Saturday, December 4, 2010

Common Prayer Release Party

Last night Paul and I had date night at the Common Prayer release party in Philadelphia. An invite had come up in my facebook feed and I jumped on it. We have never been to a book release before. However we have read a lot of Shane Claiborne's work, since he was one of the authors we knew we would likely enjoy it. On Thursday I learned that the party would be held at a homeless shelter of sorts, it ended up being more of a home where residents can get back on their feet. So we arrived and found parking right out front. In we went. I had no idea what to expect.

The night was full of surprises. The theme was party and prayer. We started with some announcements and prayer. Then we ate. I wasn't expecting to eat. A feast of pizza veggies and fruit. It worked very well. We were actually in line for food right behind the author. This was an amazing observation time for me. He was very quiet. You know in the bible how there are prophets who kind of aren't so keen on being prophets but they are doing it because God has led them there? That is the vibe I got. The work that is being done, in my opinion, is nothing short of prophetic and the bringer of the revelation is so very humble. Sounds kind of like Jesus doesn't it? This is a life lived in a very Christlike way. So refreshing in our world of border line Christians, and political Christians.

After we ate, we sang and prayed. There was a drawing of sorts to win the book and Paul won one of the copies! How exciting is that? Then we prayed and sang some more. This was the entire party, prayer. At a book release. Now mind you I have never been to a book release before. I am pretty sure it is usually a little different with at least a little pomp and circumstance. We got a story about how there is this tiny little half dust jacket with the authors' names because it is a book of prayer and some of them are 2000 years old. They fought the publishers to not have their names on the hard cover of the book! How is that for humble? It spoke volumes about the heart that went into the writing.

The time of prayer, well there aren't words to really describe it. In those moments though I wished I belonged in this community. It felt like the most genuine heartfelt prayer, offered up by a group, that I have heard in a long time. The things people prayed for, well they gave me hope for the world. There wasn't much about medical testing or broken bones. It was mostly prayers for the WORLD. God help up us to be united. God let us be bringers of justice. God forgive us our selfishness. It was absolutely beautiful. In the world of prayer this was a masterpiece. I wish I could have gotten to know every person in the room.

The Psalters provided most of the music. It was great. I rather enjoyed the drumming. We did pick up two of their cds for a donation of what we could afford.

That was probably my only disappointment, that I didn't really get to talk to anyone new. One of the highlights, a sign on the book table, $10-15 or what ever you can afford. This was certainly my kind of party.

The sad part is getting home and having so few people with whom to share our experience with. I think I learned something about myself last night, I think I need to be in community with other Christians like this more regularly. Yes I go to church where I have a great community but it isn't like this. I am not sure I am ready to sign up to live in a new monasticism community, especially with a baby. I am however ready to make some changes in my life so that God becomes the focus again. I have strayed. Paul and I have decided to go a little crazy Christian and use this book (it is a book of prayers and liturgy) as a family study everyday.

My last thought I think the reason I really enjoyed this particular set of people... they are all out there in the world doing God's work. Their contribution to God, the world and Theology doesn't stop at debating Theology. While they have a good grasp on theology, they are living it, not just talking about it. For me that has been the failing of many of the books I read and following this movement of the emerging church. Much like my feelings about the Presbyterian church... there seems to be a whole lot of talk and very little action. Here there is action to balance out the theology and the talking. On first glance I would venture to say there might just be more praying too.

This is what Advent should feel like. I felt Jesus in that room. I was amazed by my savior's love. I was swept away in a sea of that love, I teared up. I wanted to scream yes God I know you love me. Thank you God for loving me. This is a highly abnormal feeling for me. It was beautiful.

We left inspired and not feeling as alone. Now we have to move forward and integrate it into our lives. For me personally as a church leader I feel called to integrate it into the church as well.

God guide me. I am grateful for these experiences that stretch my faith and call.

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