Following the exhortations to prepare for a godly participation in the Lord's Supper, The Book of Common Prayer provides a general confession of sins, a declaration of forgiveness, and 'the Comfortable Words' (biblical texts assuring believers of their forgiveness in Christ). A range of confessions and declarations of forgiveness suitable for use at this point can be found in Resources for Services of the Word, sections 5 and 6. The Prayer Book then goes on to provide another means of preparation in the so-called 'Prayer of Humble Access' (reproduced in modern versions below). Three significant changes have been made with regard to this sequence in the Second Order of Holy Communion in both Australian Prayer Books. First, if the option of having a general confession of sin and declaration of forgiveness at the beginning of the service is chosen, the Prayer of Humble Access functions as the main prayer of preparation for communion. Second, the Comfortable Words and additional biblical texts are moved to introduce this section of preparation, rather than concluding it. Third, even when there is to be a confession and absolution at this point, the Prayer of Humble Access comes first, as a direct response to the words of invitation or an exhortation. Whatever the choice, some form of reflection and congregational prayer is appropriate before the Thanksgiving or Eucharistic Prayer.

3.1

We do not presume to come to your table, merciful Lord,
trusting in our own righteousness,
but in your manifold and great mercies.
We are not worthy
so much as to gather up the crumbs under your table.
But you are the same Lord
whose nature is always to have mercy.
Grant us, therefore gracious Lord,
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that we may evermore dwell in him,
and he is us. Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book

3.2

Merciful Lord, we come here to your table
trusting in your measureless grace and not in our own goodness.
Even though we are not worthy to eat the crumbs under your table,
you are always rich in mercy.
Gracious Lord, enable us by faith
so to eat the flesh of your dear Son Jesus Christ,
and to drink his blood,
that we may be cleansed and forever dwell in him,
and he is us. Amen.

Sunday Services (altered)

3.3

Most merciful Lord, your love compels us to come in.
Our hands were unclean, our hearts were unprepared;
we were not fit even to eat the crumbs from under your table.
But you, Lord, are the God of our salvation,
and share your bread with sinners.
So cleanse and feed us with the precious body and blood of your Son,
that he may live in us and we in him;
and that we, with the whole company of Christ,
may sit and eat in your kingdom. Amen.

Common Worship

Isaiah 55 6 Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. 7 Let the wicked forsake his way and the evil man his thoughts. Let him turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. 8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.

Matthew 11 28 "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

John 6 35 Jesus said. 'I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.'

John 13 34 Jesus said, 'A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.'

Mark 10 45 Jesus said: 'Even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.'

Mark 11 25 Jesus said, 'When you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.'

John 3 16 God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1Corinthians 11 26 Whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes. 27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup.

Titus 2 11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope-- the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

1 Peter 2 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.

1 John 3 2 Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. 3 Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.

Modern liturgies have recognised the need to express both the 'horizontal' and the 'vertical' aspects of the Lord's Supper. After prayers of confession and assurances of God's forgiveness, or a single prayer of preparation, it is appropriate to acknowledge one another as the body of Christ in some way. A formal, liturgical greeting may introduce a time when members of a congregation share a greeting such as 'Peace be with you' or something more informal.

 

4.1

We are the body of Christ.
His Spirit is with us.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

An Australian Prayer Book

4.2

Christ has reconciled us to God in one body by the cross.
We meet in his name and share his peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

A Prayer Book for Australia

4.3

'Where two or three are gathered together in my name,'
says the Lord, 'there am I in the midst of them.'
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Cf. Matthew 18:20

4.4

Since we are justified by faith,
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has given us access to his grace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Cf. Romans 5:1-2

4.5

Once we were far off,
but in union with Christ Jesus we have been brought near,
through the shedding of his blood,
for he is our peace.
The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Cf. Ephesians 2:13

The Book of Common Prayer takes seriously the warnings of 1 Corinthians 11:17-34 about the significance of sharing in the Lord's Supper together and being properly prepared. It provides two long exhortations to be used on the Sunday before there is to be a celebration of the Holy Communion, a long exhortation to be used at the time of the celebration (1.1 and 1.2 are shortened, modern forms of this), and a short exhortation leading immediately to the General Confession of sins (1.3 is a modern form of this). Such exhortations may seem out of character with the style of communication in many of our services today. However, three simple attempts to convey the essence of these warnings are included below (1.4 -1.6). At the very least, a brief explanation of biblical teaching on the Lord's Supper and a challenge to participate meaningfully needs to be given on a regular basis. Even a few well-chosen Scripture verses could mark the transition from the ministry of the Word and Prayer to the Lord's Supper and alert the congregation to the need to prepare themselves appropriately.

