ABOUT THE EUCHARIST
The service called the Eucharist is the central act of worship of the Christian community. Given, we believe, by Jesus himself on the night before his death, it sums up and expresses in sign our faith in God, our desire to give ourselves to God, and our renewal by God through his love. In scripture the challenge of Jesus’ life of loving response to God is brought before us; on the altar table we plead his one perfect sacrifice and offer our lives to the Father; as we eat the bread of life and drink the cup of eternal salvation, God renews the life of Christ in us, enabling us to go out strengthened and refreshed in the faith and trust we strive to live by. At the last supper Jesus ‘placed himself in the order of signs’. The sign of the Eucharist expresses both what we seek to do for God and what God does for us. It is not part of our religion; it is our religion, in sacramental form.
The basic shape of the service is simple and direct:
The Preparation: We recall that we meet as the children of God, acknowledging our need of him and confessing our failings. Then, assured that we are accepted by God, we focus the thoughts of each day’s particular celebration – of an aspect of the work of God or the example of a holy person – in the Collect of the service.
The Ministry of the Word: Readings from scripture place our faith in the context of the history of God’s self-revelation. The final reading is from one of the Gospels, speaking of God revealed in Jesus. In the sermon the preacher seeks to interpret the scriptures for us.
The Intercession: Prayer which brings the needs of the Church and the world and our own concerns both great and small, into the setting of our faith in God.
The Peace: A sign of our reconciliation with one another, in anticipation of our communion with God.
The Preparation of the Gifts: The bread and wine are made ready for the communion. Their being brought to the altar by members of the congregation reminds us that they represent the offering of our own lives to God. St. Augustine said to the newly confirmed ‘There are you upon the table, there are you in the chalice’.
The Eucharistic Prayer: This prayer is ‘The Great Thanksgiving’. We give thanks to God for all his goodness, focusing our gratitude on the life and work of Jesus, offering ourselves to God through Christ as the bread and cup are lifted at the end of the prayer and we join in the ‘Amen’.
The Communion: We join in our Lord’s own prayer for the Kingdom before sharing in ‘our daily bread’ and the cup of life.
After Communion: We pause briefly to reflect on our life renewed and then we go out to live that life in God’s world.