Day by Day – Our Living Room Liturgy

As we are all forced to slow down a little due this month. I’m pulling out some posts that have languished in my drafts folder. I actually started this post in 2014, and updated it in 2018, now finally posting. Thanks for reading! 

Over the last decade, the Morning Basket, or the Morning Circle, or some variation has grown in popularity and become a solid trend in homeschool circles.  It works really well for a mom with students of various ages.  Everyone can gather for Bible, hymns and folk songs, nature lore, a history read aloud, perhaps a foreign language poem or basic math drill; whatever can be covered with all of her students. (The books are charmingly stored in a basket.) It’s efficient, and a nice way to start the day.

Intrigued by the concept, I pulled together what I called our Living Room Liturgy.  I school one student, so my goal wasn’t so much to group school subjects as to begin to break down the secular / sacred divide of school, and to focus on starting our day with the Lord in a warm, cozy way.  On most school mornings, after breakfast, we settled in the living room, with a reading from the Bible and our Scripture memorization passage. Then we read selections from The American Patriot’s Almanac, a poem from Christian Poetry, sang a hymn, and a nature entry Circle of Seasons: The Journal of a Naturalist’s Year.  We closed with a classic prayer from Prayers for Today. 

We loved this morning time together and it continued until it didn’t. When high school approached, our relaxed ritual fell to the demands of the day.  Upper levels of math and science, along with an increasingly demanding piano practice schedule and our extensive homeschool curriculum reading list required an earlier start. With a sigh, I distributed the Bible, poetry, history and nature reads during the week, and comforted myself by imagining that we would sing hymns and folk songs in the car on the way to and from our co-ops. Sometimes we did.  Most of the time we didn’t. We all noticed that without our Living Room Liturgy, something was missing from our morning.

Around this time we began visiting an Anglican church nearby. We loved the Anglican worship liturgy, the commitment to readings from Old Testament, Psalms and the New Testament, the Prayers of the People, the Lord’s Prayer, the Nicene Creed, weekly Communion and the Church calendar.

We were also attracted to another powerful element of Anglicanism, the practice of Daily Office and Morning Prayer using Thomas Cranmer’s Scripture infused Book of Common Prayer.  Here I found a direct path back to the Living Room Liturgy morning gathering that we missed. However, rather than an hour of reading portions from a varied collection of books, we committed to following this centuries-old Biblically-driven rhythm of Confession, Psalms, Scripture, Canticles, Creed, Lord’s Prayer, Intercessions and beautifully written Collects.

I will write more about our road to Anglicanism sometime, but for now, I will say that Anglican Evangelical John Stott was and is a huge influence.  Before Anglicanism was ever on my radar, during our church nomad years, somehow, the Lord directed me to John Stott. His sermons from All Souls Church, Langham Place, are available online, and are a veritable treasure trove of amazingly relevant Scriptural preaching, despite the fact that many of them were recorded decades ago. Scripture is like that after all.  🙂

…the Christian life is lived a day at a time.
John Stott

A particular favorite is the series Day by Day , in which John Stott tackles the ebb and flow of Christian life, always circling back to the truth that “the Christian life is lived a day at a time” and that “Christians need to learn to live today, in remembrance of yesterday, and in anticipation of tomorrow.” In essence, every aspect of the Christian faith – grace, worship, renewal, repentance, responsibility and witness – each expression, is best handled day by day.  As Stott says, “The first and great evidence of our walking by the Spirit or being filled with the Spirit is not some private mystical experience of our own, but our practical relationships of love with other people.” Learning to commit each day to the Lord, one day at a time, and growing in love and truth as we relate with others, is what the Daily Office enables Christians to do. As we strive to steep our days in prayer, we are getting a little better, day by day, at praying unceasingly, abiding in Him, following His commandments, and trusting His purposes for us.

In the dog days of August, I was planning my daughter’s senior year, reflecting on how the weeks had become like days, speeding by, each quicker than the one before.  As I worked on The Daughter’s schedule for her senior year, I briefly pondered the Daily Office and Morning Prayer time that I still call our Living Room Liturgy. Space is tight on the schedule again this year. Sigh.  We often find that our prayer list causes us to spill over our allotted thirty minutes. So like every year, I switch things around some.

I had hoped to add in hymns last year.  Instead we learned to chant the morning canticles (Psalm 95 Venite and Psalm 100 Jubilate). I noticed that while intentional Scripture memorization unintentionally took a backseat last year, we all unintentionally memorized the canticle psalms. 🙂 Perhaps we will never get everything done, but, our Living Room Liturgy is the big rock in the schedule, which leads us to the Rock that is higher than us.  So will we ever sing praises to His name, as we seek His presence day after day.

So will I ever sing praises to Your name for ever, as I perform my vows day after day.  Psalm 61:8 ESV

If you’re interested in the books I mentioned in the second paragraph here are brief descriptions:

A Treasury of Christian Poetry  ~ Never have I been more thrilled with a traded book from the used book store. Including poetry of all periods and types loosely categorized in one of five topics, this anthology of the great classics of Christian poetry introduced me to several poets whose work I had never read, and now love.

The American Patriot’s Almanac ~ This book was great for keeping our American history fresh.  We studied American History in fourth grade, the Eastern Hemisphere in fifth grade, and Ancient and Classical Greek and Roman Civilization in sixth grade, Medieval and Renaissance history in seventh grade, and Renaissance and Reformation in eighth grade.  During that time having a daily reading about an interesting event from American History was helpful.

Circle of Seasons ~This book inspired us to make our own Circle of Seasons journal.  Edwin Way Teale’s entries are usually less than a page, although some are longer, and are filled with well written observations of everyday events in nature and the changes brought by the seasons to his gardens. The genre of Nature writing is one more reason to thank God for Charlotte Mason. 🙂

Prayers for Today ~ A wealth of evocatively written prayers from ancient to modern, the book has 260 Days which are are organized in a cycle of Prayers of Thanksgiving, Prayers for Confession, Prayers of Affirmation, Prayers of Petition, Prayers for Renewal, Prayers for Praise/Adoration, Prayers for Christlike Character,  Prayers for Wisdom/Guidance, Prayers of Intercession, and Prayers of Surrender. Each day has Scripture excerpts, sometimes a verse of a hymn or poem or a prayer written by a Christian of antiquity, and a daily prayer that applies the topic.

Book of Common Prayer- When we committed to using the Daily Office and Morning Prayer for our Living Room Liturgy, I went ahead and bought a Book of Common Prayer.  Which one?  Yes, there are lots of versions and each has their fervent followers. We use the schedule of readings from the 1979 BCP because many churches still use that. If you’re not familiar with the Book of Common Prayer, The Rookie Anglican blog has many helpful articles including this one, The Daily Office Lectionary: A Rookie Guide.  Another tool we like is the website Mission St. Clare.

 

 

 

 

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