I’ve been asked before to post some of our liturgy and so here is our service from Friday’s Eucharist service. It takes the shape of the authorized Eucharist and maintains the Eucharist prayer (H) but some parts of it are re-written slightly to explain in simpler language what is happening.
It also does not contain any long monologues or doxologies as there is a limited amount of time that people can sit still, and it takes place in a context of unchurched people who wrestle with issues such as mental illness, shame, exclusion and isolation, and so it’s starting point is that they are as much sinned against as sinners, so the penitential language is less strong. The setting is in a room with sofas and comfortable chairs, and is followed by a simple picnic lunch – the context of a fellowship meal is important for us. We use grape juice and not alcohol and keep open table, welcoming everyone who wants to receive, whether or not they are baptized (We have written permission from our Bishop for these breaches of Canon law). If you are from a free church background without many legal requirements around worship, this may seem unduly formal and complicated, but for Anglicans the words said in worship are considered to exemplify and show our deepest theological and doctrinal convictions and so are guarded closely. The fact of establishment of the Church of England in the structure of the nation means these things can only be changed by law, and so often practice on the ground begins to shift first, and then law. This is the origin of the mission shaped church report in 2004 which introduced Fresh Expressions of church – ie new forms that grow out of and are shaped by their contexts and are for the purpose of reaching people who are far away from the life of the church. This has not been a universally popular idea but those of us who’ve been at it for a while have to genuinely wrestle with the issues of legality and tradition and the need for newness and response to the needs of the people, and hold these in constant tension. This is one of our responses!
(Practical note: I have included the sermon notes and prayers so there is a full picture. If copied and saved into Word and printed at font size 18 using ‘booklet printing’ setting it will take up 8 pages in an A5 booklet.)
A Eucharist with the Upper Room Community
In the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
Let’s take a few moments of silence to lay down the troubles we are carrying and rest in God’s care.
We bring ourselves before God
We say sorry to God for all the times we’ve messed up lately
We confess our mistakes
At times we are weak and hopeless and
we often make the same mistakes again and again.
We worry, and do not come to you with our fears;
we wander off and end up a long way from home.
Give us eyes to see and the will to do better,
To notice those around us who need love and care.
For the times we are angry, careless or selfish
We repent and are sorry.
Restore us by your grace and help us to change.
We believe you never leave us or turn away.
We receive forgiveness
May God the Father of mercy have mercy upon us,
forgive us our sins,
Assure us of his love,
Restore us and bring us to everlasting life.
We Share the Bible together
The Prayer for Today, known as The Collect
Risen Christ,You filled your disciples with boldness and fresh hope:
Strengthen us to proclaim your risen life And fill us with your peace,
For the glory of God the Father Amen
Acts 9:1-20 – The Voice
Narrator: So Saul was a fuming, raging, man who wanted to kill every one of the Lord’s disciples: he went to the high priest in Jerusalem for permission to look for all the people in Damascus who were followers of the way of Jesus. His plan was to arrest and chain any of Jesus’ followers—women as well as men—and transport them back to Jerusalem. He was travelling with a group of companions when suddenly – Imagine this – a light flashes from the sky all around Saul, and then he falls to the ground. There is the sound of a voice
The Lord: Saul, Saul, why are you attacking Me?
Saul: Lord, who are You?
The Lord: I am Jesus. I am the One you are attacking. Get up. Enter the city. You will learn there what you are to do.
Narrator: These are shocking and unexpected words that will change his life forever.
His other traveling companions just stand there, speechless because they, too, heard the voice; but there is nobody in sight.
Saul rises to his feet, his eyes wide open, but he can’t see a thing. So his companions lead their blind friend by the hand and take him into Damascus. He waits there for three days—completely blind—and does not eat a bite or drink a drop of anything.
Meanwhile, in Damascus a disciple named Ananias had a vision in which the Lord Jesus spoke to him.
The Lord: Ananias.
Ananias: Here I am, Lord.
The Lord: Get up and go to Straight Street and inquire about a man from Tarsus called Saul. He has had a vision that a man will come, lay hands on him, and heal his eyesight.
Ananias: Lord, I know whom You’re talking about. I’ve heard that he has been authorized by the religious authorities to come here and chain everyone who associates with You. I’m afraid!
