Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals “makes it easier for us to truly live into what it means to be a priesthood of believers,” says Rachel Twigg-Boyce of HouseBlend ministries. With corporate and individual prayer as a core value of the Winnipeg-based MB ministry for the transformation of community, she jumped at the chance to host a launch party for the book, putting her emerging ministry on the leading edge of a worldwide network of gatherings.
Living in intentional community in a core neighbourhood is also central to HouseBlend’s mission, so it was important to Twigg-Boyce that the event be held in the ministry’s house. When registration on Common Prayer’s website exceeded what the house could comfortably accommodate, Twigg-Boyce decided to hold 2 parties, rather than cut off attendance or move to a less personal venue.
At both events, guests read through selected prayers together, sang, and prayed for personal concerns. Local singer-songwriters Alana Levandoski and Gord Johnson each led an evening’s singing. Nov. 30, HouseBlend welcomed guests to their weekly potluck gathering of “friends” and community. That evening included a Skype conversation with co-author Shane Claiborne, who said a group of Protestants and Catholics united over the book in Ireland that day as well. Dec. 1, more than 25 people attended a casual evening of learning about the book, HouseBlend, and each other.
Ranging from college students to retirees, attendees included regular HouseBlend associates, people interested in HouseBlend, a few neighbours, and some fans of the book with no prior knowledge of the ministry.
Churches, Christian groups, and “new monastic” communities held official launch parties in early December: more than 120 in the U.S., 14 in Canada (from Toronto and Vancouver to remote Lac La Biche, Alta.), and in locations ranging from Malaysia to Malawi, India to Brazil.
Authors Shane Claiborne (founder of the Simple Way, known for The Irresistable Revolution), Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (face of new monasticism and writer), and activist Enuma Okoro collaborated with people from many streams of Christianity to create this resource to foster unity.
The book contains daily prayers, Scripture references, and songs (lyrics at the back); a week’s set of evening prayers; and Occasional prayers and blessings for events ranging from commissioning for ministry, to room dedications in a house, to a violent death in the neighbourhood (a resource Twigg-Boyce “hates to admit” they may need someday).
“It’s a beautiful resource for our community,” says Twigg-Boyce. “In-house” members have already begun using the book for their regular evening prayer time together.
“I really love the section on Occasional Prayers,” says in-house member Elisa LeDesky. “For example, the prayer for the living room centres us on our call to love God, but to also be a community of character for Christ.”
“With so many differences within and between denominations, praying together is a radical act,” says Twigg-Boyce, echoing the authors’ intentions.