Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Instructed Eucharist

Editors Note: You are welcome to use this script for an instructed Eucharist, but we would appreciate it if you would sign in the comments section (at the bottom of this posting, just click) telling us how you used it, where you are from, and how it worked for you. Any suggested modifications would be most appreciated.

This script for an instructed Eucharist was written by the people, clergy and staff of All Souls Episcopal Parish, Berkeley, Calif., and the Rev. Canon Grant S. Carey, Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, Calif. You are free to use this script, but please give proper credit when using. AND please sign at the bottom of this posting to let us know you used it.

Blessings!

NARRATOR I: Tonight we are doing something out of the ordinary. Tonight in our worship service, which is called “the liturgy,” we are going to pause and explain what we are doing and why we do it the way we do it. The word “liturgy” means “the work of the people,” so please consider this teaching exercise as the work we will all be doing together. We are going to give you a tour of the liturgy, pausing at key moments to explain. Consider this the Interstate tour of our liturgy. We will be going fast, and we will be getting off at several off-ramps – not all of them – but enough of them to look around a bit before we get back on the highway. I will remain to answer any questions.

So settle back, and enjoy the ride.

MUSICIAN: The first act of our worship is the gathering of the people at prayer. In fact, the word “church” means “the gathering.” And we gather in a special way, through music. The procession also reminds us that the people of God, through time and history, are moving toward God's Kingdom – following the Cross of Christ – and bringing the Light of the Gospel into all the world.

NARRATOR II: We bring to our worship our whole being. We pray not just with words, but with our every sense. We pray silently and we pray out loud, and we pray through music. We pray with our bodies through our stances of sitting, standing and kneeling. We pray by sight through the visual symbols that surround us. And we pray even with our sense of taste and smell through the bread and wine we will soon share.

So we begin by standing as a sign of respect, and standing is the best way to sing. And so let us gather as we sing…

OPENING HYMN

NARRATOR I: For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have come together Sunday after Sunday, and often during the week. They have come to offer themselves to God and to communicate with God in a very special way. We call this our “Holy Eucharist,” and Eucharist is a Greek word for “Thanksgiving.” Eucharist is only one name for this service.
In the Greek Church it is called the Divine Liturgy which refers to God's people worshipping together. Sometimes it is called the Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper, and sometimes the Mass. But whatever name we call it, our Sunday Eucharist is the centerpiece of our worship and life together as a faith community.

Here in the Episcopal Church, our liturgy comes from the Book of Common Prayer. The first English prayer book was written in 1549 by Thomas Cranmer, the archbishop of Canterbury. The prayer book has undergone numerous revisions. The first American Book of Common Prayer was written in the 19th century, and the last full revision was in 1979, and our liturgy today is based on that book.

NARRATOR II: There are two halves to the Eucharist which we should keep in mind as we experience our worship together. The first is “the Liturgy of the Word,” sometimes called the Ante-Communion (“ante” means “before”). The “Liturgy of the Word” includes several parts: (1) the opening prayers, which come from the Book of Common Prayer, (2) lessons from the Old and New Testaments appointed for the day, (3) the sermon, (4) the Church's statement of faith, the Nicene Creed, and (5) the intercessions or the prayers of the people.

The second half of the liturgy is called the “Great Thanksgiving,” during which the fruits of our labor, and the bread and wine are offered, consecrated or set apart, and then received by God's people with thanksgiving. It is the heart and culmination of our worship. We will talk more about that a little later. For now, we proceed into the Liturgy of the Word:

OPENING COLLECTS & GLORIA & COLLECT OF THE DAY

ALTAR GUILD DIRECTOR: The clergy, acolytes and choir members wear vestments. In the Episcopal Church, there are no such things as “robes.” Rather, all of the vestments have names. Vestments remind us that the Church belongs to no particular time or place because it is both universal (in all places) and historic, (belonging to no specific time). It also keeps us from paying undue attention to what people are wearing, whether their clothing is new or old, the latest style or out of date.

You will also notice that today we are using the color red. We have colors that mark each church season. Holy Week is marked by red, the color used for martyrs and Pentecost, the time of the Holy Spirit. We will soon be in Easter, marked by the color white. Again, think of this as praying with all of our senses, including with our eyes.

