The last two posts on this subject have explored ways in which Evangelicals can celebrate Holy Communion according to the rubrics and still avoid implying that Communion in any sense re-enacts Christ’s sacrifice. For those willing to be thoughtful in their encounter with the rubrics, here’s something I’ve done pretty consistently over the last fifteen years or so: use the eucharistic prayer on p 402 of the Prayer Book. This prayer is designed for use when using the Order for Communion on p 400, but there’s no rubric that prohibits its use in a regular service. The rubric concerning the eucharistic prayer in Rite II says ‘Alternative forms will be found on page 367 and following’ and this prayer follows p 367, even if at a distance.

The prayer has several features that commend it to Evangelicals. First, it uses the word ‘bring’ instead of ‘offer’ when indicating the elements. To say that the elements are brought can hardly mislead anyone. It’s true that they are described as ‘gifts’, but since the prayer immediately preceding these words is left to the discretion of the celebrant, they can easily be referred to in that prayer as God’s gifts, which will remove any ambiguity. The celebrant could pray something like ‘Heavenly Father, You sent Your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, Who, before He died for us, took bread and wine and gave them to us as a sign of His infinite love.’ Then continue, ‘And so, Father, we bring you these gifts’.

Second, it refers to I Corinthians 11.26 in saying that in doing this ‘we show forth the sacrifice of His death’. Third, the language of sacrifice is firmly linked to our offering of ourselves rather than our observing the rite: ‘Make us a living sacrifice of praise’.

My own experience in using the opportunity to pray parts of the eucharistic prayer in my own words suggests that it is better to write them out and read them than to invent them on the spot. The prescribed petitions in the prayer are all very short, none of them longer than two sentences, and I find that when I pray spontaneously I tend to ramble a bit, and in the comparison between my ramblings and the crisp points of the prescribed prayer, it’s not me that comes off best. Better to write it out, edit out everything that isn’t absolutely necessary, and then put it in your Prayer Book so you can read it out. Even when I insert one of the Prayer Book prefaces, I shorten them to match the style of the printed prayer.

Congregational reaction to this has usually been non-existent, especially if printed in a full-text service leaflet, although occasionally someone will say ‘I had no idea that was in the prayer book’. And the relief of knowing that no one is likely to have read anything into the service that isn’t justified has made it worth the extra trouble.

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