nly Father, we give you thanks for all that we have and all that we are. You are the source of all that is good and may we celebrate and honour your glorious name – Amen
Today, of course is thanksgiving Sunday.
It is also the first Heavenly Father, we give you thanks for all that we have and all that we are. You are the source of all that is good and may we celebrate and honour your glorious name – Amen
Today, of course is thanksgiving Sunday.
It is also the first Sunday of the month and therefore our service of Corporate Communion.
Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October for Canadians since 1957
And in the past 55 years the first Sunday of the month in October also being Thanksgiving has happened only 8 times
And so I thought I would capitalize on this rare occurrence
We, here at Farringdon, typically call the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper – Communion – either corporate communion or chancel communion
And for good reason – in this sacrament, we are in communion with each other, with God Himself and with all that have ever celebrated this feast
Communion is a holy mystery of “community” – across time and space … and even realms
It also goes by another name “Eucharist” – this is an old word and it comes from the Greek meaning “Thanksgiving” – remember that Greek was the universal written language at Jesus’ time and the early church
And so today of all days, Eucharist, thanks giving, is an important word and important concept for us to understand
I thought I would spend the sermon time today a little differently than normal
In the essence of a “Holy Eucharist” I thought we would devote the balance of the service to a greater understanding of what it is we do when we “give thanks” as a community of faith
You might think of this as a “Teaching Eucharist”
The best place to begin is usually the beginning – so that is what we will do
If you want to follow along you may refer to your order of service from time to time
Order of service….Another older, more traditional term for “order of service” is ‘liturgy’
This too is from the Greek and it means ‘the work, or duty of the people’ – laos for people and leitourgia the original term – anglosized to ‘liturgy’
This concept is a very important one to understand
Each and every Sunday, or every worship service, is our response, our duty or our work of worship
We, are in relationship with God – it is not a one way street – with God as some spy in the sky
God came in the flesh to live as us – understands us practically, personally – experienced as we experience – and when our Lord ascended to the heavenly realm left behind the Holy Spirit – which is with us… always, to the end of time
We, in partnership, in relationship, in communion… do our part – which is to worship
And so we have the order of things as our liturgy – our listing of what we are going to do
The next concept that is important to understand is that our service, our liturgy is filled with so many ways of worship – it can be said that we worship with all our senses
We have visuals items – visually cues that are a part of worship – that are symbols of something more
We have auditory items, in fact much of the service is heard, it is spoken, sung, even the breaking of break is part of how we worship
We taste in our worship, with either the bread or wine or both
We worship with smells – here we have minimized that in regards to the flower arrangements and we as a church don’t use incense, but for some Christian that is part of their worship
And of course we feel – we all in community physically touch the communion elements, we hand over our offerings, we greet each other in hospitality We worship with all our senses alive
For us, we begin with the chimes which summon us to worship – this is a purely practical thing
Then we have the Call to worship – which for us is generally the assigned Psalm of the day or a portion there of
Sometimes the psalm just doesn’t fit for a “call to worship” – in which cases I look at one of the other readings for a seasonal alternative, but generally it can be worked with
It is an opportunity to have the Word of God spoken in our worship and spoken as a community – we do this in a responsorial way – most typically with alternate verses
- and sometimes, like today, where verse 3 was used as a refrain
Next the prayer of Invocation – this too is a beginning – it is a petition to God to be with us in our liturgy
Generally I write or use sources that are sensitive to what is happening in the readings or the special time of the year – you may notice that it often finishes with a Trinitarian statement to express the wholeness of God
All this happens with the choir and myself at the back of the church – to symbolically represent, on behalf of all gathered, our entering into worship
The opening hymn serves two purposes: it is the music in which the choir enters from a practical perspective, and it is selected usually to match the main thoughts of the Psalm – to reinforce what God is telling us through His Word
Often times it also reinterprets what is seasonally special about the day – as the Hymn does today – Come, Ye Thankful People Come
Singing is a community expression of worship, it is an extension of prayer, it is a joyous act, it is many things
Martin Luther has famously said – when you sing – you pray twice
Geoff and I take hymn selection seriously and it is part of the whole expression of worship, part of the whole liturgy – and so hymn selection is made to be in continuity with the whole of the service thematically
Or specifically reinforcing a message – such as happens at the beginning, where the hymn is paired with the Psalm also known as the Call to worship – or at children’s time when it matches that
Next we have the greeting – and this is simply a family thing to do – a community courtesy
And also a reminder of what we are here about – as we greet in the name of the Lord
Our announcements then follow – and liturgist will tell you that there is no natural place for announcements – they don’t fit in the flow of worship
But as a community gathered all together in one place and time it is a practical adjustment that is needed
You may remember that this location in the service is only a year old, but has been made to include all people of the church family, including the children and those leading the children
Next we have the Call to Confession, Confession and Confirmation of Confession or Assurance of Pardon
We are still in the beginning of our liturgy – our work of the people – and Confession is very important
It speaks to our understanding of the first commandment, which is that God is God and we are not
It is a righteous orientation – or in other words it speaks to how we approach God
With humility – understanding that we all fall short of what we could be and do
We fall short in the things that we doing knowingly and the things that we unwittingly do.
