We’ve begun a simple practice at Collins Street. Shamelessly poached from elsewhere, it’s called This Time Tomorrow. Just prior to our prayers of intercession, I invite two or three people to tell us in 100 words or less what they’ll be doing ‘this time tomorrow’ and how we can pray for them. It could be anything from a work meeting or project, coffee with a friend, preparation for an exam, to an appointment, errand or housework. In the process, we get just a glimpse into the everyday world of those who gather for worship.
My intention in this is to help people make clearer connections between our Sunday prayers and rituals and the daily routines and responsibilities of Monday to Friday. It’s not a world-changer and I’m sure there are much better ways to do it, but this simple practice at least goes part way to nurturing of a more integrated faith.
In her wonderful book, Earth Crammed with Heaven: A Spirituality of Everyday Life, the Catholic scholar Elizabeth Dreyer calls the Church—and especially its leadership—to provide means of a more connected spirituality for those whose majority-life is lived beyond the church walls.
“For everyone, the spiritual life involves the connections we make between the divine and the human. But the lives of the clergy, vowed religious, and professional ministers are steeped in explicit, public religious symbols and activity … However, most members of the church spend their days in a world that is not at all explicitly religious. Therefore it becomes imperative that this wider lay community be empowered to see God on its daily rounds–wherever that may be. We need to build up our confidence in our ability to open ourselves to the grace through which we find God in all the nooks and crannies, in all the agony and stress and frustration of life, and not just in overtly religious experiences.”
Throughout her book, Dreyer builds on the assumption that our daily existence, no matter how ‘secular’ or ‘ordinary’ it might be, is ‘the locus and seedbed for the on-going revelation of God’ in our lives. If that’s the case, perhaps our Sunday gathering is the place where we hone the skills for the real business of listening for God’s presence elsewhere.