midday eucharist...

For the past four years, I gather with a handful of people at 12:10 pm each Wednesday for midday Eucharist. Sometimes there are as many as 12 but mostly it is 3-7 of us. We sit in the Chancel of the Sanctuary, listen to quiet music, pray the Psalms and do lectio divina together before sharing a sign of Christ's peace. Then, we gather around the communion table and pray the Eucharistic Prayer from one of the Community of Iona's liturgies. At the close, we lift up names and events for prayer before heading back into our work-a-day lives. It is, most likely, the most important thing I do all week.

It is also most likely what I love the most about church.  It doesn't take a lot or preparation: I bring the bread, set the table and pour the wine. I light the candles, unlock the doors and turn on the CD (often quiet jazz or Gregorian chant.) I clean-up and lock-up, too.  We use the same liturgy week after week, making only minor changes for different liturgical seasons. And, to be honest, I am usually stunned that any body actually shows up. Don't get me wrong, I am totally grateful, but the fact that people make a point to be present blows my mind. I guess, like me, it is not only a grounding in a crazy world, but a source of nourishment in every sense of that word. My week feels naked and empty without being together with this tiny Eucharistic community. I feel lost, too without praying these words:

Leader: The Lord is with you.
Unison: And also with you.
Leader: Lift up your hearts.
Unison: We lift them to the Lord.
Leader: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Unison: It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Leader: It is indeed right, for you made us, O Lord, and before us you made the world we inhabit, and before the world, you made the eternal home in which through Christ we have a place.  All that is spectacular, all the is plain have their origin in you; all that is lovely, all who are loving point to you as their fulfillment. And grateful as we are for the world we know and the universe beyond our comprehension, we particularly praise you, whom eternity cannot contain, for coming to earth and entering time in Jesus.
Unison: For his life which informs our living, for his compassion which changes our hearts, for his clear speaking which contradicts our harmless generalities, for his disturbing presence, his innocent suffering, his fearless dying and his rising to life breathing forgiveness, we praise you and worship him.
Leader: Here, too, gratitude rises for the promise of the Holy Spirit, who even yet – even now – confronts us with your claims and attracts us with your goodness. Therefore, we join our voices with angels and archangels, who forever sing this hymn to your glory.

Holy, holy, holy God Ruler Almighty; 
heaven and earth are full of your glory, glory be to you, O God.
Blessed is the One who comes, who comes in the name of God: 
Hosanna, hosanna, hosanna in the highest.

Leader: Merciful God, send now in your kindness, your Holy Spirit upon this bread and wine and all of us that together we might be filled with the goodness of Christ Jesus. For now we remember that as Jesus gathered around a table among friends, he took bread and broke it saying:
Unison: This is my body, broken for you.
Leader: Later he took a cup of wine and after offering the blessing said:
Unison: This cup is the new covenant with God in my blood. Take it and drink to remember me.
Leader: In Christ’s presence we pray as he taught us.
Unison: Our Father, who art in heaven. Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

Quiet prayers for reflection

Leader:  In one voice we pray together:
Unison: Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, have mercy on us. Lamb of God, you take away the sin of the world, grant us peace.

Leader:  Beloved, these are the gifts of God for the whole people of God, so come for all things are ready.

So we come... if there are only one or two who are able to be present, we simply visit with one another - check in on our lives and talk about our sense of the Spirit moving within us - before praying the Lord's Prayer and breaking the bread and sharing the cup. Most of the time, we crack open new insights about where the Lord is moving in both the Scriptures and our lives. It is holy ground for me - totally without value or honor in the business world - a waste of time and resources. But I wouldn't quit it for anything in the world.  If you are free, why not join us?

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