IWS Reflections from June 2010

In June I was in Orange Park, FL at the Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies for my fourth session (DWS 704).

There are 3 ideas/images/sounds that are lingering with me after this session has finished:

1. Professor Reggie Kidd made this statement (paraphrased) in lecture one day: “You and I don’t make it through each day because of our good looks and accomplishments. The only reason we can make it is because we have a High Priest continually interceding for us in heaven. His prayers are continually offered up on our behalf. He was completely human and identifies with our struggles and sufferings.”

2. The DWS 704 class has the privilege of designing and presenting a Eucharistic worship service of healing. Our class focused on the theme of “Set Free to Serve.” The motif of chains was carried throughout the service. As worshipers entered the space they were handed a 6 in. piece of chain. As a response to the Word we invited everyone to come to the front of the room and cast their chains in a large metal receptacle. The jarring sound of the chains slamming into the container was powerful.

3. One of the other practicum presentations featured a dramatic presentation of Christ’s death and resurrection from the grave. But instead of ending there, the person portraying Jesus went on to become our Great Liturgist (“in the presence of the congregation I will sing your praises.” Hebrews 2:12), victoriously delivering the bread and the wine to the very table we gather around to share the holy meal. The reality of Jesus’ presence at the table has never been more felt. The connection of the holy meal to the resurrection (not just the death) of Jesus was heavy. I was left with the image of Jesus presiding forever over the celebration feast of heaven, as well as the table each time we commune.

Communion with the Global Church

From Bob Roberts

Finally we had the communion service patterned after a group of Hindu priest who became Christians.  Now that they are believers they came up with their own method of it.  They break the coconut representing how Christ was broken on the cross – as the milk pours out they speak of him being our sacrifice that was poured out, and then the inside part is white – showing what he did on the cross makes us clean.  So Jossy Chacko led us, and instead of grape juice and wafers, it was coconut milk and shredded coconut.  It was powerful.  It was communion with the global church.

"Eucharist in the Youniverse"

Len Sweet tweeted:

@lensweet Some churches now offer hosts that are round, triangular, square, wholemeal, white, gluten free, low fibre, etc. Eucharist in the Youniverse

Should this observation really be surprising? Think about it – if we’re going to offer a variety of “styles” of worship within a single congregation (styles = different music), then why not a variety of hosts as well? Or even a variety of methods of distribution (intinction, common cup, little plastic cups, etc.). Its a natural progression for church in the consumer-driven culture. “You can have it YOUR way in the YOU-niverse.” Like Burger King.

Let’s not forget the important fact that the Eucharist is a symbolic action. In the end, it really doesn’t matter what type of bread is being used. The bread is a symbol that is alive with meaning. It is the symbolic nature of the bread that makes it significant, not the physical nature. When we hold the bread and taste it we are invited to enter into the mystery of Christ’s body, broken for us. We also are invited to deepen our understanding and experience of fellowship with Christ through the meal. In other words, the point is not how the bread tastes or feels. The point is what we engage in through the symbols: the Bread of Life.

Regardless of the shape or taste of the host, Jesus will always be with us when we gather at the table for the meal in remembrance of Him.

Wounded Eucharistic Prayer

From FreshWorship.org:

lift up your hearts
we lift them up to god
lift up your heads
we lift them up to god
lift up your voices
we lift them up to god
lift up your hearts
we lift them up to god

we praise you for your unswerving love for us
though we are fragile
though we are wounded
though we are broken
you have never stopped loving us
and you have never forsaken us

greater love has no one than this that they lay down their life for their friends

you take what is broken and transform it through your death and love
what once was hurt
what once was friction
what left a mark
no longer stings
because grace makes beauty
out of ugly things

so we join with the angels singing
holy holy holy
holy holy holy
lord god almighty
lord god almighty
heaven and earth are full of your glory
heaven and earth are full of your glory
hosanna in the highest
hosanna in the highest

in your last meal with your friends
before your betrayal
you took the bread and gave thanks
you broket is and shared it saying ‘take and eat. this is my body broken for you’

christ’s body is broken
we are christ’s body, we are broken
may christ’s broken body nourish you in all the right places

you took the cup of wine, gave thanks and shared it saying
‘drink this, my blood shed for you’

christ’s body is wounded
we are christ’s body, we are wounded
may the blood that flowed from christ’s wounds heal you in all the right places

send your holy spirit on us
heal our brokenness
by showing us our place in your community of faith
great is the mystery of faith
christ has died
christ is risen
christ will come again

this is the table of christ
today it is literally made of our brokenness
a sign that christ welcomes us all as we are
there is no need to pretend and no need to hide

so gather at this table
not because you are whole
but because you recognise your need for healing
not because you are good enough
but because you recognise these gifts of god