and, for me, it’s a key element in how I embrace a contemplative spirituality.

I do other things too, but none of them have stuck quite as well as communal morning prayer. This practice, for me, is one that I have intentionally cultivated in a couple of seasons. The first time I encountered the joy of regularly praying a liturgy was when I lived in a house with a bunch of other Christians in New Jersey. We got up and prayed together (along with some neighbours) at 6.45 three mornings a week. It was never easy, but it was a joy. The joy of it meant that even when the venue changed, the rhythm remained.

I had found a place where I heard Jesus’ love and acceptance of me, Jesus forbearance and deliverance on a regular basis. I was wrapped up in that cloak of ‘Christ as a light, Christ as a shield’ and I was bringing to the forefront of my mind that the best thing to seek on a daily basis is Christ. When I left the states in 2014, I left behind that community, and I was unmoored from those rhythms. They didn’t leave me though, and one of the first things I did once I had a flat to call my own was buy a couple of copies of the prayer book we had used. It was a while longer before Fiona and I started our weekly prayer time, and a big part of that was my fear of inviting others into a practice that had been so meaningful for me – I wasn’t sure how I would be received.

It’s been such a delight to come back to this practice, which allows me to be rooted and grounded in who God is, and who I am before God. It’s been great for opening my eyes to see God in the world, and to see more of the ways that God’s justice is needed in order for breakthrough. I work mostly out of a school context, and so this is one way among others that I can have my eyes opened to the ways that God wants to break in to the lives of the kids I meet.

Hope Breathes is about action from contemplation, and I think for me, the actions that I am called to are around loving the young people I encounter. It’s about being open to the nudging of the spirit when a young person needs to hear a hard truth, or needs to be invited to explore the idea of God, or love. Currently, I am employed by local churches to do community and school based youth work – so I have some unique opportunities to speak truth into the lives of the kids I work with. I can move into the world with love when I know that I am rooted and centred in love. And that leads to some great conversations, occasionally into invitations to explore faith further, but always, always into making this small corner of the world a more loved and loving place to be.

The Canticle and Blessing from Morning Prayer (from Celtic Daily Prayer. Follow along on their website)

Canticle

Christ, as a light
illumine and guide me.
Christ, as a shield
overshadow me.
Christ under me;
Christ over me;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Be in the heart of each to whom I speak;
in the mouth of each who speaks unto me.
This day be within and without me,
lowly and meek, yet all-powerful.
Christ as a light;
Christ as a shield;
Christ beside me
on my left and my right.

Blessing

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever He may send you.
May He guide you through the wilderness,
protect you through the storm.
May He bring you home rejoicing
at the wonders He has shown you.
May He bring you home rejoicing
once again into our doors.

Here are a few of my favourite daily prayer books:
Celtic Daily Prayer: There are a couple of versions, most recently they’ve produced Book One (Northumbria Community Website, or from hive.com) and Book Two (at Amazon). Personally, we use the green book (here) which has the basics and I also have the grey book (here) which goes into more saints days and different occasional liturgies.
Common Prayer – a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals: This is a great resource if you’d like more of a social justice bent to your prayers. (amazon or hive)
Every Moment Holy: Fiona found this, it’s a lovely way to remember God in every moment of your day. (Currently being re-printed; pre-order, or download a selection of the liturgies, here, but be aware that it ships from the USA, so postage is not insignificant!)

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