My rating: 3 of 5 stars
This is an exciting book! I came to it with hardly any background knowledge on who the New Monastics are, and I think that served me well. I see this text as a healthy injection of ancient wisdom into the postmodern church. This book breathes a freshness and a vitality that are missing from the more traditional churches that have never abandoned the historic liturgies. In many ways, familiarity breeds contempt. I won’t accuse any churches of having contempt for their historic liturgies, but there definitely seem to be churches that take their liturgies for granted. The New Monastics have stumbled into these ancient practices, somewhat like the children in “The Secret Garden,” and are helping to shake up the Church, forcing us to re-examine the central things. What does it mean to worship? What does it mean to live in community? How does God want us to use our resources? Some of the answers given by the New Monastics may sound a little too “politically correct” for some people, but I believe they are basically on the right track. God has a way of messing with our traditions, and our assumptions.
I encourage anyone unfamiliar with “liturgy” to pick up this book and give it the benefit of the doubt. This book is meant to be used in community, in prayer with other people. Use it to give some form and purpose to your small-group worship time. Best of all, the book is filled with Scripture, rather than someone’s pale imitation of Scripture. The lectionary is also helpful, as a guide to reading the Bible together in community. I appreciated the quotes from saints and heroes of the faith. They are truly inspiring. Walking in the footsteps of Christ can be lonely, difficult work, and this book is encouragement for the journey.
(Also check out their website for daily prayer: http://commonprayer.net/)