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Instructed Eucharist #2; Lent 2

Lent Instructed Eucharist

Used During Sermon Time

Session 2: The Sermon to the Absolution


The Sermon (326; 358)

Following the Gospel, a sermon is preached. Sermons have been required in the Anglican tradition since the 1549 BCP. In the early centuries, expositions/reflections of the appointed lections was a regular part of the worship service. Eventually it fell out of practice and sermons were sometimes preached no more than one to four times a year. Martin Luther required sermons at every Mass. And before the 1549 BCP, the Church of England issued a book of homilies from which one was to be read every Sunday.


The Nicene Creed (326; 358)

This is THE statement of faith for Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Anglican churches, as well as some others. The Creed originated in the East as a baptismal profession of faith based on Matt. 28:19 and Eph. 4:4-6.

In 325 the Council of Nicaea amplified the Creed in an effort to combat the Arian heresy (“There was a time when the Son was not”). It was amplified again in 381 at Constantinople to combat Apollinarianism (Jesus had a human body but a divine mind). And it was fully adopted in 451 at Chalcedon. It slowly spread throughout the Church.

It was introduced in the West at the third Council of Toledo in Spain in 589 to remind Arian converts of the orthodox faith. It was also here that the filioque clause (and the Son) was added. This addition was never agreed to by the whole Church and has never been accepted by the Eastern Church. The Episcopal church has agreed to remove this clause in the next BCP revision.

It is customary to make a solemn bow at the Incarnational affirmation (“For us and for our salvation he came down . . . and was made man”). Some people maintain this bow through to the Resurrection (“On the third day he rose again”).

It is also customary to cross oneself at the hope of the Resurrection (“We look for the resurrection of the dead”). This signifies both our faithful hope in the resurrection and our affirmation of the resurrection statement.

Because this is the statement of faith for the Church, it is written in plural language.

It is required on all Sundays and Major Feasts.

Rite 1 offers the option of the more personal version which is tied back to baptisms (I over We).



The Prayers of the People (328-330; 359 [383-392])

Liturgical scholars have been able to locate the PotP in this position since at least the 2nd Century. They have been located in various places of the service throughout the years, and the current BCP formally restores them to this position.

Rite 1 defaults to the form on pp. 329-330, and Rite 2 offers six pre-written options.

Rite 1 could, if desired, use any of the Rite 2 forms (pp. 383-392).

Either Rite could make use of congregational-written prayers as long as the form met the requirements on p. 383: the Universal Church, members, and mission; the Nation and those in authority; the welfare of the world; local concerns; the suffering and those in trouble; the departed.

There is no requirement as to which prayer is used when; but I have a system:

I: Advent (Based on the Eastern liturgies of Sts. Basil and Chrysostom) – it has a slight penitential nature with the “Lord, have mercy” responses;

II: Lent (These are new to this BCP) – I like utilizing the space for silence during Lent;

III: Christmas/Easter (Also new to '79 and revised from New Zealand prayers of 1966) – I like the congregational responses during the seasons of Incarnation and Resurrection;

IV: Epiphany (New to '79, taken from English '67 additions; in the '70 Green Book) – Epiphany is about revelations, and the first prayer speaks of “reveal[ing] your glory in the world”;

V: Never (A Western adaptation of the Eastern litany) – it's simply too long;

VI: Pentecost/Ordinary Time (Authorized by '69 special GC, added to '70 Green Book) – probably because of the incorporated Confession, this seems to be the default version in the church, so I use it in the longest season along with the default Eucharistic Prayer (discussed later).

The Prayers conclude with a Collect

Either said by the Celebrant or one recited by All


There is no rubric dictating posture during the PotP; some stand, some kneel, some, for physical reasons, remain seated. However, there are two times when I tend to get picky:

          1. during the Great 50 Days of Easter there is a tradition that kneeling is not allowed since we are standing in the glory of the Resurrection, and my preference that all stand for the prayers;

          2. during Lent, since it is a penitential season, kneeling in prayer seems more appropriate.


The Confession of Sin (330-331; 360)

After we have gathered, heard the readings, listened to the sermon, proclaimed our faith, and prayed for the Church and the world, we begin to focus on receiving Holy Communion. The Confession allows us to receive the blessed sacrament in a state of forgiveness.

Acknowledging our sins and being absolved of those sins began to appear in various liturgies during the Reformation period.

If not said earlier, as in the Penitential rite that begins our liturgy in Lent, the Confession is said here. Rite 2 has a Confession built into Form VI of the PotP.

A Deacon or the Celebrant invites people to make a general confession.

The traditional position of confession is kneeling.

In Rite 1, the longer, first bidding has been in place since 1548; the shorter form was new in 1892.

The bidding in Rite 2 is new to the '79 BCP.

A period of silence may be kept.

You will notice that I keep a period of silence here, giving us time to slow down and contemplate our sins, both known and unknown. In Rite 2, this is part of the reason I always use the form on page 360 and not the form following Prayer VI, because it gives a natural break while people turn back to page 360.

The General Confession has been said by all since 1662.

There are two versions in Rite 1. The first form dates to 1548, and the second is new to '79.

Rite 2 only contains the newer 1979 version.


The Absolution (332; 360)

Since the days of the early Church, priests have been given power and commandment to declare and pronounce absolution and remission of sins to penitent sinners. That act is performed here.

Rite 1 contains a long-form absolution which has been in effect since 1549.

Rite 2 is a new, shorter derivative of the 1549 absolution.

During the pronouncement of absolution, the priest will make the sign of the cross over the congregation. The people may make the sign of the cross themselves as an acknowledgment of receiving absolution.

Following the Absolution are four sentences of scripture in Rite 1. Before 1979, it was required that all four be read at every celebration of Communion. They became optional in 1979, and do not appear in Rite 2. All four sentences date to 1548.


This concludes Session 2.

Next week: The Peace to the Offertory

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