The Altar guild also prepares all of the chalices, containing the wine of Communion, and the plates – called “patens” – and other utensils that will be used in our liturgy. The Altar Guild does a myriad of other tasks, including preparing the bread and wine for our use. And, by the way, we can always use new members of the Altar Guild, both women and men.

NARRATOR II: Next we hear lessons from the Bible, but I’d like you to transport yourself back in time for a moment. Before the time of Jesus, before the time of Moses, before the Bible, before written word, the people of God sat around the campfire, shared a meal, and they told The Story – they told The Story of how God, or “the Great Power,” saved their ancestors and brought them out of crisis and calamity and saved them, brining them into new life. What we do next is an echo of that very ancient human endeavor – we are sitting around the campfire – the candlesticks – and we are about to share a meal, our Eucharist, and hear the ancient story of our ancestors and how God saved them. Those stories were recorded by the Jewish people in what we now call the Bible, or Holy Scriptures. The word “Bible” comes from the middle English word that means “book.”

LECTOR: We will hear four passages from the Bible. The passages are assigned for each Sunday in a three-year rotating cycle called the “Revised Common Lectionary.” We hear the same biblical passages that are read this morning in other Episcopal churches, and in Lutheran, Roman Catholic and other churches as well. Hearing the same passages is part of our connection, or communion, with those other people in other places. We are currently in the second year of the cycle – “Year B.” Each year begins on the first Sunday of Advent, which is usually around the first of December.

First we will hear a reading from the Hebrew Scriptures, which Christians call the “Old Testament.” We will also hear a psalm, or a canticle which is usually an adaptation of an Old Testament song of praise. We then hear from one of the New Testament letters. The New Testament was written in Greek, which was the common language of the Roman Empire at the time it was written.

At the end of each lesson, the reader will declare: “The Word of the Lord,” By saying “word” we do not mean that God wrote the words, but that these sacred texts reflect the mind of God, or in Greek, “Logos.” Another common ending for the lesson is “Hear what the Spirit is saying to God’s people” – that is a biblical phrase taken from the Revelation of John, the last book in the Bible. Our reply is “Thanks be to God.” And the fourth lesson is from the gospel.

THE LESSONS

DEACON: The gospel is a Greek word meaning “good news” and that is the title given to the first four books of the New Testament – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, the biographies of the life of Jesus. The Gospel lesson is always read by a member of the clergy, and if possible, it is read by a deacon, as a sign of respect for the Gospel. On special occasions, the Gospel may be sung or chanted.

On most Sundays, there is a Gospel procession into the center of the congregation, signifying that the Gospel is at the center of our life as a faith community. The Gospel Procession is led by a cross and candles. Wherever we are seated in the church, it is appropriate for us to stand up and turn to face the Gospel book and reader as a sign of respect.

GOSPEL PROCESSION

DEACON: Our gospel procession echoes the Jewish practice of carrying the Torah – the scrolls containing the Law – into the congregation.

The Gospel Procession does one more thing – it reminds us that we are to carry the Good News of Jesus Christ into all the world.

Making the Sign of the Cross with your thumb on the forehead, mouth and chest at this time asks God's blessing “in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart.” This way of making the sign of the cross is one of the earliest known symbols of the Church, dating from the Second century.

THE GOSPEL READING

SERMON

NICENE CREED

DEACON: Following the sermon, we take a few moments of silence to let the words dwell with us. Then we recite together the Nicene Creed, which was written in the fourth century to state the Church's Trinitarian belief in God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It was written as a loyalty oath for bishops, but has since evolved into a central part of our worship.

The Creed expresses the faith of the whole Church in all times and places. Although the meaning of some of the phrases are not clear, think of the Creed as a prayer that you share with everyone today who is reciting this creed in their church. And think of it as a prayer you share with everyone who has gone before us who will recited this, and everyone who will come after us. The Creed is part of our communion with all Christians in all times and places.

