Book of Common Prayer:
The Anglican prayer book is one of the major works of English literature. It was established in the mid-1500’s and was written under the direction of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer during the English Reformation. The Book of Common Prayer has served as a unifying document of faith, prayer, and practice for almost 500 years and continues to be used, along with more contemporary services, throughout the Worldwide Anglican Communion. Although the old language may be challenging, it is theologically rich and beautifully crafted. It reminds us that we belong to an historic faith.
The Lord’s Supper:
We celebrate the special meal that Jesus gave us on a regular basis at Resurrection Anglican. The Lord’s Supper is known by different names such as Holy Communion, the Lord’s Table, the Last Supper, the Sacrament and the Holy Eucharist (eucharist is from the Greek word for thanksgiving). “There are two sacraments ordained of Christ our Lord in the Gospel, that is to say, Baptism and the Supper of the Lord.” (Article 25) Holy Communion is open to all who worship Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and who are baptized. Younger children may come forward for a blessing.
Our Anglican catechism teaches that Jesus instituted Holy Communion, “for the continued remembrance of the sacrifice of his atoning death, and to convey the benefits the faithful receive through that sacrifice. As my body is nourished by the bread and wine, I receive the strengthening and refreshing of my soul by the body and blood of Christ; and I receive the strengthening and refreshing of the love and unity I share with fellow Christian, with whom I am united in the one Body of Christ.”
Modern worship songs, and hymns sung through the centuries, direct our hearts and minds to God in praise and worship. We make a particular effort to choose music that encourages congregational singing.
The Collect of the Day is a prayer that gets its name because it collects or gathers up our thoughts for the day based on a scriptural theme. The Collect may express one idea or two ideas from the Sunday readings.
The Collect for Purity:
As we gather in God’s name, we are reminded that God already knows everything about our circumstances as well as the condition of our hearts, but that we need the Holy Spirit to cleanse us. So we ask Him to do so, setting us free to approach God without reservation.
10 Commandments / Summary of the Law:
Archbishop Thomas Cranmer introduced the 10 Commandments (Decalogue) in the Book of Common Prayer as preparation for worship and as a reminder of our duties as Christians. The Summary of the Law is found in Matthew 22:37-40 and parallel accounts in Mark and Luke.
A 4th century hymn of praise to glorify the Trinity; Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The Prayers of the People:
This is an integral part of the liturgy as the work of the church is both praise and prayer. It usually starts with world and national situations, government officials, churches, their leaders, local community concerns, and then to specific needs of the congregation. The leader will often invite prayers, either silently or aloud, for those people, places or events God has placed on our hearts. Please feel free to add your own petitions. A word, short phrase, or sentence is sufficient for each concern or thanksgiving. Often the leader will conclude a prayer with, “O Lord in your mercy,” and the congregation will respond with “Hear our prayer.”
The Proclamation of the Word
Old Testament/New Testament readings:
Scripture readings may follow chapter and verse from a particular book in the bible, or be several readings appropriate to the seasonal calendar of the church.
The Psalms were originally written as songs that cried out to God in joy, sorrow, praise, and thanksgiving.
The word “gospel” means “good news”, which is what Jesus came to bring: the news that the God who made us also loves us and was willing to die for us to reconcile us to Himself.
God speaks directly through His Word to reveal the good news of Jesus Christ. His Word brings conviction of sin, restoration, healing, encouragement and the promise of eternal life. The purpose of the sermon is to increase and deepen our understanding of God’s Word, to bring us a sure and certain knowledge of his grace through repentance and faith, and to relate God’s truth to our lives. We listen expectantly, asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to how we are to live out His Word.
The English word, “creed”, comes from the Latin word, credo, which means “I believe”. A creed, therefore, is a statement of one’s faith or belief. Anglicans observe the creedal tradition of the catholic or “universal church”, looking to the Apostle’s Creed, the Nicene Creed, and the Athanasius Creed as containing the central tenets of faith that unite all Christians everywhere. “The purpose of the Creeds is to declare and safeguard God’s truth about himself, ourselves and creation, as God has revealed it in Holy Scripture.” (Catechism)
The Apostles Creed:
The Apostles Creed was once thought to have been constructed sentence by sentence, by the Apostles themselves but is now thought to have originated as a baptismal statement of faith made by early Christian converts. It is a personal profession of faith which begins, “I believe…” All agree that it is an early statement of the teachings about the nature of God, Jesus, and the work of the Holy Spirit in the Church.
The Nicene Creed:
The Nicene Creed, formulated by the 4th century, is the most widely used statement of faith in Christianity today. It reflects the belief of the whole church as a united body and begins, “We believe…” Each paragraph speaks of one person of the Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. It outlines how Jesus was and is: fully God and fully man, the one and only Son of the Father. Note: Again the word “catholic” refers to the worldwide church of all believers, the “universal” Christian church, not the Roman Catholic Church.
The Athanasian Creed:
This is read infrequently in church, however it is received and believed by the church. It is an orthodox explanation of the Trinity and the Incarnation.
Confessing our sins has a three-fold effect in our lives; it allows us to let go of those things that separate us from God, to restore damaged relationships, and to free us from the bondage to self. The general confession occurs before Holy Communion in the liturgy in order to prepare our hearts before coming to the Lord’s Table. Repentance is an activity of the heart and mind where we turn around and walk in a new direction. It begins by acknowledging that “all have sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God” when we grieve God’s heart, hurt those around us by our words or actions, or hurt ourselves by our decisions or behaviour. The good news is that we can come to the cross and ask for the Lord’s forgiveness, knowing that He wants to relieve us of the heavy burdens we are carrying.
