For Lent in 2012, The Upper Room will orient its life around the themes of Covenant, Community, and the Cross. In the Old Testament, God shows us his commitment to live in relationship with his creation by making covenants, all of which are brought to fulfillment in the New Covenant established through the cross of Jesus Christ. We are the covenant community of the Church, created to live in fellowship with God and one another through the grace of Christ, but we can’t live faithfully in covenant with one another unless we’re each willing to take up our cross.
Throughout the history of the Church, religious communities have expressed their common commitments to one another and to God through following common rules of daily prayer. Members of such communities pray the same prayers at the same times of day, essentially praying together even if they’re not physically in the same place at the same time. This practice is called the “daily office”. During Lent, we want to encourage members of Upper Room to consider praying the daily office. Three resources which members of Upper Room have already found helpful for doing so are listed here:
1) Celtic Daily Prayer from the Northumbria Community is the daily office used by participants in the World Christian Discipleship Program. It includes simple liturgies for morning, midday, and evening prayer.
2) The Divine Hours is a resource compiled by author Phyllis Tickle based upon the Anglican Book of Common Prayer and including prayers from a variety of other Christian traditions. The online version is available for free at the Ann Arbor Vineyard Church website, and is automatically updated with different liturgies for morning, midday, vespers, and compline (before bed) prayers each day.
3) Common Prayer is a resource compiled by Shane Claiborne and other leaders in the New Monasticism movement. Liturgies are available for morning, midday, and evening prayer, each incorporating resources from various Christian traditions.
4) Ancient Faith Radio offers mp3 recordings of the daily prayers from the Eastern Orthodox tradition. The mp3s can be downloaded and listened to on your phone, computer, or mp3 player wherever you are. There are eight offices available for the day. The “First Hour” is 6am, so the Third Hour is 9am, and so on. The Matins recording makes a great tone for an alarm to wake up with!
5) The Presbyterian Church (USA) publishes the daily lectionary, a set of different scripture readings for each day of the year, on its website. Visit this page and click on “Read today’s daily lectionary reading”. (For a few thoughts on the benefits of reading the lectionary, see this post on Chris’s blog.)
May God use these prayers to lead us into faithful life together as a covenant community under the cross!