 

1.1 Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who come to receive the holy communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ can come only because of his great love for us. For, although we are completely undeserving of his love, yet in order to raise us from the darkness of death to everlasting life as God's sons and daughters, our Saviour Christ humbled himself to share our life and to die for us on the cross. In remembrance of his death, and as a pledge of his love, he has instituted this holy sacrament which we are now to share. But those who would eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord must examine themselves, and amend their lives. They must come with a penitent heart and steadfast faith. Above all they must give thanks to God for his love towards us in Christ Jesus.

An Australian Prayer Book

1.2 Brothers and sisters in Christ, we who would come to the holy communion of the body and blood of our Saviour Christ must consider how St. Paul exhorts us to examine ourselves before presuming to eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For the benefit is great, if with a penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy sacrament. We then spiritually eat the flesh of Christ and drink his blood; we dwell in Christ and he in us; we are one with Christ and Christ with us. Yet also the danger is great, if we receive the bread and cup unworthily. Judge yourselves therefore, that you be not judged of the Lord. Repent truly of your sins, having a steadfast faith in Christ our Saviour. Amend your lives and love your neighbour. Above all, give hearty thanks to God for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, truly God and truly human, who humbled himself to death on the cross for us sinners, that he might make us children of God, and raise us to eternal life.

A Prayer Book for Australia

1.3 You (then) who truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead a new life, following the commandments of God and walking in his holy ways, draw near with faith, and take this holy sacrament to strengthen and comfort you. But first, let us make a humble confession of our sins to Almighty God.

An Australian Prayer Book

1.4 You who are truly sorry for your sins, reconciled with others, and determined to lead the new life of joyful obedience to God, draw near with faith and share in this holy sacrament to strengthen and sustain you. But first, let us confess our sins to the Lord our God.

Sunday Services

1.5 When we share the cup of the Lord and break bread together, we express our common participation in the benefits of Jesus' death for us. So we should examine ourselves before we eat the bread and drink the cup, confessing our sins to God, acknowledging the need to care for one another, and renewing our trust in the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus.

Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16-17

1.6 Since Jesus has opened a new and living way into God's presence for us, by the shedding of his own blood, let us draw near to God with sincerity and faith, assured in our consciences of his cleansing from sin. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on to love and good deeds.

Cf. Hebrews 10:19-24

Modern Anglican liturgies essentially provide two patterns of thanksgiving and consecration. First, there is the Prayer Book model (5.1), which essentially involves a prayer for right reception (containing a proclamation or remembrance of Jesus' unique sacrifice and its effect) and a recital of the words of institution uttered by Jesus at the Last Supper. Instructions are given for the celebrant to copy the actions of Jesus, taking and breaking the bread and then taking the cup while repeating the words of Jesus. The version that appears in both Australian Prayer Books begins with a brief expression of praise ('All glory to you our heavenly Father'). Another modern version of this prayer is provided at 5.2.

The second model reflects more ancient eucharistic prayers in structure and, in varying degrees, content. Structurally, the prayers begin with the Preface ('Lift up your hearts' etc.) and continue with extended thanksgiving, until the congregation is invited to join in saying 'Holy, holy holy Lord' etc. The Prayer of Humble Access is moved to an earlier point in the service, so that it does not interrupt the flow of praise and thanksgiving. Then there is a prayer for right reception, leading to a recital of the words of institution and a further congregational response (such as 'Christ has died' etc.). The third part of the structure is often a remembrance or celebration of the sacrifice of Christ and its achievement for us, leading to a prayer for the unity and dedication of the church, as it anticipates the return of Jesus and the fulfilment of God's purpose for us in his eternal kingdom. The conclusion to this third section is again some form of congregational praise (such as 'Blessing and honour and glory and power' etc.). In terms of content, there is usually a Trinitarian focus, with the work of the Father and the Holy Spirit being acknowledged along with the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus. Praise and thanksgiving predominate throughout, involving the congregation at key points. There is more of a focus on proclaiming the Lord's death 'until he comes' (1 Cor. 11:26), and an emphasis on the people of Christ as the beneficiaries of his work. There is no requirement for the actions of Jesus at the Last Supper to be repeated when the words of institution are recalled, since the whole sequence of praise and prayer by the people and celebrant together is regarded as a 'consecration through thanksgiving (cf. 1 Tim. 4:4-5). After 'saying grace' in this way, the meal is initiated by the breaking of the bread, associated with words such as 'We who are many are one body in Christ, for we all share in the one bread.'

Some recent eucharistic prayers create difficulties for Evangelicals because they are too long and complicated: the simplicity and power of the first form (5.1) is easily lost. They can also obscure the central importance of the redemptive work of Christ by adding words or phrases implying eucharistic sacrifice or transformation of the bread and wine in some way. However, some express biblical teaching quite succinctly, as the examples below illustrate.

