Several years ago, The Rev. Sam Todd conducted an “instructed Eucharist” at Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church in Houston. Fr. Sam graciously shared his notes with me and granted me permission to use them in teaching Youth Confirmation/Sunday school, and to splash them all over the internet as I see fit.
I somehow lost the original digital version of Sam’s service, but I luckily had a hard copy of the text. I scanned it and did some minor editing. If there are errors in this text, they are my fault and not Fr. Todd’s.
Thank you, Father Todd. You will always be one of my favorite teachers.
Rite II INSTRUCTED EUCHARIST
The Reverend Sam Todd
Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church
COMMENTATOR: Would you please be seated. This morning we will have an instructed Eucharist. Instead of there being a sermon, I will give a commentary on the different parts of the service as we go through them, in order that we may better understand what we do in Church on Sundays and why we do it and how we do it. As we understand the Eucharist better, we can more fully enter into and participate in this capstone and crown of Christian worship.
The Eucharist, a Greek word meaning “thanksgiving”, is the one form of worship which is distinctively Christian and which goes back in time not only to the era of the apostles but to the Last Supper of our Lord, Himself. One of the reasons the church has always celebrated the Eucharist from the time of the resurrection onward is that our Lord specifically commanded us to “do this in remembrance of me”. The second reason we come together for this meal is that during Easter week and subsequently the apostles found that Christ appeared to them in the breaking of bread. So the Eucharist has the double character of a remembrance of the earthly Jesus and also an encounter with the risen Christ. It is preeminently in this Sacrament that we, as a community, have communion with our Lord and Savior.
Today we will use Rite Two, which we will find on page 355 of the Book of Common Prayer. The service is divided into two parts, which have different origins. The first part is called “The Word of God”; you will notice that title in bold print in the prayer book. This part of the liturgy, like our Morning and Evening Prayer services, is an adaptation of the ancient Jewish synagogue service. It is essentially a dramatic dialogue between God and His people through the word God speaks to us and the words we speak to Him. In terms of our architectural space at Palmer the ministry of the word is centered on the ambo upon which sits the Holy Bible. The service begins with the acclamation of praise on page 355. With this background, let us stand and begin our worship with the acclamation….
Celebrant: Blessed be God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
People: And blessed be his kingdom, now and for ever. Amen.
COMMENTATOR: We now exchange the ancient Christian greeting: “The Lord be with you.
And with thy spirit”.
This may have been the actual beginning of the service in ancient times and this greeting was the ancient way of saying “Hello” or “Good morning”. The Celebrant then prays the Collect of the Day, which is a prayer which changes from Sunday to Sunday but is always a petitionary prayer keyed to the Bible lessons for that Sunday. Like all our prayers, it is addressed to the Father through the Son in the Holy Spirit:
Celebrant : The Lord be with you.
People : And also with you.
Celebrant : Let us pray.
Set us free, 0 God, from the bondage of our sins, and give us the liberty of that abundant life which you have made known to us in your Son our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.
COMMENTATOR: Will you please be seated. Normally, in the Episcopal Church we stand to praise & pray, kneel to confess, and sit to be instructed. In saying, “Amen”, the people claim the petition for their own, make the prayer the prayer of the whole community by saying in effect, “So be it” or “Me too”. The Amen is a public declaration, which should be stated, in a public voice as loud and as declarative as the priest’s voice in saying the prayer.
We now move into the liturgy of the Word of God proper in which He addresses us through the Old Testament Lesson, the Gospel, and Sermon and we replay to Him in creedal affirmation. We sit to listen as we do when receiving instruction. A layman will always read the Old Testament lesson to emphasize that the laity are one of the orders of the ministry in the church. At the end of this lesson, we respond to God’s Word by saying, “Thanks be to God”.
Lector: A Reading (Lesson) from . . . The Word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God.
COMMENTATOR: Normally, we will respond to God’s word by singing the sequence hymn, the theme of which often ties in with the theme of the gospel reading. At the end of the hymn we remain standing because our Lord, Himself, is coming to speak to us. The Gospel is always from one of the four Gospels and almost always contains the words of Jesus, Himself, spoken to His disciples. We should listen as if we were the disciples He is addressing; for, indeed, we are. Because in the Gospel we are meeting Christ in His Word as we will later meet Him in the Sacrament, the Gospel is the high point of the liturgy of the Word. The preacher holds up the Word and we greet Jesus by saying, “Glory to you, Lord Christ.” After Christ has spoken to us, the Scripture is held aloft again and we say, “Praise to you, Lord Christ..”
Celebrant: The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to
People: Glory to you, Lord Christ.
