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Week 18

Liturgical Note: Over the past few lessons we have looked at the Eucharist Prayers. Now remember, it is during the Eucharist Prayers that the meal we have been called to celebrate is prepared. God sets apart the bread and wine for their sacramental use, thus assuring us of His presence and grace at the Table. Our part in the preparation is to respond to God’s grace by offering our faith, thanks, and lives. The Lord’s Prayer serves as the conclusion and final portion of the Eucharistic Prayers.


The Lord’s Prayer:

Remember, the Lord’s Prayer provides a summery/model of Biblical prayer (it contains all the main elements of prayer). Therefore, it is no surprise to find that the Lord’s Prayer offers a concise expression of everything we have sought in the Eucharist prayers. Notice then:

·       At the Table we receive forgiveness of sins and are reminded that we are to be in love in charity with our neighbors. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “forgive us as we have forgiven others”

·      At the Table we enjoy a time of real fellowship at the heart of a real relationship. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “our Father”

·       At the Table we are fed and nourished thus reminding us of God’s ongoing provision. In the Lord’s Prayer we pray for “daily bread”

·       At the Table we enjoy the presence and grace of God that define our future as well as the future of all creation (remember, the Table is God’s Garden Sanctuary already present throughout the earth). In the Lord’s Prayer we pray, “Thy Kingdom come… on earth as it is in heaven”.

Importance: notice the way that the heart of the Covenant (the Lord’s Table) answers the heart of prayer (the Lord’s Prayer). In other words, Jesus has provided the very things He teaches us to seek. (In fact, notice that the Lord’s Prayer prompts us to seek those things that God assures us are already ours. Prayer then is assurance rather than pleading).


Bottom line: the Lord’s Prayer provides a fitting conclusion to the Eucharistic prayers and a proper preparation for partaking of the meal.


Liturgical Location: at this point in the service, what began way back at the opening Procession has now nearly reached its goal. The Table is prepared, the bread and wine are set apart, and our Lord promises His grace and spiritual presence. With the Peace we are called to the Table to partake. What follows the Peace describes our approach. 


The Peace

The peace of the Lord be always with you       And with thy Spirit

As we turn to examine the Peace, it is important to remember that the biblical notion of peace (i.e. the restoration of man’s relationship with God) rests at the very heart of the Gospel. Think about it: Christ is called the Prince of Peace. Angels announce His birth as that which will establish peace on earth between God and man. Paul summarizes the entire Gospel message as grace (the means) and peace (the result). The celebration of the Eucharist then is fundamentally a celebration of our peace with God.


Simply put: breaking the bread as the Peace is being said represents an invitation to the Table. Here Christ breaks the bread and hands it to you (just as he did for the Disciples on the night in which He was betrayed).


Notice then the visual parallel: remember, during the consecration of the Elements, the celebrant breaks the bread and holds it outward in his hands thus recalling Christ’s giving of the bread to the disciples. During the Peace, the priest repeats this very action. However, this time he turns and faces the congregation. The point is that just as Christ broke the bread and gave it to His disciples, SO TOO NOW Christ breaks the bread and offers it to you. As He does so, the Prince of Peace extends to you peace and fellowship with God through His one time sacrifice.


Finally, it is vital to remember that our peace with God brings restoration to every other type relationship we encounter. Thus, in Christ, we have peace with ourselves, peace with others, and even peace with creation. Therefore, from very early on, the Peace has rightly been associated with our need to forgive others and be reconciled to them even as God has forgiven us and given us His peace (Matthew 5:23).


Prayer of Humble Access:

WE do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his Body, and our souls washed through his most precious Blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.


Notice at once that immediately after receiving the invitation and assurance of the Peace, we respond by approaching the Table. The prayer of Humble Access marks our approach. As it does so, the prayer reminds us of how we are to come as well as why we need to come. First, we do not come on the basis of our own righteousness or merit. Instead, our access is granted solely on the basis of God’s great mercy. Second, we do not come casually or with indifference. Rather, we come in desperate need of the grace that God offers. As such the Prayer of Humble Access directs our approach to the Table, focusing our faith and preparing our hearts as we come.


Agnus Dei

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world have mercy upon us

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world have mercy upon us

O Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world grant us thy peace


This ancient song of the Church (based on John the Baptist’s words in John 1:29) echoes both our prayer of Humble Access (have mercy on us) as well as the invitation given by the Peace (grant us thy peace). As such, it provides a fitting and beautiful conclusion to our approach to the Table (an approach that actually began back at the procession). As we arrive at the Table singing this final song of preparation, our eyes and hearts are fixed once more on Jesus. We come deeply aware of our need for forgiveness and healing and yet we come with the divine assurance that God has provides everything we need for salvation and new life through the one time sacrifice of His Son.


Presentation of the Elements

          Behold the Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world.

For He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross that we might die to

sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.


By this point in the service we have reached the Table and the meal we are about to enjoy is presented to the congregation. As the elements are being presented this last sentence of Scripture (1 Peter 2:24) is recited, thus focusing our faith once more on the meaning and significance of the meal. First, we are reminded that the bread and wine represent Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. As such, they are signs and seals His presence and fellowship with us at the Table. Second, we are reminded that we come to be fed on the full merits of His onetime Sacrifice. As such, we come to receive grace that not only forgives our sins but also heals our sinfulness. Here then is a beautiful summation of the very heart of the Eucharist service (fellowship, forgiveness, renewal).




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