All Saints Anglican  All Saints’ Church
Greenville, SC REC Reformed Episcopal ACNA Anglican Church in North America Parish 1928 BCP 1928 Book of Common Prayer Divine Hours Daily Offices Breviary terce sext compline prime vespers

On and Around the Table

Liturgical Note- remember, every ceremony, motion, and article incorporated into the worship service is to clearly underscore and communicate the aspect of the Gospel central to that portion of the service. As such, the actions and motions around the Credence Table are meant to be visible. That is, the preparation of the meal is intended to guide and to prompt the preparation of the individual’s heart

 

I. Vestments

 The Alb- The alb is the long, white, robe warn by the ordained clergy during the Eucharist service (as well as various other services). It is the oldest vestment of Christian worship, tracing its origins back to the ancient Church.  The word alb is taken from the Latin “alba” and means “white”. The alb represents the white robes warn by the saints in Revelation. It also resembles the white robes warn during Baptism. As such, the alb reminds the congregation that they are the people of God and are priests that have come to serve before their Father’s throne (the priesthood of all believers).

Revelation 7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 14 "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.15 "For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne shall spread His tabernacle over them.

Likewise, the alb (together with the rope cincture used to tie the alb) resembles the clothing worn by shepherds and thus reflects the priest’s role as the spiritual shepherd of the local congregation (I Peter 5:2). As such, the alb serves as a visual reminder to the congregation of who we are and what we have come to do as the priest shepherds us through the corporate work of worship.

 

The Stole and Chasuble- The Stole is a garment that indicates ordination and office within the Church. The word stole derives from the Latin stola, which means "garment". The most likely origin for the stole is the scarf of office used durning the Roman Empire. The scarf of office served to identify a person as an official and to denot their rank. In the same way, the primary function of the stole is to identify the minister as one who has been called, trained, examined, ordained, and officially installed to Minister God’s Word and Sacraments in a local congregation on behalf of the Bishop and the Church. Listen to the words of the Ordination service

TAKE thou Authority to execute the Office of a Priest in the Church of God, now committed to thee by the Imposition of our hands. And be thou a faithful Dispenser of the Word of God, and of his holy Sacraments; In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

 

The chasuble is the outermost liturgical vestment worn by the priest who officiates at the celebration of the Eucharist. The Chasuble (as with the stole) normally follows the liturgical color of the season. The word chasuble is taken from the Latin "casula" and means "little house,". Originally, it was simply the outer traveling garment (resembling a  poncho) common in the late Roman Empire. From early times the Chasuble has served as an important visual reminder that the service has moved from the Ministry of the Word to the Ministry of the Sacrament. As such, it further sets apart the Eucharist service, which is exclusive to God’s people, from the general service of the Word, which is open to all.

At the same time, the chasuble serves another important purpose. It is worn only by the priest who is celebrating (setting apart) the sacrament for that particular service. As such, it indicates who is responsible for the propriety of the service, the purity of its administration, and the proper provision for any remaining elements left over after the service. It is thus that the remaining wine in the chalice is always offered first to the celebrant (the one wearing the chasuble), whose responsibility it is to insure its proper and reverent disposal. Bottom line: the chasuble is not a fancy dress addition to the service. Rather, it serves as a very important visual reminder of the season, the sacrament, and the one responsible for the propriety of the service.

 

II. Articles on the Credence Table

The Credence Table- the credence table is a small side table usually placed near the wall on the Epistle side of the sanctuary. It contains the various items that are used in the Eucharistic celebration, (e.g. the bread and wine prior to their consecration, a Lavabo bowl, and a purificator towel for the lavabo).

 

Question: Why is it called the Credence Table? Credence means creed (from the Latin credens, that which is believed, also credo, I believe). Thus it is the Creed Table. Why? It holds the bread and wine, the visible creed we profess (or better the creed we profess made visible). Likewise, it is by that profession (by faith) that we receive these signs (this visible creed) as the sacrament of the New Covenant itself.

 

The Cruet and Flagon - A cruet is the vessel that contains either the wine or water to be consecrated for the Eucharist celebration. If more than one chalice is used during the administration of Communion, a flagon (a larger vessel filled with wine and sometimes mixed with water) is placed on the altar during the preperation of the Table. However, please note: any additional chalices being used are brought to the altar after the consecration. Why? There should only be one chalice on the altar during the consecration since there is only one Savior and only one sacrifice by which men are saved.

