Book Review: IN DUE SEASON

Sometimes an occasion demands a prayer. Rather than stuff that vague feeling of “I want to honor this time/season/mood, but don’t have time to concoct a formal observance,” turn to IN DUE SEASON, by Ken Phillips (Twenty-third Publications, 2014.)

Full disclosure: Ken has been liturgical director and exuberant musician at Regis University, Denver for many years. When I first heard his stunning Advent celebrations, or prose poems created for other events, I bugged him to seek a wider audience. Now that he has finally published his accumulated work, I’m delighted for him—and mightily impressed.

Volume 1 covers autumn, Advent, Christmas and feasts up to Mardi Gras. Volume 2 will offer prayers for spring, Lent, Easter and summer. While some of us may have grown overly familiar or numbly habituated to the prayers we hear in church, Ken nudges us out of anesthesia with lyrical cadences, subtle wit, and bold re-imaginings. For instance, on the Feast of the Holy Family, he names that sense of inferiority we all feel in the face of such impossible goodness:

Their famous meekness

and piety and love

of one another

make my situation look really

lame and a lot less than Holy.

Decorating the Christmas tree, which he finds a symbol for transformation, he compares the task to God’s creativity:

as we,

with fragile glass

and shining tinsel

do what You can do

with finer stuff

in the human heart.

Enough of excerpts, designed to enchant and intrigue. The book can be used for groups or individuals and is especially suited for ecumenical services. It includes music suggestions, set up directions and reflection questions. Designed for lay leadership, it makes ritual graceful and easy—no more stilted, awkward attempts. Relax into the guidance of a seasoned pro.

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