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Celebrating Eucharist –
Introduction

A book such as this draws a wide range of responses from those who lead and shape liturgy. Leading liturgy can be a very personal activity in which a lot of personal belief and effort is invested. This means the material contained in this book works within a tension. The tension is to clearly present points of view with the risk of challenging deeply held belief and practices on the one hand, and on the other hand to try and encompass a wide range of view points with the risk that the book becomes bland. It was decided to encourage the author to take the former position. The hope is that as readers relate to the understandings presented here, participate in liturgy and reflect on it, the practice of liturgical leadership will be enhanced for all. The questions at the end of each chapter are offered as one way into this dialogue.

Paul Dyer
Director of DEFT

Introduction

We are in a period of reformation, a reformation which is touching all areas of our church life and not least our worship. There have been several movements of renewal which have affected worship: renewal in our understanding of the various gifts that all of us have been given by the Spirit through our baptism; renewal in the place of children within worship; a deepening understanding of language, of culture, of gender; a renewal in the use of scripture; and a renewal of the centrality of the Eucharist.

Many Anglicans remember a church where the Eucharist was not at the hub of its worship life. The highlighting and binding of the eucharistic rites at the centre of A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa well expresses the revolution which has placed the Eucharist at the heart of Anglican worship today.

Many Anglicans remember a church where the vicar was the minister. It was as if the laity helped the priest only because the priest did not have time to do everything. In services, the priest was the soloist, the congregation was the audience. Now, returning to the insight of the early church, all the baptised are seen to have a ministry. Clergy are called “to equip God’s people for their work of ministry,” they are empowered “to enable the whole mission of the Church” (A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa, page 890). The metaphor is turning around. The laity are not there to help the priest. The priest is there to help the laity. The faith community is seen to be an orchestra, with each playing a particular instrument. The priest functions as the conductor. The “playercoach” is how some now express priesthood.

This guide is written in the hope that it will nurture the renewal of our worship, particularly our eucharistic worship. Where page references are given, unless otherwise indicated, they are from A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa.

This book is written out of a western, pakeha perspective. It is for tikanga pakeha. If Maori is little used here, that is not to suggest that Maori and other languages need not be used, nor that cultural practices from other tikanga should not be incorporated. Quite the opposite! Each community, each service, is a challenge to be inclusive, and to acknowledge that we live in Aotearoa New Zealand today rather than, say, England last century. It does not seem appropriate, however, for a pakeha to provide suggestions how tikanga Maori might worship.
A New Zealand Prayer Book has several forms of the Eucharist. Each, however, follows an identical structure. Where suggestions are given here for one Eucharistic Liturgy, they can usually be adapted to another. It is worth being familiar with A Form for Ordering the Eucharist (pages 511-514). This clearly lays out the structure which the other forms also follow, and authorises some of the suggestions in this book which are alternative to resources already provided in the Prayer Book.

Uniformity in eucharistic practice has long been absent from New Zealand. The days of legalistic, prayerbook fundamentalism have gone. The spirit underlying A New Zealand Prayer Book is quite different in the ways it acknowledges local resourcefulness. In this A Form for Ordering the Eucharist provides a window into the future. “Worship is a skill to be learned and a creative art to practise” (page xv). Unfortunately, one does not have to look far to find examples of worship leaders creating or adapting services in ways which are unhelpful for good worship. Protesting that a service is “illegal” may not promote improvement. Services carefully following the pages of A New Zealand Prayer Book can also be dull and uninspiring. Hence, this book will try not to follow a legalistic approach. It is no longer enough to argue for a good idea by saying, “this is what the Prayer Book sets down.” What is important is understanding the rationale behind the revisions. This approach will not only help people to use given services more successfully, but will encourage more appropriate creativity and adaptation.

Continue to Chapter 1 Liturgy

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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