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Week 2. Spiritual Practice Material and Tradition Elements for this Block.
Liturgical prayer Liturgy as the work of the people


Liturgy is soul food. It nourishes our souls just as breakfast strengthens our bodies. Its sort of like family dinner. Hopefully you get some nutritious food, but more than nutrition, family dinner is about family, love, community. Liturgy is kind of like family dinner with God. Liturgical theologian Aidan Kavanaugh says it well: The liturgy, like the feast, exists not to educate but to seduce people into participating in common activity of the highest order, where one is freed to learn things which cannot be taught. From Common Prayer: Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals Objectives.
To introduce volunteers to the concept of liturgy To introduce the concept of prayer and the wide ways of praying within the Christian tradition.

Background for Facilitator.

A simple definition of liturgy is the order and flow of services of the worship of God. In other words, if you come from a religious tradition that uses bulletins or orders of worship, the liturgy of the service is what is printed in the bulletin. In certain traditions, liturgy is a dirty word. It is something other people do and it is mentioned with a scowl. But regardless of what tradition someone comes from, every religious community utilizes liturgy in some way. Whether a church or style or worship is considered liturgical or non-liturgical, the order, flow, and reasoning behind what comes before or after another element in the service makes up its liturgy. So regardless of whether an order of worship contains a sung Alleluia or an altar call, both elements are part of liturgy. Throughout the month of September, we are focusing on labor, or work, and liturgy is appropriate in this block because it means, literally, the work of the people. Christians, as well as other religious people, try to structure their day around the concept of prayer with persons invited to participate in morning, noonday and evening prayer. Prayer, at its simplest, can be understood as a way to connect with God. Christians believe that God desires to be in relationship with us and we develop this relationship by finding ways to speak and listen to God. There are countless ways to pray. Some people find it helpful to pray in very structured ways, with a script containing times for Holy Scripture, silence and intercessions. Other persons pray spontaneously, simply sitting quietly and speaking to God and listening for God to speak back. Prayer not only involves our words, but we are also invited to find ways to pray with our entire body. Liturgy often has many different elements involved in one moment of worship or praise.

For this session, please plan to spend 60-70 minutes together. Materials You Will Need.
Copies of the Lords Prayer a brief liturgy from either Common Prayer (online at or Bread for the Day (ELCA resource from Augsburg Fortress) or the Book of Common Prayer (online at Sample bulletins from different churches and traditions (optional)

Pillar Signature: Journaling. 5-10 min.

Each Spiritual Practice block will include a time for journaling. Some of these practices lend themselves naturally to journaling, and others are more active or focused on other sorts of activities. For each block of spiritual practice, invite volunteers to bring their journals and spend some time in the beginning of the session free-writing about how God has been at work in their lives recently, paying attention to where theyve seen God in their work, in their community life, in the world around them. For this month, start out with a free-write time for people to journal their initial thoughts about what liturgy or prayer might be.

Presentation of the Material. 10 min.

The facilitator is invited to begin this lesson plan in an open and conversational manner. One way this can be done is by asking the volunteers to describe the normal pattern of worship in the community of faith they would describe as home. If they are involved with a faith community during their year of service, a second question might be to contrast these two places of worship. Ask the group how the worship service flows from one element to another and whether there is a printed bulletin. (You might ask them to bring a bulletin from a worship service if they are actively participating in one.) Ask them to name and identify the core elements of the worship service (examples of this could include Scripture, Prayer, Confession and Pardon, Eucharist/Holy Communion, Music, etc.) You will then want to define liturgy for them and connect for them that all the things they have just named constitute liturgy and remind them that whether the service is considered high church or low church, it contains liturgy. You are invited to teach them that liturgy, in the Christian sense, is understood as the work of the people.

Gut Response. 2-5 min.

Following up on this connection, ask them to think about and discuss, maybe in groups of two or three depending on group dynamics, how worship and work are connected? What does it mean if the people are expected to work in some way in the worship of God? How does this work connect with the work that you are doing at your service sites or how does the work of worship compare or inform you see persons within your community doing to make a living?

Engagement of the Material: Group Activity. 20 min.

As you move into the second half of your session, you might invite people to take a brief break, and then ask them, if they are comfortable, to discuss their experience of prayer. Ask them: How have you tried to pray? (Share a little bit of this experience.) Do you pray with Holy Scripture or other sacred texts?

Have you ever used resources as a guide, such as a structure for morning prayer or evening prayer? (Share these resources with the group, if you can name them.) What works well for you and what does not? What has worked in the past and doesnt any longer (and why, do you think)?

After this discussion, pick a form of prayer from one of your available resources, and ask the group to participate in prayer with the instructions provided in one of these resources. (If you want an older resource use the Book of Common Prayer. If a newer resource is your thing, use Common Prayer, a book produced by Shane Claiborne, Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove and Enuma Okoro, see Have copies of the prayer available, send them off in groups of three or four, and invite them to pray as instructed by the resource. This should take at least 10-15 minutes.

Group Reflection. 10-15 min.

When they are finished with the practice of prayer, find some way for them to process their reaction. Invite them to share in some way, whether out loud of on a piece of paper, what they liked about it, what they didnt. Did it feel comfortable or uncomfortable, why? When the group reassembles, ask them how this experience compares with their previous experiences of prayer. Was this how they were always taught to pray or was this a different experience of prayer? After they have finished invite them to consider how the practice of prayer connects with the work they are doing during the year. Ask them how they connect prayer and action and how they have or havent been able to do this in their life. These could be great questions for an extended journaling activity.

The Tradition. 5 min.

From the beginning, the church has been interested in the ordering of things, particularly the ordering of time. The liturgical calendar - which begins with Advent in December, continues through Lent, Easter and Pentecost, and ends with what is called ordinary time is a way of ordering the year around the life of Christ. As your volunteers journey through a year unlike others they have had, we invite you to help them think about how a different ordering of time can be a helpful resource. (Examples of Christian liturgical calendars can be found here and If the secular calendar and observance of holidays and seasons is like a blinking ferris wheel of the same candy and presents year after year, the liturgical calendar, and liturgical time in contrast, is like a spiral down through history that connects us with the mystery of God present among us in a special way. Liturgical time tells us our story, tells us who we are. It tells us that time passes with meaning and purpose, with a plan.

Synthesis. 5 min.
Invite participants to try this practice on for a week (or longer), setting aside time in the evening of each day to go through some form of liturgical prayer. The Common Prayer resources are easily accessible online for morning, midday and evening prayers. If the participants live in community, invite them to share the prayers, perhaps after dinner each night. Ask the group to

plan, now, how theyll continue to engage this practice together in the coming week.

After giving them time to process, you will want to close this session with a prayer. You might offer a structured prayer in which you thank God for your group and then pray for this community of faith, the people they are encountering in their community, and for the world around them.

** additional resource materials/web links** Common Prayer online: Wikipedia Liturgy Entry: The Church Year: The Daily Office Blog: