Instructed Eucharist #3; Lent 3 2019
Lent Instructed Eucharist
Used During Sermon Time
Session 3: The Peace to the Offertory
The Peace (332; 360)
Following the Confession and Absolution, the people are invited to stand and the Celebrant begins the process with the salutation, “The peace of the Lord be always with you.” The people respond, “And with thy spirit,” (Rite 1) or, “And also with you” (Rite 2).
Some people find evidence of this act in a variety of New Testament citations:
1 Cor. 16:20b – Greet one another with a holy kiss
2 Cor. 13:12 – Greet one another with a holy kiss
Eph. 6:23 – Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Phil. 4:21a – Greet every saint in Christ Jesus.
1 Thes. 5:26 – Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.
2 Thes. 3:16 – Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in all ways.
2 Tim. 4:22 – The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you.
Titus 3:15b – Greet those who love us in the faith. Grace be with all of you.
Philemon 25 – The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
1 Pet. 5:14 – Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.
3 John 15a – Peace to you.
The clear references to this act, however, go back not to scripture but to early baptismal liturgies. The peace could not be exchanged with non-Christians, but those newly baptized were welcomed into the congregation with the kiss of peace.
Holy Eucharist is divided into two parts, the Liturgy of the Word (The Word of God) and the Liturgy of the Table (The Holy Communion). Everyone was welcome to attend the first part. At the conclusion of the first part, the uninitiated and catechumens were ushered out of the assembly, the Peace was exchanged, and the liturgy continued with the second part, Holy Communion.
The Peace has taken the form of a kiss on the cheek, a hug, a handshake, and a bow. In the medieval period, it developed a hierarchical pattern: the celebrant first kissed the altar, the paten, the consecrated bread, or a paxboard (a wooden board bearing the image of Christ or a patron saint). If a paxboard was used, it was then passed around the congregation. Eventually only the celebrant and deacon exchanged the Peace, and then only on certain occasions. The practice eventually fell out of favor.
It was revived in the Church of South India and has since spread to most Prayer Book revisions in the 20th Century. The 1979 BCP both restored the Peace and located it in its traditional place between Word and Table. The ministers and people greet one another at this time, and a hierarchical pattern is expressly not recommended, nor is there a specified formula for greeting each other.
A last word about the Peace: This is NOT halftime. This is not the time to get that recipe for those killer brownies, or to inquire about ones golf game. Just as the Confession is designed for us to get right with God before receiving Holy Communion, the Peace is designed to get right with our neighbors before receiving Holy Communion. If you have had an argument with another member of the church, they should be the first person you seek out.
And a final last word about the Peace: Don't impose hugs on people. Respect their space.
The Exhortation (316)
I've put the Exhortation here because this is my preferred placement. The rubrics indicate that it may be used, in whole or in part, either during the Liturgy or at other times. In the absence of a deacon or priest, this Exhortation may be read by a lay person. The people stand or sit. In other words, there's a lot of variety as to how and when it may be used.
The Order of the Communion in 1548 contained an “exhortation to worthy preparation for receiving the Sacrament” which was to be read on the Sunday or holy day prior to the administration of Holy Communion (when it was not a weekly occurrence). This exhortation was in two parts.
The two parts remained in the 1549 BCP, one of which was read if the people were not properly exhorted for proper reception of the holy sacrament during the sermon, and the other was printed for people to read upon the Sunday or holy day people were negligent in coming to Communion.
In 1552, the exhortation to worthy reception was to be read at every celebration, while the exhortation to a worthy preparation was to be read at the discretion of the curate.
Revisions occurred in 1662 (England), and every US BCP. The 1928 BCP reduced the required number of readings to the first Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday in Lent, and Trinity Sunday. The current BCP conflates three versions of the exhortation and eliminated specified requirements for its reading.
I opt to read it the first Sunday in Lent since our seasonal focus is on preparation. And I opt to place it after the Peace and before the Offertory because it is here that we begin to turn our attention to Communion.