Yet in the assurance, we have faith that God calls us to repentance and forgives – pardons it all – when we humbly ask
Next our Choir Anthem or Ministry of Music – this is an opportunity for some to share in God’s gifts
and all the things that I said previously about Music also applies here
The Scriptural lessons follow – we generally, although not exclusively follow the Revised Common Lectionary
This is a three year cycle of readings that work through most of the main stories and themes of the Bible set into the context of the Christian calendar and seasons
Today, being Thanksgiving, we are outside of the normal pattern, but in step with the cultural expectations – each of the readings declare an understanding of gratitude
Each week there is an Old Testament, New Testament and Gospel Reading
It is vital that the church reads scripture publically – it is intended to be a public expression – it is intended to be a community moment of worship
It is ancient piece of the liturgy, which we see in scripture itself, with several stories in the Old testament showing this and with Jesus himself reading the scrolls as a main part of public worship
Much more could be said about the scripture selection process, and please speak to me if you do want to know more
After the readings we have a hymn – this is usually selected to be more fitting for the children and as you know we break the hymn into two parts to accommodate the children coming forward and then leaving for JAM – Jesus and Me (Sunday school)
The Children’s time is sandwiched in the middle of the hymn and it too is in keeping with the theme or themes of the day
Then we have the Morning prayers – these are prayers for our church, community, region, nation and world and usually pick up on some aspect of the readings – most often the gospel reading
Some churches view this as intercessory prayer – meaning the church interceding on behalf of others petitioning God
Today is the only time of the year that I use a responsory prayer format, but it is for all of us together as individuals and as a community to claim a prayer of gratitude
The Morning Prayer is concluded with the Lord’s Prayer
The Collection of ‘tithes and offerings’ follow
You may wonder why this administrative component is part of the liturgy and not just handled outside the worship time
The reason for this is that it is not merely administrative – it is our response to God’s blessings,
it is our duty, it is a statement of what we value,
it is a statement of giving because the Lord has given to us,
it is a community expression
A blessing is then said over it because we want to declare that it and everything is God’s
Usually, on Corporate Communion Sundays, the Hymn is sung after the sermon – as a means of approaching this different part of the service and also practically for the Elders, Deacons and myself to move into place
Today as this teaching Eucharist is the sermon time, the Hymn was moved and I will call up the Elders and Deacons later on.
Everything up to and including the sermon, on Communion Sundays service, is known as the Ministry of the Word – and after that everything else in the service is seen as Ministry of the Sacrament
Historically, clergy were understood to be “Ministers of Word and Sacrament”
The Sacrament of Holy Communion
Move and put on the chasuble
This garment that I am putting on is known as a Chasuble
It is a Eucharistic vestment – and it is understood to be a symbolic representation of Christ putting over His shoulder the towel which He used to wash the feet of the disciples on, that, the first Lord’s Supper It is a garment (or vestment) of servanthood
You will note that there are different colours – matching the different colours of the lectern, pulpit and table
These colours are symbolic representations of the Christian year
· White for High Holy days – Christmas, Easter …and also to mark high Holy occasions like Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals
· Purple for Advent and Lent – marking a time of preparation – sometimes also for Funerals as a somber preparation for the life eternal
· Red is the colour of the Holy Spirit as to represent the flames of Pentecost
· Green is for the balance of the year – Green representing life and growth
The Ministry of the Sacrament begins with a statement of Faith – we use the Apostle’s creed
A creed is simply a statement of what we (the church universal) believe
The Apostle’s creed is the oldest of all creeds – thought to be passed on by the Apostles
It is in three parts:
- the first speaks about our belief in God the Father,
- the second (longest section) about our beliefs in God the Son
- and the third God the Holy Spirit, and the church, the manifestation of the Spirit
We stand in respect to our lord
If you would turn to your Bulletins and let’s stand and say that together now
The Apostles’ Creed
I Believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth;
And in Jesus Christ His only Son our Lord; Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; He descended into hell; the third day He rose again from the dead; He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen. please be seated
Next I lead in saying the Invitation – and this is just what the words reveal
In the Name of Jesus Christ I invite all who profess Him as Lord, and are seeking to follow in His way and to live in unity with one another, to come to this, His Altar, with reverence, faith and thanksgiving. Share in this Holy Sacrament for your strengthening, so that you may grow in grace and be blessed with all spiritual blessings, remembering that we are one body in Christ.
