Sermon for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
Good Shepherd Sunday
25th April 2015
Worship, Called to be a Living Sacrifice Part II
The Eucharistic Prayer-Why is the Eucharist so important in the Life of the Church and its Members???
I begin with where I started off last week:
The Hebrew root word for worship is “Abad” and the Greek word for worship is “Lateriea”; both mean to give service to…
The Prayer over the Offering is not just for the bread, the wine and the money, but is a presentation of our whole self
to be a living sacrifice to God through Christ Jesus in the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Important Points about the Eucharist and the Eucharistic Prayer
- Christ stands at the center of every Eucharist. It is not the priest or the Bishop behind the altar that is at the center of the Eucharist.
It is Christ, the Incarnate, Crucified, Risen, Ascended, King of Kings and Lord of Lords who is at the center.
- The reason why the Eucharist is done practically every day in this Parish is due to the fact that Jesus commanded it, instituted it, ordained it in 1 Corinthians 11:23-26; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:15-20 and Matthew 26:26-29.
- The Eucharist has always been the central form of worship of the Early Church. The Didache written in AD 100 in Syria speaks about the Eucharistic Prayer. Hippolytus of Rome tells us of the Eucharistic Prayer round about 215 A.D. People travelled great distances just to
celebrate the Lord’s Supper (The Holy Eucharist) and the laity were allowed to carry it home so that they could commune during the week.
We are doing something that has been going on for the last twenty-one centuries.
- We are challenged to live Eucharistic Lives-lives of being a living sacrifice in our worship, work, witness and daily labour.
- The Eucharist Prayer speaks about transformation of not only the Bread and wine but it speaks also about the transformation of those who partake of the Body and Blood of our Lord.
- The Eucharistic Prayer is designed to draw us closer to Christ and the Power of his Love.
- The Eucharist should be the highest form of devotion we show for Christ who gave Himself for us.
- There is nothing greater than glorifying God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the greatest communal meal that we are invited to share.
Let us Look at the Eucharistic Prayer as recorded in our Common Prayer Books of the West Indies.
BCP=Book of Common Prayer (Red)
SH=School Hymnal (Brown)
The First Part is called Sursum corda
This is a dialogue between the celebrant and the people of God encouraging them to lift up their beings to the Lord.
It is a reminder that The Eucharistic Prayer is the Prayer of the People which the Celebrant is performing on their behalf.
From the third century A.D. this was the usual opening for the most solemn part of any liturgy. It literally meant-lift your hearts upward. BCP 126-127/SH 36-37
The second part is the Preface.
This is the reason why we are giving thanks to God. Usually the preface tells us why we need to enter into thanksgiving. BCP127-131/SH 37-41
The Third part is called the Sanctus.
The church along with the heavenly host unite in worship. It is the Song of heaven being sung here on earth. (See Revelation 4:8) BCP 131/SH 41
Rehearsal of our Salvation History reminds us that we are only here today because of the goodness and graciousness of a loving God. Even when we have turned away from God, He still calls us to come and live in union with Him. BCP 135/SH 45
In many cases the Epiclesis came next-or the calling down of the Holy Spirit upon the gifts on the altar. Transforming Food for a Transforming people. (In many Anglican Eucharist Prayers this comes after the words of Institution or what is called the Institution Narrative and Consecration.) BCP 135/SH 45
Then followed the Words of Institution. This is my Body…..this is my Blood….. BCP 135-136/SH 45-46
Then followed the Anamenesis -living memory, making the past present. We recall, affirm, and thank God for all the mighty acts that have been done for us in Christ. In this Sacrament we are literally celebrating and participating in everything that Christ has won for us and for our salvation. BCP 136/SH 46
Then comes the Offering -we petition God to make the offering holy and acceptable as well as those who will receive it. We ask God to make us a perpetual offering to Him in communion with all the saints. BCP 137/SH 47
The final part of the Eucharistic Prayer is the Doxology - It is praise, honour and glory given to the Triune God that reflects the words found in Colossians 1; Through Him (Jesus), with Him and in Him in the power of the Holy Spirit we worship you Father Almighty in songs of everlasting praise: Blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever. Amen. BCP 137/SH 47
What has been the response of the Average Person???
- No more than just words
- This does not involve me so why should I care.
- That is what the priest/bishop is supposed to do.
- This is time for me to chat with my friends or “whatsapp” them.
- It is time to take a bathroom break.
- Let me wonder outside before I come back in to take my communion.
- Why don’t they hurry up; I have better things to do.
- Let me make the sign of the cross during the Great Elevation but I really do not understand why I am doing it.
- Total indifference
Why This Kind of Response from People who have had the Eucharist for so many Years???
There are several misconceptions that have produced the responses above:
This part of the service is for the consecrating of The Bread and Wine only -
The truth is that it is not just for the consecrating of the Bread and Wine but of US as well.
We are only offering the Bread and Wine-No it is also an offering of OURSELVES. Jesus gives
himself in The Bread and Wine of the altar so that WE can offer ourselves to Him.
Only the priest is concerned with the praise and thanksgiving at this point in the service - no, it is the entire
congregation involved in offering praise and thanksgiving.
Each service is a momentary offering of ourselves—no it is a reminder to us that we are a perpetual offering to God.
The Eucharist has nothing to do with our lives; it really lacks any relevance! The Eucharist has EVERTHING to do with our lives
What is the required Response of those who participate in the Highest Prayer of the Church???
- What takes place at this Altar every day/Sunday is a mystery and it should automatically produce wonder, love and praise to a God
who gave Himself for us 2000 years ago; a God who is still giving Himself to us right here and now; and a God who assures that He
will keep on giving even after the end of time.
- Our involvement at this point in the service is critical if we are to make the most out of the grace of God being given to us. This is our Prayer,
The Prayer of the Church, The Gathered community of the Faithful. If we lack the transforming grace, it is certainly not God’s fault. When
are we going to sit up and pay attention??? Draw us close to you, Lord, and never let us go.
- It is time to lift our life heavenward and stop wallowing in the filth and trash of this world when God created us, redeemed us,
and sanctified us for something greater.
- We need to start counting the reasons for why we need to offer praise and thanksgiving to our God.
- Is our worship akin to what is happening in heaven or are we simply going through the motions???
- Do we really know where God has brought us from, or are we too easily taken up with the immediate and now???
- Are you joining your thoughts with not only asking God for holy food, but asking the Holy Spirit of God to make you holy???
Eating transformed food to empower transformed lives???
- How deep is our lives in His word??? Does He speak and do we become what He wants us to be???
- How is our memory when it comes to what God has been, is doing, and will do in our lives???
- Do we see our lives as a perpetual offering to God or are we sinking even deeper into tokenism???
- Does our lives respond with the praise, honour and glory that is rightfully due to God or are we still disinterested and non-committed to His service and labour???
- Are we focusing too much on those who celebrate when our eyes should be fixed on Jesus who is at the center???
- Are we being obedient to all of Christ’s commands or has it all become a matter of my own personal convenience???
- Are we drawing closer to Christ or drifting further away from Him every week???
- Have we begun to worship Him or are we simply going through the motions???
- There is a decision that has to be made by not just the young, but by ALL.
- Is this part of the service just a simple routine or ritual that we go through every Sunday???
- Are we going to become a perpetual offering to the one who gave Himself for us as the Supreme Offering for the sake of the whole world???
- Make up your mind what you are going to do!!!