Evangelicalism and Worship

We are on the Lord’s side, servants of the King,
No more hesitation, all to Him we bring;
Jesus Christ our Saviour has us in His care,
In His perfect Kingdom risen life we’ll share.

Eagerly obeying, proud to bear His name,
Time is past for sorrow, ended is our shame;
Jesus our redeemer makes our spirits bright,
Leads us out of darkness into glorious light.

Children of one Father, by one Spirit led,
No more fear or doubting, all is done and said.
Jesus our Messiah sends us now to go
into all creation, His great love to show.

So, our worship ended, service we begin,
To our duty going, confident in Him:
Jesus is God with us, first and last is He,
And we will be with Him for eternity.

Suggested tune: Camberwell (Michael Brierly, 1960)

The 1995 General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada called for the creation of eucharistic prayers reflecting a Reformed theological conscience, as well as prayers inclusive in language and images. The result was published in 2001, and can be read here (p 20). Old news, I know, but worth being reminded of. Thanks to Jordan Lavender for that. I haven’t given up hope of having something similar in the Episcopal Church, but we’re not there yet.

Psalm 30

I will extol you, O my Lord,
For you have drawn me up.
You have not let my foes rejoice
Because of my demise.
My God, I cried to you for help,
And you restored my health.
From Sheol you brought up my soul,
My life from darkest pit.

Sing praises to the Lord, his saints,
His holy name give thanks.
His anger for a moment lasts,
But favor all lifelong.
Our tears may tarry for the night,
But joy comes with the dawn.
I said in my prosperity,
“I shall not e’er be moved.”

O Lord, by your great favor, you
Have made my mount stand strong;
But when you hid your face, dismay
Encompassed me about.
I cried to you, O Lord, I cried,
For mercy did I plead:
“What profit is there in my death,
If to the grave I go?

Will dust praise you? Oh! will it tell
Of your great faithfulness?
Hear, O my Lord, be merciful!
O Lord, my helper be!”
My mourning you have turned to dance;
My sackcloth, robes of joy.
My glory sings your praises, Lord:
“Thanks be to God, for e’er!”

Metrical setting by Lenny Anderson, vicar of St Francis-in-the-Fields, Somerset PA, where it will be sung this Sunday. Written for Ellacombe (Hymnal 210) but will work to any CMD tune.

John of PatmosA hymn for this Sunday, when it will be sung in public for the first time at the Heinz Chapel, University of Pittsburgh. The tune will be ‘Holy Manna’, although any 8787D tune should work. Feel free to use it, as long as you use the copyright line as printed below.

Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
Jesus, risen from the dead.
Of all earthly kings the ruler,
Yet He suffered in our stead:
Here to You Who loved completely
praise we sing and worship give,
By Your blood from sin You freed us,
Now in You we freely live.

Jesus Christ, High Priest, ordaining
us Your priestly kingdom now,
Priests to God Your loving Father,
Use us, though we know not how.
For to You is all the glory,  
All dominion of all men,
To Your will both now and ever
we give gladly our ‘amen’.

Jesus Christ is soon returning,
See Him with the clouds descend.
Every eye on earth will see Him,
All pretences then must end.
All who pierced Him, all who mocked Him,
All the earthly tribes will wail,
See at last their idols broken,
See their earthly kingdoms fail.

Jesus, Alpha and Omega,
First and Last and all between!
He Who is and was and will be,
God most mighty to redeem!
God most holy, holy, holy,
God the everlasting Son,
God the Spirit in us moving,
God, eternal Three in One!

Words: John of Patmos, 1st century AD (Revelation 1.4–8, 4.8); metrical setting © Philip Wainwright (2013); tune: Holy Manna

The Archbishop-designate of Canterbury, Justin Welby, according to the Daily Telegraph: ‘Theologically, he is unashamedly part of the evangelical tradition, upholding a more traditional and conservative interpretation of the Bible than some in the Church of England… He is also a strong advocate of more modern styles of worship.’

Of course, the Telegraph is not always correct, and has been so Catholic leaning in recent years that anyone who even opens a Bible might seem like an Evangelical to them. But it’s a nice thought.

One thing you have to watch out for when you maintain a blog is the invasion of spam comments. People who want you to visit their web-site, which sells this that or the other thing, will post a comment making some general statement, like ‘good point’ or ‘what a great blog’—nothing that requires actually reading the post they’re commenting on—and somewhere in the comment will be a link to the blog they’re touting.

During the last year, I’ve had to delete several dozen of these comments. Nothing unusual about that, I’m sure, but what must be unusual is that all the comments are made on a single posting, the first in the series of ‘Evangelicals and Holy Communion’ (here). That post is almost a year old, as is the most recent comment on it, yet until a few weeks ago it was getting spam comments added every couple of weeks. I finally closed the comment option, and since then I’ve not had a single spam comment anywhere on the blog.

What I’m wondering is, what is it about Evangelicals and Holy Communion that attracts the attention of these spammers? Is it spiritual warfare or what?

Clergy come and go, bringing—and eventually taking—their idiosyncrasies with them. One such idiosyncrasy I’ve been living with for a bit is the habit of some catholic-minded clergy of prefacing the prayer of thanksgiving in the Communion service with something along these lines: ‘We offer this service with special intention for’, followed by reference to a situation or person in particular need of prayer. Tot verba tot errores:

‘We’: who does this refer to? If it is intended to include me, couldn’t my agreement have been sought beforehand? If it isn’t intended to include me, in what sense is this Common Prayer?

‘Offer this service’: we’ve noted the problem with this idea before (here and here and here), but the usage in this case seems slightly different. The question raised here is not so much whether Communion is a sacrifice that we offer, as whether, even if it is, it belongs to the celebrant in such a way that he can ‘offer’ it, even to God, on his own authority. The Communion service is the act of all those gathered in response to Christ’s commandment to ‘do this in remembrance of me’, and the celebrant simply the one delegated to set the bread and wine apart in their name.

‘Special intention’: Jesus has the only intention appropriate to a service of Holy Communion: ‘do this in remembrance of me’. To take something God has decreed for one purpose and put it to our own purpose, however laudable our purpose may be, is something that gets pretty dire warning labels attached in Scripture. In Exodus 30 we read about the oil with which the priests and the furniture in the Tabernacle were to be consecrated, and it was blended in accordance with a special formula. And in vv 31f, we hear God’s voice saying, ‘This shall be my holy anointing oil throughout your generations. It shall not be poured upon the bodies of ordinary men, and you shall make no other like it in composition; it is holy, and it shall be holy to you. Whoever compounds any like it or whoever puts any of it on an outsider shall be cut off from his people.’ It was not to be used for anything but God’s stated purpose. That’s what it means to consecrate something. The only justification for calling it Holy Communion is that God has given it a particular purpose: ‘do this to remember me’. The place for other concerns is the Prayers of the People.

But Anglican Evangelicals are used to misunderstandings of this sort when they are at a service whose celebrant is not an Evangelical. When I come to receive, I pray that God will forgive the mistake, because the celebrant has probably not thought it through and therefore knows not what he does, and express my own desire to do only what Jesus asks us to do, and to do it for the reason He had in mind. And I continue to pray for the further reformation of the Episcopal Church.

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