Vicar's Letter September 2015- Eucharist
At the heart of Anglican worship is the Holy Communion service; the Eucharist (the thanksgiving meal); the Mass (the sending out to do God’s work). The breaking open of the Word followed by the breaking of bread and pouring of wine shared amongst God’s people as the body and blood of Jesus Christ – an outpouring and sharing of God’s love into our lives. Rather than what happens being made up each time by whoever leads the worship, the service follows a set format. We call this liturgy. The word derives from a Greek word leiturgia, which means an offering of service of the most expensive and precious kind. Our liturgy sits at the centre of our work as a sacramental community, because through the sacraments, God provides us with the grace and strength to go out into the world as witnesses to the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and participants in God’s kingdom.
Worship is meant to be at once heavenly and earthly, seeking to evoke the beauty of Christ’s promised reign by taking the things of everyday life – wheat and grapes, bread and wine – and, through our prayers and by God’s grace, transforming them into the profoundly holy. We become what we eat – we become transformed by God’s holiness and are invited to share such holiness with all whom we meet and with all whom we live and work.
Our worship engages all the senses – your ears will hear the sounds of hymnody and bells, the spoken and sung voice; you may touch the stoop of holy water as you enter certain of our churches, making the sign of the cross over yourself to recall your Baptism, and you will touch the hands of each other in the passing of the peace. Your eyes will see light and shadow, brilliant iconography, and the bright colours in stained glass and of the textiles of the vestments; in St. Mary’s, you will smell incense as it rises towards heaven as a sign of offering and prayer. Above all, you will taste: taste the Bread of Life and the Cup of Salvation, taste the very heavenly banquet prepared by Christ himself for his people throughout all ages.
Visitors often comment, after attending services across our group of Parishes, upon the sensual experience of worship and how it uplifts and speaks in a way in which words alone cannot. Our Eucharistic services are a form of three-dimensional prayer, which draw us to contemplate the beauty and majesty of something above and beyond ourselves: the love and majesty of God. In the Monmouth Group of Parishes, we have five Eucharist services to choose from in our churches Sunday by Sunday, and up to four available during the week. Each is different in setting and style, yet each one has in common the opportunity to nourish us by God’s love in the form of the Body and Blood of Christ. Do try to encourage your neighbours and friends to come with you and experience worship along with the warmth of welcome which is to be found in all our churches.
Yours in Christ