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St Andrew

What Happens in a Eucharist Service?

 

Part I

Preparing ourselves for worship

 

First we pray for help

We begin by dedicating ourselves and our worship by making the sign of the cross on ourselves and we ask God to send his Holy Spirit to inspire us and help us to worship.

Then we confess our sins

We say sorry for the times we have sinned and broken God’s commandments, hurt  others or damaged ourselves by what we’ve done or failed to do.

Sin stunts our spiritual growth and spoils our friendship with God so it’s important to deal with this right at the beginning.

We receive absolution

As ambassador, the priest declares God’s gift of forgiveness (John 20.22-23)

We sing or say the Gloria

We use a modern setting of a very ancient song called the ‘Gloria’ (Glory to God) as a response and a sign of our joy at being forgiven.

We have the Collect

The Collect is the term for the special prayer that introduces the theme of the day or the Service. This prayer is normally printed out for you on the weekly pew leaflet.      

 

 

Part II 

Receiving God’s message - the time of learning

 

The Bible readings

 We stop and try to listen out for what God wants to say to us through the  bible readings and the sermon that follows.

 In our service we usually have three readings; an Old testament reading, (followed by a psalm) a reading from the New Testament letters and finally, after a short hymn, one from the Gospels. Because the Gospel reading contains the words of Jesus we give it a special honour. We remain standing and wherever we are in the church we turn to face the book of the Gospels as we listen to the things Jesus said and did.

Then the Sermon

If  our hearts are open God will speak to us, teach us something new or remind us of something important.

If we are disciples then it is our job to listen and then put it into practice.

 

After taking in the things that God wants to say to us we respond to Him by

 

Saying our Creed

We reaffirm our faith by using the words of the creed  "We believe ... "

Then by praying

We talk to God directly. We pray for the world and for other people. This type of prayer is called 'intercession'.

We share the Peace

We shake hands or embrace in order to make our peace with each other and to ask God to give his peace to the person we are talking to.

We do this because Jesus told us to make peace with each other before we come to the Altar.

 

 

Part III

The Eucharistic prayer - remembering and welcoming

 

Eucharistic Prayer

 

 

 

 

 

We sing the offertory hymn during which the collection is taken.

At the same time the gifts of bread and wine are brought to the front and the altar, the priest and the congregation are incensed as a sign of dedication and our desire to join the worship of heaven.

The next part of the service is the most holy and special. The priest stands at the altar and on behalf of us all prays one of the Eucharistic prayers.

All of them start by thanking God for making us and for sending Jesus to rescue us.Then after we have all joined in the Sanctus (Holy, Holy, Holy) the prayer continues by recalling the things that Jesus said and did at the last Supper, how Jesus took the bread and wine and said that through them we would share in his offering of his body and blood.

We believe that through the power of the Holy Spirit the bread and wine are like doorways through which Jesus, our risen Lord, comes to us. He allows himself to be somehow incarnate and present in and through them and this gives us a chance to welcome him, genuflect and bow down in his presence.

 

The Lord's Prayer

Through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and because we have been adopted into God’s family, we can pray 'Abba - Father'.

The bread is broken

This reminds us of Jesus being broken for us on the cross.

The Invitation

The priest invites the people to the table to share in the meal.

Everyone who is confirmed or who normally receives communion in their own church is invited to share with us. Those who haven’t yet made that commitment to Jesus are invited to come and receive a blessing.

Receiving communion is our chance to be reconnected to all that Jesus has done for us through his death and resurrection. By receiving the bread and wine we once again consciously invite Jesus into our lives.

When we’ve been blessed or received communion we return to our places and keep respectful silence or join in the hymn that is being sung until everyone has received and the service resumes.

 

 

Part IV

Giving thanks and being sent out to live the Gospel

 

Post Communion prayer

We say thank you to God for the encounter and allowing us to receive the grace he gives us through the bread and wine . In return we offer him our souls and bodies to do his work here on earth.

The Blessing

Then the priest blesses the people in God’s name and sends them out to serve God by living the Gospel in their everyday lives.

 

The main Sunday service usually ends with a hymn. Then we have tea and coffee and a chance to chat and catch up on news!

 

 

An Introduction to the Eucharist

No one will ever be able to explain or even adequately introduce the Holy Eucharist. Quite simply it is too deep, too profound and too awesome a mystery to be expressed in human words.

So what can we say? Simply that for us the Eucharist is a place of meeting and communing with Jesus. For us the bread and wine are channels of his presence and his grace.

Just as in the incarnation, when God the Son stepped inside created things to rescue and redeem us, so now in some way beyond all human words and understanding, the same Lord of incarnation comes to us through bread and wine.  Through them we are somehow united to him and share in the benefits of his sacrifice.

The Eucharist is not just a reminder or a celebration of a past event. Jesus is very much alive. The experience of the disciples at Emmaus (Luke 24:35) was that the breaking of bread was the point when they recognized that it was the risen Christ who was with them. Why is that so significant?  Because the phrase ‘the breaking of bread’ is Luke’s term for the Eucharist. Luke is telling us that the mass is a place of encounter with the risen Lord Jesus.

As we gather round the altar we have a chance to hold out our empty hands as symbols of our longing and then both welcome and invite Jesus into our hearts and lives as he comes to us through bread and wine. To him be glory for ever. Amen.                                                                                      

 

Bible insights into the meaning of the Eucharist

 

A new covenant meal and a sacrament of forgiveness

Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take and eat; this is my body."  Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:26ff)  

 

The Eucharist unites us to the sacrifice of Jesus

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a participation in the blood of Christ? And is not the bread that we break a participation in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16)  

Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him.” (John 6:53ff)  

 

An encounter with the risen Lord (the breaking of bread is Luke’s term for the Eucharist)

Then the two told ... how Jesus was recognized by them 'in the breaking of bread' (Luke 24:35)

 

The Eucharist is the sacrament of unity and community

Because there is one bread, we, who are many, are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. (1 Corinthians 10:17)

 

The Eucharist is the new Manna for the journey

I am the bread of life. Your forefathers ate the manna in the desert, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. (John 6:48)

 

The focus of the earliest Christians

They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. (Acts 2:42)