The Lord: Yes, but you must go! I have chosen him to be my special worker, to share news of me far and wide—to outsiders, to kings, and to the people of Israel. I have much to show him.
Narrator: So Ananias went and entered the house where Saul was staying. He laid his hands on Saul and called to him.
Ananias: Saul, Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, sent me to you so you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Narrator: At that instant, Saul’s eyes were opened and he could see. So he got up and was baptized, ate some food and regained his strength. He spent a lot of time with the disciples in Damascus over the next several days. Then he went into the very synagogues he had intended to harm, telling everyone
Saul: Jesus is God’s Son!
Response to the gospel:
1. People have lots of different conversion experiences; some are slow and gradual, perhaps seen in hindsight more than at the time. Others are big and dramatic, like this one. God breaks into our lives and takes the initiative, in the most effective way. He knows us and how we’re wired.
2. How would we feel if someone like this came into our church? Ananias didn’t want Saul to come; he’d heard of his reputation, heard the rumours and was afraid. But it is God’s desire to draw Saul in – to give him a new identity and way of being.
We can judge, gossip or criticize someone who comes to church, based on their reputation. But we, as church, are God’s instrument of welcome! It’s not up to us who God invites to join his body, and he asks more of us than that – like Ananaias he asks us to be a part of someone’s healing and restoration. We all need community to change and grow and learn.
3. For Saul, he had to have his power taken away and enter a period of darkness in order to finally see. He had to rely on others while he was blind, and not his power and wealth. He was ‘taken down’ and needed to learn that lesson that none of us is a one-man-band once we become a follower of Jesus. Community – church life – shapes us, and shows us just how far the grace of God extends. Amen
Father God, Thank you that you welcomed us, And gave us a place when we were far away from you. Help us to welcome others and let go of our judgement, So we can grow together under the radiance of your love.
Mother God, We cry out to you for the pain in the world.Please bless all efforts to release the kidnapped Nigerian girls. Set these captives free. We pray for our own country, for good and fair government and peace.
Father God,We lift to you all who struggle, and all who suffer with their mental health, those wrestling with addiction or illness. Bring your healing, comfort and peace to them.
Mother God,We pray for your church, that we might be welcoming and gracious. Help us to remember the welcome you gave to us, and extend that to others. Build us into a community of love, and bless our leaders as they guide us.
Jesus is the bringer of Peace and Hope
Let us offer one another a sign of peace
The Peace of the Lord be always with you
And also with you
The Great Thanksgiving Prayer
The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts
We lift them to the Lord
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give thanks and praise
It is right to praise you, Father; Lord of all creation
In your love, you made us for yourself.
When we turned away
You did not reject us,
But came to meet us in your Son.
You embraced us as your children
And welcomed us to sit and eat with you.
In Christ you shared our life
That we might live in him and he in us
He opened his arms of love upon the cross
And made once for all the perfect sacrifice for sin
On the night he was betrayed, at supper with his friends
He took bread and gave you thanks;
He broke it and gave it to them saying:
Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you:
Do this in remembrance of me.
Father, we do this in remembrance of him;
His body is the bread of life.
At the end of supper, taking the cup of wine,
He gave thanks and said:
Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
which is shed for you for the forgiveness of sins;
Do this in remembrance of me
Father, we do this in remembrance of him:
His blood is shed for all.
As we proclaim his death and celebrate his rising in glory,
Send your Holy Spirit that this bread and this wine
May be to us the body and blood of your dear Son.
As we eat and drink these holy gifts
Make us one in Christ, our risen Lord.
With your whole Church throughout the world
We offer you this sacrifice of praise
And lift our voices to join in the eternal song of heaven:
Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.
The Lord’s Prayer
As our Saviour taught us, so we pray
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours
now and for ever.
We break this bread
To share in the body of Christ
Though we are many, we are one body
Because we all share in one bread.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to his supper.
Lord, I am not worthy to receive you,
but only say the word and I shall be healed.
All are welcomed at the Lord’s table to receive communion.
Prayer after Communion
We rise up today, clothed in the strength of Christ
We go out today, loved, to serve and love Christ’s world
We do not go alone
We will not be afraid
We shall not be overcome
We are the beloved of God.
We Receive Blessing
Heaven is intertwined with earth. We have taken Divine Life into ourselves. Go in peace to love and serve the Lord. The blessing of God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit be upon you and those you love, and grant you peace.