Some people make the sign of the cross at the end of the creed to remind us that at our baptism we were signed with the sign of the cross and made Christ's own forever. Such acts of reverence are ways in which we show outwardly what we believe inwardly.

RECITE THE NICENE CREED

INTERCESSOR: We now turn our attention to Christ's Church and the world. Together, we pray for the Church, for ourselves, and for the departed. The whole church, past and present, is united together in prayer. The names of persons who are in need of our prayers are added at this point, and there is usually an opportunity for us to speak out loud the names of people for whom we especially want to pray. These prayers are called “Prayers of the People” because they represent our deepest longings as God’s people at prayer.

THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

DEACON: Now we ask God's forgiveness for the wrongs we have done collectively as the people of God. Confession is an important part of prayer whether we do it privately or in church with others. After the confession is announced, there is a time of silence for private, silent individual confession. Then we recite together the words of confession. Please notice that when we say these words out loud that we are confessing our sins as a the gathering of God’s people and not as individuals; it is another way we pray together as the people of God.

After we have made our confession, the Priest says the words of ABSOLUTION, or forgiveness, assuring us that God has forgiven all of us.

CONFESSION AND ABSOLUTION

NARRATOR II: The first part of the service is now completed. We greet one another joyfully in the spirit of friendship and reconciliation and in the love of God, exchanging the PEACE with one another. It is way for us to heal from our grudges and wounds before coming to the table of Communion.

The “passing of the peace” is a very ancient way for people to greet one another. Jesus taught us that we should love one another as sisters and brothers. The apostle Paul taught that we should forgive one another as God forgives us before we come to the table to share in the bread of Communion.

When the celebrant says: “The Peace of God be always with you,” everyone responds: “And also with you.”

Then we share God's peace with one another.

THE PEACE

II. THE HOLY COMMUNION

NARRATOR I: We now begin the second part of the Eucharist. There are four parts to this part of the service. The first is our offering of money, food for the poor, and the bread and wine we will use at Communion. The second part of the Eucharist is the prayer of thanksgiving and the consecration of the bread and the wine. The third is the breaking of the bread. The fourth is the receiving of communion.

The Great Thanksgiving begins with the offertory sentence which reminds us that all our possessions are really God's gifts. The reason we take an offering of money in this part of the service, rather than at some other juncture, is because the fruit of our labor is a part of our Great Thanksgiving. And so we begin with an offertory sentence…

THE OFFERTORY SENTENCE & OFFERING

DEACON: In the early days of the Church, worshippers brought their own bread and wine to the service. The deacons chose what was needed for the consecration, and the rest was set aside for the poor. Today we have lay people who bring the bread and the wine to the altar. The bread and the wine, along with the money collected for the work of the church, are the offerings that will be presented to God.

The bread and wine are called OBLATIONS. Bread, wine and our gifts of money represent our lives, our work, our recreation, our families and our community. In other words, we offer to God all that we have and all that we do. This is called STEWARDSHIP.

NARRATOR II: The deacon “sets the table” by laying first a corporal, a white linen cloth, upon which are placed a chalice, a cup for the wine, and a paten, a plate for the bread. The purpose of the corporal is to hold any crumbs which may come from the bread. Next, wine is poured into the chalice and a little water is added. Adding a little water to the wine was a sign of hospitality in the Middle East in the time of Jesus.

DEACON: Before the priest begins speaking the Eucharistic prayer, it is the custom in many churches an acolyte pours a little water over the priest’s fingers. The receptacle for this purpose is called a “lavabo bowl.” This reminds us that we should all come to God's altar with clean hands and pure hearts. It has long been the custom for the head of the Jewish household to wash his or her hands in a similar way before the prayers at the Passover meal. Jesus probably did this at the Last Supper.

ACOLYTE POURS WATER

NARRATOR II: The Priest now says the GREAT THANKSGIVING or the PRAYER OF CONSECRATION.

The prayers we use follow an ancient format written by Hippolytus in the Second century. They are based on the accounts of the Last Supper primarily found in the Gospel of Luke and the letters of Paul.

We are doing two basic things in the Eucharistic prayer: We are remembering the ancient story, and sharing in the blessing through the blessing of bread and wine. The prayer remembers the story of the people of God and makes it our own story; and we ask God’s blessing on us through the blessing of the bread and wine in our Communion.

These prayers invite us into four actions:
By thanking, we Remember
By remembering, we Offer
By offering, we Invoke
By invoking we Pray

MUSICIAN: The Holy Table or Altar having been prepared, the Eucharist continues with “Lift up your heart” – the “Sursum Corda.” The words follow the format of an ancient Jewish table blessing. The format was adopted in the earliest known Christian Eucharistic prayer by Bishop Hippolytus in the Second Century.

The Eucharistic prayer is interspersed with music of praise and blessing: the “Sanctus,” the ancient hymn: “Holy, Holy, Holy,” followed by the Benedictus: “Blessed is he who comes in the Name of the Lord...” reminding us that our God does come to us in the Holy Communion, and is made known to us in “the breaking of the bread.”

NARRATOR I: In the Eucharistic prayer, we thank God for the many ways God is present in our lives and for the many graces given to us. This leads us into a time of remembering—remembering God’s love for us, remembering how we turned away from God, remembering that God came to us as Jesus Christ to share our human nature so that we might be brought back to God. We remember Jesus’ last meal with his friends and the words he spoke over the bread and the wine and we remember his death on the cross.

Once we have remembered the ancient story as our story, we offer our gifts of bread and wine as well as ourselves and our lives to God.

It is our offering that prepares us to invoke the presence of the Holy Spirit, asking that both the bread and wine and we ourselves be sanctified, that is, that we are made holy.

Once the invocation has taken place, we are called to pray together. Our first act of prayer is the Great Amen—that final Amen we say together as the priest holds up the bread and wine.
This AMEN, printed in all capital letters in The Book of Common Prayer, is the most important part of the entire service. It is not some magic in the priests hands that make this meal we share holy, it our coming together as a family to affirm the thanking, remembering, offering and invoking with a resounding AMEN that makes our bread and wine, and us too, something more than before. Our prayer is completed when we recite together the Lord’s Prayer.
In a very real way, the Holy Eucharist is a drama. Together we reenact the offering of Christ to make it real in our lives.

SURSUM CORDA, SANCTUS AND BENEDICTUS
THE PRAYER OF CONSECRATION
THE LORD'S PRAYER
THE FRACTION
THE INVITATION

DEACON:
The gifts we gave at the offertory, the bread and the wine, are now returned to us. Because God has accepted these gifts, they are changed. They are for us the Body and Blood of Christ: they become for us love, grace and strength.

NARRATOR I: You may have been receiving Communion your whole life, or this is new to you. So let me remind you again how to receive the Bread and the Wine of Communion. For the bread, cup your hands and hold them up chest high so that the priest can easily place the bread on the palm of your hand. You may then consume the bread, or dip it in the wine and then place it in your mouth. If you wish to receive the chalice, please guide it to your lips by holding the bottom of the cup – and not the top. If you do not wish to receive the wine, cross your arms over your chest and the chalice bearer will give you a prayer. After you have received the Bread and the Wine, it is appropriate to say “AMEN.”

Some churches also offer prayers for healing during the time of communion in a chapel or side transept. Those offering these prayers will make the sign of the cross on your forehead with oil that has been blessed by our bishop. The oil for healing is another sign of the communion we share together not only in this parish, but throughout our diocese and the world.

THE COMMUNION OF THE PEOPLE

ALTAR GUILD: After everyone has received Communion, the Bread and Wine are reverently removed to the sacristy where the chalice and paten cleaned and put away. Unused wine is poured into the ground outside. In some churches there is a special basin, called a “piscina,” which allows the consecrated wine to go directly into the ground. Some of the consecrated Bread and Wine is reserved for the sick and those who are unable to come to church. It is kept in the Ambry, or cabinet.

SENDING OUT OF EUCHARISTIC VISITORS

We also take Consecrated Bread to the sick and shut-in members of our congregation so that they might share with us in Holy Communion. Since they cannot come to Church, we take Church to them. And please let us know when circumstances are such that you would like us to bring communion to you.