 

The Host Box- the Host box is a covered vessel used for holding and transporting the Eucharist bread prior to consecration.

 

The Lavabo bowl- the lavabo is a bowl which the priest uses for the ceremonial washing of his hand prior to the consecration and serving of the Sacrament. The primary purpose of the washing is not hygene but rather the spiritual purity necessary to minister before the Lord. As such, the washing serves as both a prayer asking God for the grace by which alone we are made pure as well as an outward reminder to the congregation of their need to turn to the Lord for cleansing in preperation of their coming to the Table. The name Lavabo means, "I shall wash", and is derived from the words of Psalm 26.

Psalm 26:6 I shall wash my hands in innocence, And I will go about Thine altar, O LORD, 7 so that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and declare all Thy wonders.

 

III. On the Altar

The cloths on the altar are linen because Jesus’ burial cloths were linen.

Mark 15:46 And Joseph bought a linen cloth, took Jesus down, wrapped Him in the linen cloth, and laid Him in a tomb.

Furthermore, most articles on the Table bare the name of some funarary item (e.g. pall, fair linen, and etc…) thus pointing to Christ’s one time death and sacrifice.

 

The fair linen is the long, white linen cloth. It is the same depth as the the altar, but is longer, so it hangs over the edges to within a few inches of the floor. It symbolizes the shroud in which Jesus was wrapped for burial. Five small crosses are embroidered on the fair linen - one at each corner of the altar, and one in the middle of the front edge. These symbolise the five wounds of Jesus. The fair linen should be left on the altar at all times even as it was left in the tomb (thus this practice together with the unbloodied wound marks proclaim the Resurrection). When the fair linen is removed for replacement or cleaning, it should be rolled and not folded. This practices probably reflects John’s account

John 20:7 and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.

 

The burse is ordinarily made of two square pieces of stiff material. These two pieces are bound together at three edges, leaving the fourth open to receive the bread. The burse is placed on top of the chalice veil and is used to hold the Eucharistic bread prior to consecration. The burse may find its origin in the linen bags or large plates (patens) used to collect the bread offered by the people. It may also hearken back to the linen napkin (Afikomen) hidden during the Passover meal to represent the Messiah’s death and burial as well as His Resurrection.  As such, the burse would then symbolize the grave in which Christ’s body was laid (which by the time of the meal, once the bread is prepared, is empty). The term burse is taken from the Latin, bursa, meaning “hide" and thus later “purse” or “pouch”.

 

The chalice veil serves much the same function as the veil in the Old Testament Temple. However, to understand that function, we must first remember that the Eucharist service is divided into to two parts: the Ministry of the Word and the Ministry of the Sacrament. While all are invited to partake of the Ministry of the Word only believers are allowed to share in the Ministry of the Table. Thus the veil serves as a stark reminder that the table is exclusive to the people of God. At the same time, it keeps that which is sacred and intimate from being gazed upon by unbelieving eyes. In Second Corinthians Paul give a beautiful explanation of the very principle behind the Chalice Veil

2 Corinthians 3:14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.

 

The pall- in a burial service, the funeral pall is a linen covering that is laid over the casket. It is most often white representing the Resurrection and it symbolizes God’s covering and protecting the person even in death (they are in Christ). In the same way, the Eucharist Pall covers the chalice. It underscores that God did not abandon Christ to the Grave but raised Him up on the third day. Its purpose is to cover and protect the chalice from any impurities that may fall into the wine during the service.

 

The paten is the plate on which the bread is placed for consecration. The word paten comes from the Latin, patina, which is taken from the Greek patane meaning platter. In the first centuries such vessels were used to collect the offerings of bread made by the congregation and also to distribute the consecrated fragments to the communicants. Later, when the offering of bread by the people became less common, the paten became smaller and was no longer used to collect the bread.

 

The purificator is a linen napkin used to “purify” (i.e. clean) the chalice during and after communion. Its name is taken from the Latin purus (pure) and facare (to make).

 

The ciborium is the covered cup or dish used to hold the consecrated bread during its distribution. The name ciborium means cover, thus indicating a covered container. (The term may also be used to refer to the cover or canopy over an altar in many large cathedrals.)

 

The mixing of wine and water- The mixing of wine and water in the Chalice during the preparation of the Table is not necessary for the Sacrament. However, it is done to symbolize the water and blood which flowed from the Savior’s side.  

John 19:34 but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.

It also serves as a reminder that Baptism, no less than the Lord’s Table, has its basis in Christ’s redeeming work on the Cross.


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