The Offertory (333; 361)
The Celebrant may begin the Offertory with one of the sentences on pages 343-344 (Rite 1) 376-377 (Rite 2), or with some other sentence of Scripture.
The 1549 BCP provided offertory sentences which were to be sung while people placed their offerings in the poor man's box. If not sung, provision was made for the Celebrant to say one of the offertory sentences. The 1552 BCP directed the minister to one or more of the sentences while the wardens collected the offerings. The 1662 BCP requires the minister to read all of the offertory sentences while the offerings were collected by the deacons, wardens or others.
The 1928 BCP indicated “one or more” sentences were to be read to begin the offertory, but no longer required the Celebrant to read all sentences for the duration. The 1979 BCP indicates that the Celebrant “may” begin the offertory with the sentence or sentences provided, or with another sentence of Scripture that may be appropriate. Since there is no longer a requirement that the sentences be read during the collection, the rubrics allow for a hymn, psalm, or anthem to be sung.
The hymn most frequently used in the Eastern church during this part of the service is 324 (Let all mortal flesh keep silence). This practice spread to the West and was used in Gallican rites (some of the earliest formalized Christian rites).
While the offerings are being collected the Altar is prepared for Communion.
The gospel book is removed, signifying the change of focus from Word to Sacrament.
It is the function of the deacon to set the table (Acts 6:1-6). If there is no deacon, that job falls to the priest.
The deacon places on the altar the bread (on a paten) and wine (in a chalice). Additional wine may be placed on the Altar in a flagon to be consecrated, but it is appropriate that there be only one chalice (symbolizing one cup for all). It is customary that a little water be added to the wine.
Water was originally added for practical reasons, in that it thinned down thick, gritty wine to become more palatable. Eventually theological reasons began to overtake practical reasons. Water in wine came to symbolize the water and blood that poured forth from Jesus when a soldier pierced his side (John 19:34). Water also came to symbolize Jesus' humanity, while the wine symbolized his divinity; so the mixed water and wine together represent Jesus' mixture of humanity and divinity. Additionally, because of Jesus humanity can never again be separated from God.
Page 407 of the BCP contains the only rubric regarding the Altar, and that is that it is to be covered with a clean white cloth during the celebration.
Sometimes the Altar was not covered until this part of the service.
It's during this time that you could find yourself in the midst of a liturgical civil war.
Some people say that, even though the Celebrant MAY begin the Offertory with a sentence of Scripture, they should not as it can devolve into a trite saying that has no impact.
Some people say that an adult acolyte may prepare the table if there is no deacon, while others maintain that it strictly a role for an ordained person, deacon or priest.
Some people say that the bread, wine, money, and other gifts are all to be presented at the same time.
Some people bring bread and wine forward first, followed by the monetary offering in the name of expedience.
If all are brought forward together, the congregation is directed to stand the entire time.
Some argue that the gifts are to be given directly to the person preparing the Altar, and not go through a “middle-man.”
Some say that the monetary offering should be moved immediately to the credence table, while others say it should remain on the Altar until just before the Great Thanksgiving, and others think it appropriate to leave those gifts on the Altar throughout since they, along with the bread, wine, and ourselves, are being given to God at that time.
Some people say that there should be no presentation hymn, as that disrupts the flow of the offerings and Eucharist, as well as being unsupported by the rubrics.
What's the answer to this liturgical minefield?
My answer: Do what makes sense to both priest and congregation.
As for the congregation, do you really want to write the bishop to complain that your priest isn't following the rubrics by having bread and wine presented at a different time than the monetary offering?
As for the priest, do you really want to die on the hill of “No Presentation Hymn?”
The Peace is exchanged, the Altar is prepared, the gifts of bread, wine, money, and food are presented, and we are now explicitly focused on the Altar.
This concludes Session 3.
Next week: The Great Thanksgiving to the Great AMEN