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Best done in company… 21 March 2017

Posted by Dr Moose in Church, Faith, Language, Lent, Life, University.
Tags: , ,

I like Tuesdays. As a general rule they’re long days, as I tend to stay in late to join the university Christian Union for their meeting. I’m not a holy (or even, not very holy) policeman checking that they are staying orthodox. As much as anything else I enjoy the chance to join in with their worship, (some years I learn new songs, for example) and I also get to hear others speak and teach. Sometimes I can’t say that I enjoy it, as it can be painfully conservative and narrow, but even then it forces me to think, to consider where, why and how my faith has changed over the years. Other times I find some real encouragement and inspiration (although admittedly not very often).

Communion clip artBut there’s also something else I do most Tuesdays, and that’s lead a service of Holy Communion at lunchtime. Or more correctly, I set up the room (I don’t have a chapel, but still remain a chaplain) for a service of Holy Communion. Table, with white cloth, LED candles, paten, chalice, bread & wine. At 1.15pm, usually while some of the Muslim students pray behind the curtain at the back of the room, I will start the service. There’s space to consider our need of forgiveness, to read and think about the set Bible passages for the day, for bring the needs of the individual, the community and the world before God. But only twice this academic year has Holy Communion actually happened.

This isn’t because of some semantic trick or clever theological argument but due to a far simpler truth. The Eucharistic Prayer, the piece at the heart of the service remains unsaid. I cannot lead the congregation in giving thanks (the Greek term ‘eucharist’ means thanksgiving) , because on all but two occasions I’ve had no congregation to lead. The word set for today in the Bible Society‘s Lent Challenge is celebrate. It’s also the verb used to describe the role of the priest at the heart of the Holy Communion (or the Celebration of the Mass, as some fellow Christians of a more catholic persuasion put it). In the Church of England without a congregation (of at least two others, if my memory of Canon Law serves me rightly) there can be no celebration.(Other Churches may vary).

cake and candlesCelebration is usually the aim of a party (of the non-political kind). Celebration is something normally done together, even communally (see the link back there to Holy Communion?) While I can be thankful of something by myself, solo, what I can’t do, at least according to this example is celebrate by myself. (To check I wasn’t reading too much into this I was gratified to find that the online Oxford English Dictionary definition leads on it being a social activity.) I’m not aware that I’d ever really considered that until today.

Gratitude, thanksgiving, is something best shared, even in places that we might not associate with celebrating. Even church.




1. Lightly toasted. | Life, Faith and Role-Playing Games - 23 March 2017

[…] may remember that a couple of days ago I was mentioning the Christian Union and how I enjoyed going there, despite some reservations […]

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