From the Rev. Deacon Theresa Floyd
The word liturgy generally means work of the people. If you don’t show up it doesn’t happen. Our liturgy is a community building event.
Every Sunday we come together to receive the bread from heaven, our Holy Eucharist. But, before we “sit” down at table together our liturgy leads us through a number of other community building activities. I just want to point out a few.
The first part of the service is about learning and teaching. We are reminded of our common and shared history and our relationship with God. After reflecting on the Word and works of God, we stand up. We stand up, as a community of individuals, to emphasize our commitment. Just as we stand for the pledge of allegiance or the national anthem. We stand up to profess a common faith outlined for us in the Nicene Creed. As a community, we stand up and profess our beliefs and state how we believe God has acted for us and for the Church. We are a community that shares in a common belief.
Following the Nicene Creed is the Prayers of the People, the prayers of the community. As a community we offer prayers for the Church, our nation, our local community and for our personal needs and concerns. We are not alone in our prayers; they are shared and communal.
Our confession is corporate as well. We take a moment to take look at ourselves and recognize that we are sinners, that we have our failing. We ask that we be forgiven for our shortcomings and be returned to God’s grace. We are a community of individuals seeking to be in God’s favor.
With that grace in our heart, we are then expected to give it to others. We share in the peace. This communal greeting is not just a morning greeting. When we take someone’s hand and say “Peace of the Lord be with you” we are offering them a blessing on their life. We are praying that they know the grace of God and the peace which that brings. When you pass the peace today, do it with the intention. Look each other in the eye before you seek to find someone else. Take your time to convey your prayer for them.
Do you see why we call our liturgy the work of the people? It is not just the altar party up here doing everything for us. We are active participants we are the community. It doesn’t happen without community. It doesn’t happen without you.
The strength of our community comes from our faith in God and from God’s grace to us. We are fed the spiritual food at Holy Eucharist and nourished to go into the world. We gather as a community in remembrance of Christs sacrifice for us and with thanksgiving for the many ways that we are fed by his grace.
In the gospel Jesus is claiming that he is the true source of spiritual nourishment and that those who are fed by him will be spiritually filled. In remembrance of Christ’s death and resurrection, we as a community break bread together. Our hunger and thirst can be satisfied by the bread of life which will nourish and strengthen us for God’s work.
At the end of our service as a community we are given a charge to take the grace received here today from this community into the wider community:
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord.