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., the Rev. Canon Grant S. Carey, Trinity Cathedral, Sacramento, Calif. and the Rev. James Richardson, priest-in-charge at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa, Calif., and former rector of St. Paul's Memorial Church, Charlottesville, Virginia. The script has been updated several times. Feel free to post suggestions.

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.


NARRATOR I: Today 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…


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:


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 [COLOR]. We have colors that mark each church season. In Advent, we use blue or purple. Epiphany is white or green. Lent is purple. Holy Week is marked by red, the color used for martyrs and Pentecost, the time of the Holy Spirit. In Easter, we use white. In the long season after Pentecost, called "Ordinary Time," we use green.  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 third year of the cycle – “Year C.” 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.


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.


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.




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.


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.


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.


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.



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…


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.



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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.”


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Join us Wednesday for an instructed Eucharist

Tomorrow April 8 will be our final class in this exploration of the Book of Common Prayer. I will be offering an instructed Eucharist at noon and again at 7 pm. We will go step-by-step through our Eucharist and hopefully pull together all we have talked about these past few weeks. I will post the script on this site later in the evening. Blessings to all.

New Eucharistic prayers

Last week we looked at the new Eucharistic prayers from Enriching Our Worship. See what you think. Here is No. 3:

Eucharistic Prayer 3 from Enriching our Worship

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

All thanks and praise are yours at all times and in all places, our true and loving God; through Jesus Christ, your eternal Word, the Wisdom from on high by whom you created all things. You laid the foundations of the world and enclosed the sea when it burst out from the womb; you brought forth all creatures of the earth and gave breath to humankind. Wondrous are you, Holy One of Blessing, all you create is a sign of hope for our journey; and so as the morning stars sing your praises we join the heavenly beings and all creation as we shout for joy:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Glory and honor are yours, Creator of all, your Word has never been silent; you call a people to yourself, as a light to the nations, you delivered them from bondage and led them to a land of promise. Of your grace, you have Jesus to be human, to share our life, to proclaim the coming of your reign and give himself for us, a fragrant offering. Through Jesus Christ our Redeemer, you have freed us from sin, brought us into your life, reconciled us to you, and restored us to the glory you intend for us.

We thank you that on the night before he died for us Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, gave to his friends and said: “Take, eat, this is my Body, broken for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.” After supper Jesus took the cup of wine, said the blessing, gave it to his friends and said: “Drink this, all of you: this cup is the New Covenant in my Blood, poured out for you and for all for the forgiveness of sin. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

And so remembering all that was done for us: the cross, the tomb, the resurrection and ascension, longing for Christ’s coming in glory, and presenting to you these gifts your earth has formed and human hands have made, we acclaim you, O Christ:

Dying, you destroyed our death.
Rising, you restored our life.
Christ Jesus, come in glory!

Send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and wine that they may be to us the Body and Blood of your Christ. Grant that we, burning with your Spirit’s power, may be a people of hope, justice, and love. Giver of Life, draw us together in the Body of Christ, and in the fullness of time gather us with [blessed , and] all your people into the joy of our true eternal home.

Through Christ and with Christ and in Christ, by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, we worship you our God and Creator in voices of unending praise.
Blessed are you now and for ever. Amen.