Saturday, July 30, 2005

communion, grace and all that

There was a memorial service at husband's church today. The first part of the service, during the Ministry of the Word, was sad, with many of us reaching for Kleenex, especially as the eldest son spoke.

But I was struck, when we had returned to our seats after communion, how much the act of Eucharist had changed the atmosphere in the building. It didn't take away the grief, nor wipe out the sadness, but there was calm and peace among the assembly.

I couldn't help but think about the discussion about liturgy taking place over at Good in Parts. This congregation was well versed in the Book of Common Prayer, and the energy and attention they gave to the service, I think, is the kind that good Anglican liturgy aims for. Although I'm sure we all had our moments where we were lost in our own thought processes, as a body we moved together through the ritual. It was very formal liturgy: smells, bells and asperges, but I felt the presence of the Spirit. I don't have a lot of experience with less structured worship, but I felt something missing in the last two funerals I attended that were not liturgically based.

As often seems to happen at funerals, there was an unintentionally funny bit at the end where the question was raised, "how many Episcopal clergy does it take" to open the box of cremains. The answer, by the way, was "never send a priest to do the junior warden's job." Junior Warden to the rescue. I do believe God sends us these moments in the midst of grief as a sign that life goes on in this world, and that it all will be okay in the next.

May the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.


At 4:09 PM, Blogger bls said...

It's so true, what you say about Eucharist at the Burial Rite. I was struck by the same feeling of peace after Communion at the last service I went to.

I think it's a sort of re-affirmation of ordinary living, and confirms that "whether we live or die, we are the Lord's possession."


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