The priest or minister says the absolution to assure the congregation that our sins are forgiven when we have truly repented and show forth the fruits of repentance. It is God alone who forgives and cleanses us when we confess our sins. This is the basis of our peace with God.
“The Peace” is an ancient Christian greeting based on the risen Lord’s greeting to the Apostles. When we exchange the peace we are not simply saying “hello” to our neighbour, rather we acknowledge to each other the peace God has given us through Jesus Christ. We say, “Peace be with you”, or “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” We reply, “And also with you.” Often this greeting is accompanied by a shaking of hands or an embrace. Sharing the Peace is also a time to demonstrate our willingness to forgive, and be reconciled to our brothers and sisters, before approaching the communion table. (Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”)
In “the offering” we present our selves to the Lord; our hearts, souls, minds and strength to Him who has given us all things. We are reminded in our offertory hymn that, “All things come of Thee and of Thine own have we given Thee.” Gifts of thanksgiving, in the form of money, are often gathered at this time. After offering ourselves to God, we are ready to begin the 2nd part of our liturgy: Holy Communion.
The Holy Communion
The Great Thanksgiving:
The Lord be with you. / And also with you. / Lift up your hearts…..
The service begins with the salutation between the Celebrant and the People, with the priest exhorting the congregation to “lift up your hearts” to God. (Sursum Corda Latin for “hearts lifted”. )
Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven… The Preface makes it clear that we are participating with the whole People of God, throughout time, on heaven and earth, as we come gratefully to this table, a foreshadowing of the heavenly banquet.
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory… The Sanctus (Latin for “holy”) is found in Isaiah and Revelation. It is the song of the saints and angels in heaven, which we join.
On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread…. In this part of the Eucharistic Prayer we remember Christ’s atoning death on the cross. We hear the words Jesus used on the night of the Last Supper, recorded in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
The Breaking of Bread:
In the 6th chapter of John’s gospel, Jesus referred to himself as the “bread of life, bread of heaven, and living water.” He said that those who came to him and ate of this food would never hunger or thirst again. He then said that this bread was His very flesh that He would give “for the life of the world.” Clearly these words are not about nurturing the physical body, rather, as we trust and believe in Jesus we find spiritual nourishment that satisfies in a way that nothing else can.
In the Passover meal that Jesus ate with his disciples on the night before His death, Jesus referred to the bread as His body, broken for us, and to the wine, as his blood poured out for the forgiveness of sins. This, He said, was the blood of the “New Covenant” between God and humankind, sealed once-for-all by the shedding of His blood. We remember Christ’s atoning sacrifice by partaking of His “body and blood” in the same way His disciples did that night with the Lord Jesus powerfully present with them at the table. As he commanded we, “Do this in remembrance of me.” Our remembrance of Jesus and his atoning work on the cross has content and meaning as proclaimed in the preached Word. The Word proclaimed is necessarily linked with the Word enacted in the Lord’s Supper. As the scriptures communicate the good news of Jesus Christ, the Lord’s Supper illustrates the good news of Jesus Christ. We say “Amen” when we take the bread and drink the wine/grape juice because we receive in faith all that our Lord has done for us.
Lamb of God (Agnes Dei): At the first Passover meal (Exodus 11-12), when the Hebrew people were still slaves in Egypt, God gave strict instructions to Moses that each family prepare and eat a lamb without blemish or spot. The lamb’s bones could not be broken. The blood was to be placed on the doorframes of their homes. Moses told the people that the blood of the lamb would protect them from death when it came to Egypt that night, for God would “pass over” the homes of those who heeded His words. The Law of Moses required a sacrificial offering to “atone” (pay the price) for sin and for the sealing of a covenant (solemn agreement). Jesus’ sacrifice as the “Lamb of God” ended any need for further sacrifice to reconcile us to God. And it is through Jesus the Christ, who has conquered death, that we have eternal life.
The Lord’s Prayer:
Our Father who art in heaven…We were given a model of how to pray by Jesus himself. When we pray the Lord’s Prayer we call God Father, asking first that His kingdom would overtake this world fully. We also ask for His daily provision, His forgiveness for us as we forgive others, and protection from our frailty in the face of evil… within our own hearts and in the world around us.
A 17th century hymn of praise to the Trinity.
Often Anglican priests will wear special apparel in services. A black cassock, white surplice and tippet have been common wear for hundreds of years in the Anglican church . A white robe called an alb may be worn and symbolizes a servant’s tunic. The stole draped around the priest’s neck is meant to evoke a servant’s towel, another reminder that the priest is to serve God and God’s people. Dress at Resurrection is the same for all services, with no distinction between apparel for Morning Prayer or Holy Communion. Stoles are often made from different colours of material which can represent the different seasons of the church year.
Anglicans sometimes begin and end services with a procession of clergy, musicians, and choir. A cross is always carried in at the head of the procession. This is to symbolize that Christ is the head of the church and that church leadership and people together are to follow Christ’s call and example to lay our lives down in love and obedience to God.
(Adapted from information found in the, Book of Common Prayer, Book of Alternate Services, Anglican Church in North America Catechism and the Bread of Life Anglican Church, Wisconsin, USA,.)