How to Use the Daily Office
As I read through the Celtic Daily Prayer for the Northumbria Community, I am struck by the parallels with the development of the i58 group. The concept that impacted me the most was simply this: Dispersed Community.
That is a lovely description of i58. The parallels between Northumbria and i58 are remarkable.
The two key scripture passages that impacted their leadership are the two key scripture passages that have impacted my leadership. Below, I have listed some of the important passages for further reflection:
With such Celtic heroic history seemingly etched into every stone and rising out of the very ground itself, it is easy to understand how the Northumbria Community feels irresistibly drawn to the powerful words of Jeremiah 6:16: “Stand at the crossroads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths where the good way lies; walk in it, and find the rest of your souls.” Here, at this prayer hole, I too feel a tugging, a longing, for the ancient paths.
At the same time, John Skinner and his wife Linda, who were both crucial to the foundation of the Community, were struck by the passage in Isaiah 58:11-12, which speaks of restoring foundations from times long past; of springs whose waters never fail; and of building out of brokenness.
Years of struggle followed as the families and individuals journeying together, locally, struggled to discover what is meant to live as contemplatives with growing children, financial pressures and a constant stream of visitors.
The Nether Springs serves as one expression of the “monastic heart” of the Community’s ethos as well as being an administrative centre for much of the mission and work of the wider community.
At the heart of them lies the Daily Office – the prayers to be used, either individually or communally, each day in the morning, at midday and in the evening. It was discovered very early that one of the precious gifts handed down to us through the monastic tradition is the persistent rhythm of the daily offices – repeating words of timeless, spiritual truth, drawn largely from the Psalms, until they grow in to the very core of our being, helping to define who we are and to whom we belong.
As we researched and studied these saints (and the Desert Fathers, who were their spiritual predecessors) we found that many of the lessons they taught gave us hope and coherence on our own journey: that people matter more than things, and relationships more than reputation, that prayer and action and contemplation and involvement, all belong together.
We were being slowly drawn into a monastic way, but this was a different monasticism which only has in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount. It is high time people banded together to do this.
This involves availability to God and to others – expressed in a commitment to being alone with God in the cell of our own heart and to being available for hospitality, intercession and mission.
Intentional vulnerability is expressed through being teachable in the discipline of prayer, saturation in the Scriptures and being accountable to one another, often through soul friendships.