Next the Prayer of Approach and this similar to the role of the three part confessional sequence, it is acknowledging our role and God’s role
– it is a humble prayer, it includes thanksgiving and a declaration that all the world is the Lord
- It is an appeal to be in unity with all God’s creation, on earth and in heaven with the spiritual realm
The Prayer of Approach
Let us pray: It is our constant duty that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O Holy Lord, Father Almighty, Everlasting God; Who created the heavens and earth and all that in them is; Who made people in Thine Own image and Whose tender mercies are over all Thy works. Therefore, with Angels and Archangels and all the company of heaven, we worship and adore Thy Glorious Name, evermore praising Thee and singing: (please join together)
The Sanctus & Benedictus
Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Hosts;
Heaven and earth are full of Thy glory;
Glory be to Thee, O Lord most high. Amen
Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
We as the community, together gathered, declare the Sanctus & Benedictus – which is declaring the sanctity, sacredness of the Lord and Blessedness of Jesus Christ and His saving grace
The Consecration is next and this is where I, as representative leader, set apart the elements of bread (wafers) and wine or grape juice (fruit of the vine) for a special purpose, a holy purpose
As the Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed, took bread, I take these Elements of bread and wine, to be set apart from all common uses to his holy use and mystery.
Next together we say the Agnus Dei
– and at this time I ask that the serving elders and deacons to come forward, please
The Agnus Dei is basically a declaration and prayer for what we are about to receive
You might even think of this a bit like a ‘grace’
It is in Trinitarian format – a line for each person of the Trinity – (together)
The Agnus Dei
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, have mercy upon us.
O Lamb of God, that takest away the sins of the world, grant us Thy peace.
The Fraction and distribution is a little story telling – a brief restating of the evening our Lord instituted this Thanksgiving feast
The Fraction and Distribution
Our Lord Jesus Christ, the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He brake it, and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you; this do in remembrance of Me.
[Distribute the bread by giving trays to the Serving Elders.]
Our procedure for communion distribution, as modeled by our Lord Jesus Christ, where we were given the new commandment to serve as Jesus served.
Therefore when communion, in bread and wine, is distributed the plate is passed to the second last person in the row and served to the last,
then passed onward toward the middle where each person is served communion.
You will also notice that I too, do not take communion as a self-served meal, but I am served – we all together in community model servant ministry
The Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, Which was broken for thee, preserve thee unto everlasting life. Take and Eat this remembrance that Christ died for thee, and feed on Him in thy heart by faith with thanksgiving.
(All consume the bread)
After the same manner also He took the cup, when He had supped, saying, This cup is the New Covenant in My blood; do this, as oft as you shall drink it, in remembrance of Me. For as often as you eat this bread, and drink this cup, you do show the Lord’s death till He comes.
[Distribute the wine in the same manner as the bread]
The Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, Which was shed for thee, preserve thee unto everlasting life. Drink this in remembrance that Christ’s blood was shed for thee, and be thankful.
(All consume the wine)
Our closing Hymn is once again a prayer and worship about what has occurred in the service and what we are being sent into the world to do
It is written that when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
So let us join together and sing our closing HYMN, Number***
Closing Hymn 723 “For the Fruit of All Creation”
This whole Eucharistic liturgy is a thanksgiving celebration, to our God, by us the people of God
It is a complete unit – the whole service is to be understood as our fitting response to God
This Thanksgiving weekend as you do your own traditions, which might include family and friends around a table or a living room saying what they are thankful for – know that we Christians thank God more than just one weekend a year
We thank God every time we gather together doing the work of the people and especially when we gather to commune as one – to share in the rehearsal of the heavenly banquet
Commune in thanks with each other, with every Christian through-out history – and most importantly Commune in thanks with God