Saturday, November 28, 2009

Common devotion and the unity of the church

Tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent and thus the beginning of Year Two in the Daily Office Lectionary. In addition to providing daily nourishment for personal spiritual growth, reading the Scripture passages assigned for each day contributes to progress toward the visible unity of the body of Christ as Christians across the divisions of the church together devote themselves to "the teaching of the apostles" and to "the prayers" (Acts 2:42).

The Anglican Book of Common Prayer and Roman Catholic Daily Missal both include daily office lectionaries along with other resources that guide personal devotions based on the daily office readings. A few years ago my wife gave me a Christmas gift that's become for me an indispensable resource for following the daily office: the four volumes of For All the Saints: A Prayer Book For and By the Church (American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, 1994-1996) include for each day the full text of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel readings, an opening and closing prayer selected from the whole of the Christian tradition in its historical depth and contemporary breadth, and a devotional reading from one among the company of the saints that develops themes from one of the Scripture readings for that day, along with the full text of the Psalter, other patterns and resources for individual and family devotions, and occasional icons connected with seasons and significant feast days of the Christian year.

Electronic resources for following the daily office include The Daily Office maintained online by the Mission of St. Clare (the "text by day" feature downloads well to cell phones) and the Forward Day by Day meditations posted online by Forward Movement Publications.

If you've not previously followed the daily office, try taking it up as an Advent discipline in the days between now and December 25. You might serendipitously encounter Christians in other churches who are doing the same thing, and you just might find yourself having the kinds of conversations with them that make for the increase of the "one hope" (Ephesians 4:4) for the oneness of the church in this most eschatological of seasons of the Christian year.


  1. I enjoy using Benedictine Daily Prayer: A Short Breviary. Maxwell E. Johnson (Professor of Liturgical Studies at the University of Notre Dame) compiled and edited this volume with the monks of St. John's Abbey. Most laypersons (myself included!) will not be able to use this volume rigorously. If approached flexibly, however, the daily offices included in this volume provide an inspired liturgical grounding to each day. Sunday readings include passages from the church mothers and fathers.

  2. and/Or follow the advent blog at - there are still spaces Steven if you want to sign up for a day.