One of our subscribers, Karel Reus, is on a quest for progressive expressions in liturgy. Recently he has put together an introduction to the The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (see “Approaching the Eucharist” below), and is wondering if a conversation is possible between like-minded progressive liturgists.
Please make suggestions, offer ideas, ask questions or give a personal opinion. We do have the work of Rex Hunt, see When Progressives Gather Together (2016) or William L. Wallace’s Sacred Mass, the Salt of the Earth Liturgy from St Mark’s Episcopal Church in Washington DC, the thoughts of T.Mark Dove in his Communion Invitation, or that including children by Ana Gobbledale, but your thoughts are as valuable as any, so please help Karel (and others) in his quest.
Approaching the Eucharist by Karel Reus
Pay attention, my friends!
Come with me!
We enter a darkened room –
just oil and candle light
A dozen or so homeless itinerant men
in a rented or borrowed apartment.
They sit on the floor –
cross-legged on threadbare rugs –
and the odd cushion.
The seder meal is laid out before them,
matzos, bitter herbs, taking pride of place,
and bread, no doubt,
and wine, for sure –
laid out by the women;
the invisible women out in the kitchen
sharing secret women’s business,
while the blokes share stories and yarns
about their travels,
and events along the way -88
and they also share the bitter herbs
of Passover – remembering –
while together they intone:
She-ma yisrael, adonai eloheinu, adonai echad.
Hear O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One
Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for ever and ever.
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.
Impress them upon your children.
Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.
Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead, inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Their teacher, their rabbi, leans in.
There is something on his mind:
you can see it written on his face –
then with right hand only he deftly tears the bread
and lifts the piece.
We have it on good authority, by way of St Paul:
1 Corinthians 11:23-26
The bread is broken and lifted up
For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, ‘This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
The rabbi leans in again –
this time to raise a cup –
no chalice this, but common-or-garden kitchenware,
infused by his words:
The cup is raised
In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.’
and Paul sums it up for all the ages:
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”
No record is kept.
No one takes notes.
No motions are moved,
but they know that the earth has moved;
that the rabbi has set something in motion of immense importance,
and we watch and obey and remember.
The atmosphere has changed
as the contest of life with death plays out before them
and a tangible sense of betrayal
hangs in the air.
Rabbi Yeshua feels the walls closing in – tomblike;
he longs for fresh air and he suggests a walk in the garden….
With the benefit of hindsight, we know he will not return – in the flesh, that is.