DEACON: It is almost time for us to go, but we should not leave before we say together the prayer of thanksgiving. After this, the priest will give us God's blessing.

THE PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING & BLESSING

MUSIC: We now prepare leave. The procession leads us out into the world around us so that we may do the work that God has called us to do, wherever we may be: in our homes, in our schools, in our work and in our play. We have been fed with spiritual Food. God has given us the strength to live our lives as faithful followers of Christ.

THE PROCESSIONAL OUT

DEACON: We have concluded the Eucharist where we began, in the midst of life, in a world where there is suffering and need. But we are centered, as Christ was, in a life to be lived and shared. The Eucharist is the work of the people of God together. It is not a service confined to Sunday morning. Rather, it is a way of life. It is the essence of life itself.

The word “mass” comes from the Latin word for dismissal. We are not allowed to linger; we are called to get back out into the world and do the work we are given to do.

NARRATOR I: Finally, the Deacon will send us forth to do the work that God has called us to do, and we all respond by saying with gusto: “Thanks be to God.”

THE DISMISSAL

12 comments:

  1. Thank you for this. I will use it with my Sunday School class (middle school) at St. Mark's, Highland, Maryland.

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  2. Thank you so much. I shall use this (searching for a long time) with my Confirmation classes and in adult initiation. Holy Trinity, Trinidad and Tobago.

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  3. Thank you for putting together a great Resource! I hope to make use of it this fall.

    St. John's Salem NJ
    July 15,2010

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  4. My colleague, the Rev. Robyn Neville, and I are using this as the basis for an Instructed Eucharist on August 22, 2010 at Holy Trinity Parish, Decatur, Georgia. We've adapted and expanded it for this parish, given the traditions of this place. With minor variations, we'll use it for both the 8:00 Rite One liturgy and for the 10:30 service using "Enriching our Worship".

    Thank you so much for the thoughtful work you've done preparing this and for making it available to the wider Church.

    The Rev. Allan Sandlin
    Holy Trinity Parish
    Decatur, GA

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  5. Dear All Souls' Parish,

    We have gratefully taken your script to use it at our Instructed Eucharist at St Mary's Episcopal Church in Barnstable, MA. We will be doing this service in March and thank you for your generosity in sharing the resource! If you have any other questions about our use of the script, feel free to contact me at kmeod@cape.com,

    Kathleen O'Donoghue,
    Director of Family Ministries
    St Mary's Episcopal Church

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  6. I'm working on an extended instructed eucharist --- portions of the eucharist explained over the course of the program year on each first Sunday of the month. I'll be incorporating your ideas at Church of the Resurrection, Centerville, Utah.

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  7. Using it as a jumping off point for an instructed Eucharist for our DOK. First note: Liturgy doest NOT mean "work of the people." It means "public acts." That is a very common, routine mistake.

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  8. Dear Anon,
    Thanks for using our work. Please tell us who you are and where you are. Also, I am not sure your source for saying we've made a "routine mistake." The source here for liturgy meaning the "work of the people" is from "Liturgy for Living," by Charles P. Price and Louis Weil, page 21. They note that liturgy comes from Greek, "laos" for people and "ergon" for work. If you've got a better source, please let us know. Thanks.

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  9. Thank you so much for this great resource. I've been searching for a "doable" Instructed Eucharist which would flow without being bogged down in too much verbage. You all have hit exactly the right notes with this service. I'll be using this in an upcoming service.
    Blessings,
    The Rev. Dr. Cindy Taylor
    Church of the Holy Comforter
    Martinez, GA

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  10. Thank you. This was very informative and I may use this as a basis for teaching concerning the Eucharist.

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  11. Thank you, I will use part of this for an Instructed Eucharist this Sunday as we do a first Eucharist for two of our youth. I will have the children at the Altar with me as we celebrate.

    The Rev. Mike Olsen
    St. James Episcopal Church
    Taos, NM

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  12. Thank you for allowing me to use this. I want to use it to explain our service so a couple who are new to our church and curious about what we do and why we do it. I also hope to use it to enrich the worship of those who may not be so new, also.

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