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

Week 16

Liturgical Note: As we mentioned last week, consecration occurs during the Institution. Therefore, by time the Institution ends, the meal is a Sacrament. The result is that, theologically speaking, the next two sections of the Eucharist prayer (the Oblation and Invocation) are descriptive in function. That is, they serve to articulate and make clear the nature of the sanctification that has just occurred. However, please note: this should not be taken to mean that they are not true prayers or that they do not play an actual role in the consecration. Instead, by articulating the manner of consecration, they enable God’s people to expressly join their faith to this portion of the service with clarity and understanding. Notice then we see Jesus doing this very sort of thing:

John 11:41 And so they removed the stone from Lazarus’ tomb. And Jesus raised His eyes, and said, "Father, I thank Thee that Thou heard Me (past tense). 42 "And I knew that You hear Me always; but because of the people standing around I said it, that they may believe that Thou didst send Me."

 

Oblation:

WHEREFORE O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son our Savior Jesus Christ, we, thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here before thy Divine Majesty, with these thy holy gifts, which we now offer unto thee, the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make; having in remembrance his blessed passion and precious death, his mighty resurrection and glorious ascension; rendering unto thee most hearty thanks for the innumerable benefits procured unto us by the same.

 

Notice at once the Oblation describes/clarifies the purpose of the first portion of the Institution and thus enables the prayers of God’s people to be explicit. Compare these words taken from the first portion of Institution with those of the Oblation:

 

(Institution) and did institute, and in his holy Gospel command us to continue, a perpetual memory of that his precious death and sacrifice…..

 

(Oblation) WHEREFORE O Lord and heavenly Father, according to the institution of thy dearly beloved Son…..we thy humble servants, do celebrate and make here ….the memorial thy Son hath commanded us to make

 

Importance: remember Oblation means offering. Notice then, the prayer of Oblation states what we are doing, why we are doing it, and then offers it to God (“we now offer”). In other words, we have come to the Table with the bread and wine our Savior has commanded and now offer our celebration of the meal that He has instituted. As such, the prayer of Oblation enables God’s people to fully engage in this celebration of thanksgiving with prayers that are informed and rightly directed.

 

Next, notice both here and in the Invocation we are reminded that the gifts we offer to God (the sacrament and all it entails) are gifts that we have first received from God (they are “thy holy gifts”). Notice then, in the Oblation we are reminded that the Sacrament was instituted by Christ and is God’s gift to His people. In the Invocation we are reminded that God is the one who consecrates the elements as a means to bless His people. Thus, in both cases, the Oblation and Invocation remind us that God’s grace comes first. At every step, our celebration is based on, made possible by, and is offered in response to God’s prior grace.

 

Finally, notice that the Oblation outlines the two fundamental activates of the believer’s heart during the meal. What are we doing during the meal? The Oblation tells us: (1) We remember (i.e. focus our faith) and (2) we thank (notice our thanks here presupposes our need).

 

Invocation:

AND we most humbly beseech thee, O merciful Father, to hear us; and, of thy almighty goodness, vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.

 

Notice at once the Invocation describes/clarifies the purpose of the second portion of the Institution. Thus once again the liturgy enables the prayers of God’s people to be explicit. Compare these words from the second portion of the Institution with those of the Invocation

 

(Institution) For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took Bread; and when he had given thanks, he brake it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you; Do this in remembrance of me.

 

(Invocation) vouchsafe to bless and sanctify, with thy Word and Holy Spirit, these thy gifts and creatures of bread and wine; that we, receiving them according to thy Son our Savior Jesus Christ’s holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed Body and Blood.

 

Importance: remember, Invocation means to ask or petition. Thus, in the prayer of Invocation we ask God to honor the rehearsal of the Institution that we have just performed by setting apart the bread and wine for their holy use. As such, the Invocation serves to make the theology of consecration explicit. By describing what has happened during the Institution, how it happens and why it happens, the Invocation allows the congregation to participate in the consecration with prayers that are fully informed and rightly directed.  There are two points to note here:

 

First, we are reminded that consecration is not magic nor is it a power vested in man. Instead, consecration is the work of the Holy Spirit in response to the prayers of the whole people, priest and laity alike (notice then, this is exactly what is happening here- God’s people are beseeching God to bless and sanctify). At the same time, we are reminded that the Spirit only sanctifies according to His Word. That is, He only sets apart what God has commanded to be set apart for the reasons God has commanded it. Bottom line: the Invocation reminds us that sanctification is not by man’s ability or according to man’s will. Rather, it is by God’s power and for God’s purpose.

    1 Timothy 4:4 For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected, if it is 
    received with gratitude; 5 for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.

 

Second, notice that the Invocation describes the elements as “creatures” of bread and wine. That is, their natural reality or creaturely substance has not changed. The bread and wine do not become the body and blood of Christ. Instead, they remain bread and wine. However, as sacramental signs and seals, they have been set apart to guarantee our reception of the spiritual reality they represent. Notice then:

 

As signs, the bread and wine tell us what we receive. They represent Christ (not an abstract notion of grace) and the full merits of His onetime sacrifice. Thus, at its heart, the meal signifies our renewed fellowship with God and the means by which that fellowship was restored. As seals, the elements guarantee our full and personal reception of these blessings at the time of the meal. Thus, to receive the signs by faith is to partake of the very fellowship and grace they depict.

 

Bottom line: Christ is spiritually present at the Table to nourish His people. Christ is the host and the elements are the meal He gives to feed His people. The meal that Christ provides is the full grace and restored fellowship that His onetime sacrifice accomplished.

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