After the Gospel, the Reader says: The Gospel of the Lord.
People: Praise to you, Lord Christ.
COMMENTATOR: At this point we will normally sit for a sermon; today the commentary takes the place of it but you may sit anyway. It is important to realize that the preacher does not preach because he is wisest among churchmen; nor is the sermon a license for him to share all his favorite ideas and worldly wisdom. The preacher preaches because the church has chosen him, schooled him in the Scriptures and authorized him to preach the Word to the church on behalf of the church. The task of the preacher is to so give himself to God and to his fellow humans that through his words God can make relevant, modern and compelling the Gospel preached in Palestine so many years ago. The sermon follows immediately upon the reading of the Gospel because it is to be an explication of the Gospel.
When God speaks to His people in love, His people respond in faith; so, in response to all that God has said to us, we stand and affirm our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed found on page 358.
All: We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him athings were made. For us and for our salvation he came down from heaven: by the power of the Holy Spirit he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate; he suffered death and was buried. On the third day he rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son. With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets. We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church. We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins. We look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come. Amen
COMMENTATOR: The Church continues to speak to God but now in prayer. We pray for the world and for the church, especially for the sick among us and for those who have passed into His nearer presence. In this parish during the season of Epiphany, we use Form II of the Prayers of the People found on page 385. There will be times the lay reader will pause to allow us to pray individually in silence or out loud. In this way our prayer is always new and living and we are able to pray by name for those we love because God knows them by name. Notice that this litany includes all five kinds of prayer: intercession, petition, thanksgiving, adoration and confession.
Lay reader: I ask your prayers for God’s people throughout the world; for our Presiding Bishop, for Andy and all our Bishops; for this gathering; and for all ministers and people.
Pray for the Church.
I ask your pllrayers for peace; for goodwill among nations; and for the well- being of all people.
Pray for justice and peace.
I ask your prayers for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the oppressed, and those in prison,
Pray for those in any need or trouble.
I ask your prayers for all who seek God, or a deeper knowledge of him. Pray that they may find and be found by him.
I ask your prayers for the departed especially . . . .
Pray for those who have died.
Praise God for those in every generation in whom Christ has been honored, especially, and St. Mary the Virgin.
Pray that we may have grace to glorify Christ in our own day.
The Celebrant adds a concluding Collect.
We pray to you also for the forgiveness of our sins. (Silence may be kept.)
Leader and People:
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done, and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us; that we m ay delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your Name. Amen.
Celebrant: Almighty God have mercy on you, forgive you all your sins through our Lord Jesus Christ, strengthen you in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keep you in eternal life. Amen.
COMMENTATOR: Having heard God’s Word and having responded to Him in faith and prayer, having confessed to Him our fears and failures and having been reassured of His forgiveness and acceptance of us, we end the liturgy of the Word of God by exchanging the ancient kiss of peace with those around us. In ancient times this greeting was exchanged by an actual kiss but now it is more frequently done with a handshake or a hug.
Celebrant : The peace of the Lord be always with you.
People: And also with you
COMMENTATOR: The first half of the liturgy that derived from the old Jewish synagogue service is over. We now enter the uniquely Christian part of our worship that traces back to the days of the resurrection. The Book of Acts tells us that the earliest Christians, “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 3:42) The worship Jesus began in a dining room continued to be held in a dining room for many years and has never lost its character as a meal. That is why the table is set with a linen tablecloth and candles. The earliest Christians would arrive at the host’s home, bringing food with them, which they would put on the table. They would greet each other with the kiss of peace, consisting of an actual embrace and kiss on the cheeks. Then when all were come, they would have their meal, repeating the four things Jesus, Himself, had done with the bread. On the night He was betrayed, Jesus took bread; He gave thanks for it; He broke it and He gave it to His disciples. You will notice in the order of service that our Holy Communion consists of these same four actions of taking, blessing, breaking and distributing.
The offertory is when we take bread. Partly this action is nothing but putting the food on the table, preparatory to saying grace and eating it. At the same time, the offertory has another significance, that of being in the Temple and making a sacrifice to God. That is why the Lord’s table is also called the Altar. And in offering our money, bread and wine to God, we are symbolically offering Him our very souls and bodies. So now, let us stand and in mind and spirit put ourselves on the Altar as an offering to God.