 

5.1 All glory to you our heavenly Father, for in your tender mercy you gave your only Son Jesus Christ to suffer death on the cross for our redemption; who made there, by his one oblation of himself once offered, a full, perfect and sufficient sacrifice for the sins of the whole world; and who instituted and in his holy gospel commanded us to continue, a perpetual memory of his precious death until his coming again.

Hear us, merciful Father, and grant that we who receive these gifts of your creation, this bread and this wine, according to your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ's holy institution, in remembrance of his death and passion, may be partakers of his most blessed body and blood; who on the night he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given you thanks,, he broke 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.' Likewise after supper he took the cup, and when he had given you thanks, he gave it to them saying, 'Drink from this, all of you; for this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the remission of sins; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book

5.2 We thank you our heavenly Father that in your love and mercy
you gave your only Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross to save us.
By this offering of himself once and for all time,
Jesus made the perfect, complete sacrifice for the sins of the whole world,
satisfying your just demands in full.
Jesus commanded us to remember his death until his coming again.
Hear us, merciful Father, and grant that we who eat and drink this bread and wine
may remember his death and share in his body and blood.
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus took the bread in his hands.
He gave you thanks and broke it. Then he gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Take and eat; this is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me.'
In the same way after the meal, Jesus took the cup in his hands.
He gave you thanks. Then he gave it to them, saying,
'Drink from this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant,
which is poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' Amen.

Sunday Services

5.3 Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

All glory and honour, thanks and praise,
is yours now and always,
Lord, holy Father, mighty Creator, everliving God.

We give thanks and praise for your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ,
who by his death on the cross and rising to new life
offered the one true sacrifice for sin
and obtained an eternal deliverance for his people.

Therefore, with the whole company of heaven
we proclaim your great and glorious name,
for ever praising you and saying:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

And now, Father, we pray
that we who receive these your gifts of bread and wine
according to our Saviour's word
may be partakers of his body and blood.
For on the night he was betrayed he took bread;
and when he had given thanks to you, his almighty Father,
he broke 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.'

After supper he took the cup
and again giving you thanks
he gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Drink from this, all of you.
This is my blood of the new covenant
which is shed for you and for many
for the remission of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'

With this bread and this cup
we show forth Christ's death
until he comes in glory.

Or

Christ has died;
Christ is risen;
Christ will come again.

We offer our prayer and praise, Father,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
through Jesus Christ our Lord:

Blessing and honour and glory and power
are yours for ever. Amen.

An Australian Prayer Book

5.4 Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things,
making us in your own image.
We praise you for your Son,
our saviour Jesus Christ,
who by his death on the cross
and rising to new life
offered the one true sacrifice for sin
and obtained an eternal deliverance for his people.

Therefore, we lift our voices to praise you, saying,
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

And now, gracious God, we thank you
for these gifts of bread and wine,
and pray that we who receive them,
in the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
according to our Saviour's word,
in remembrance of his suffering and death,
may share his body and blood.

On the night before he died, Jesus took bread,
and when he had given you thanks
he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Take and eat. This is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.'

We who are many are one body in Christ,
for we all share in the one bread.

After supper, he took the cup,
and again giving you thanks
he gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Drink from this, all of you.
This is my blood of the new covenant
which is shed for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'

We eat this bread and drink this cup
to proclaim the death of the Lord.

We do this until he returns.
Come, Lord Jesus!

Father, as we recall his saving death and glorious resurrection,
may we who share these gifts
be renewed by your Holy Spirit
and united in the body of your Son.
Bring us with all your people
into the joy of your eternal kingdom,
there to feast at your table and
join in your eternal praise:

Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive praise and honour
and glory and power
for ever and ever. Amen.

A Prayer Book for Australia

5.5 Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Yes! He is worthy of our praise.

You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honour and power,
for you created all things
and by your will they existed and were created.
Therefore, we lift our voices to praise you, saying,
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty,
who was, and is, and is to come.

We praise you especially for your Son,
our saviour Jesus Christ,
who by his death on the cross
offered once and for all time
the one true sacrifice for sin,
reconciling us to you
and satisfying your just demands.
By rising to new life,
Jesus has secured eternal deliverance for his people.
Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain,
to receive praise and honour
and glory and power
for ever and ever!

We thank you Father,
that on the night before he died, Jesus took bread,
and when he had given you thanks, he broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Take, and eat. This is my body given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.'
After the meal, he took the cup,
and again giving you thanks,
he gave it to his disciples, saying,
'Drink from this, all of you.
This is my blood of the new covenant
which is shed for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.'
Therefore Father,
we thank you for these gifts of bread and wine,
and pray that we who eat and drink them,
believing our Saviour's word,
may share his body and blood. Amen.

We eat the bread and drink the cup of the Lord
to proclaim our fellowship in his death.
We do this until he returns.
Come Lord Jesus, come!

Sunday Services

 

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