All sing the Doxology:
Praise God from whom all blessings flow ; praise Him, all creatures here below; praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts; praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
COMMENTATOR: The same two ideas of being around a dinner table and also being within the holy of holies in the earthly or heavenly Temple persist into the next part of the will service, which is the Great Thanksgiving. Today we use Eucharistic Prayer B that begins on page 367. The dialogue between the priest and people on this page derives from a similar dialogue between a Jewish father and his family gathered around the dinner table for a feast such as Passover. The priest continues with the preface at the bottom of page 367–and then adds another preface not printed in your books, which will vary with the season of the year. On the next page the atmosphere shifts from that of the dinner table to that of God’s heavenly court. When Isaiah was in the Jerusalem Temple, he suddenly had a vision of God in heaven surrounded by the cherubim and seraphim singing, “Holy, Holy, Holy” — the words we will sing. Also in the book of Revelation, St. John is transported in spirit to heaven where he sees the angels and archangels praising God in similar words. So let us turn back to the previous page and join them.
Celebrant: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Celebrant: Lift up your hearts.
People: We lift them to the Lord.
Celebrant: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
People: It is right to give him thanks and praise.
Celebrant: It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and every-where to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.
Because in the mystery of the Word made flesh, you have caused a new light to shine in our hearts, to give the knowledge of your glory in the face of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:
Celebrant and People:
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.
COMMENTATOR: We now begin the prayer of consecration. In the first two paragraphs we praise God for His love in making us for Himself at creation and for becoming like us in His incarnation and for redeeming us by Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. The priest invites us to start the action by saying, “let us pray.”
Celebrant: Let us pray.
We give thanks to you, 0 God, for the goodness and love which you have made known to us in creation; in the calling of Israel to be your people; in your Word spoken through the prophets; and above all in the Word made flesh, Jesus, your Son. For in these last days you sent him to be incarnate from the Virgin Mary, to be the Savior and Redeemer of the world. In him, you have delivered us from evil, and made us worthy to stand before you. In him, you have brought us out of error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.
COMMENTATOR: In the next two paragraphs we recall the Last Supper, the significance Christ, Himself, gave to the bread and wine and His command to us to continue to break bread in His memory. We then join the Celebrant in proclaiming Christ’s death, resurrection and second coming.
Celebrant: On the night before he died for us, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”
After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”
Therefore, according to his command, 0 Father,
Celebrant and People
We remember his death, We proclaim his resurrection, We await his coming in glory;
COMMENTATOR: Imitating Jesus, we now make our own sacrifice. We offer God our bread and wine asking Him to so infuse them with His Holy Spirit that Christ will be truly present to us in them. We also offer God ourselves asking that His Holy Spirit will sanctify us too.
Celebrant: And we offer our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to you, 0 Lord of all; presenting to you, from your creation, this bread and this wine. We pray you, gracious God, to send your Holy Spirit upon these gifts that they may be the Sacrament of the Body of Christ and his Blood of the new Covenant. Unite us to your Son in his sacrifice, that we may be acceptable through him, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. In the fullness of time, put all things in subjection under your Christ, and bring us to that heavenly country where, with all your saints, we may enter the everlasting heritage of your sons and daughters; through Jesus Christ our Lord, the firstborn of all creation, the head of the Church, and the author of our salvation.
By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever. AMEN.
As our Savior Christ has taught us, we now pray, People and Celebrant
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your Name, your kingdom come, will
your 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. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and for ever. Amen.
COMMENTATOR: We now imitate Christ’s third action at the Last Supper by breaking the bread.
Celebrant: (Facing the people, the following Invitation is issued.)
The Gifts of God for the People of God. Take them in remembrance that Christ died for you, and feed on him in your hearts by faith, with thanksgiving.
COMMENTATOR: (While priests and server receive communion) We have offered our gifts of bread and wine to God; He has infused them with His own life and now gives them back to us that we may feed upon and be enlivened by His own life which is eternal.
We kneel to receive the bread and wine and hold up our hands crossed and cupped; this minimizes the danger of the bread falling to the floor. When you receive the wine, it will be helpful to us if you will place your hand on the bottom of the chalice and gently help guide it to your lips. If you or your children wish to come forward not to receive the elements but to receive a blessing you may signal that fact to the priest by crossing your arms across your chest like this. With these table manners taken care of, let us come forward.
Everyone is communicated.
COMMENTATOR: Our corporate rendezvous with God is now drawing to a close. Emboldened by His word of good news to us, we have offered to Him our praise, concerns, sins and failures, our wine and broken bread. He has accepted us as we are and has given us back to ourselves, as true lovers do, fed, healed and strengthened with His own vitality.
Before taking His life back into the world, we pause to thank Him for our communion with Him by saying together the prayer on page 365.
Celebrant and People:
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted us as living members of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. Amen.
COMMENTATOR: The priest then gives us the benediction and we leave singing.
Celebrant: The blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit be upon you and remain with you forever. Amen.