Thursday, November 29, 2012

Epiphany Reflections

Members of the Lutheran-Episcopal Coordinating Committee (USA) and the Joint Anglican-Lutheran Commission (Canada) have produced a series of reflections for Epiphany and the Sundays that follow.  Each reflection is brief and concludes with a prayer.  They can easily be included in parish bulletins.

Click here to go to obtain access to the files.

Pray Without Ceasing: Advent 2012

Dear Friends,

As part of a project I am working on for the Liturgy Task Force of the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, I am preparing a draft daily prayer book.  Some of you have seen and used previous editions, but I am now posting a link with the new Advent morning and evening prayer services.

I invite you to use these and to send any comments to me at  Please indicate in the subject line that you are sending a comment regarding the daily prayer resources.

Here is the link:

Blessings to you all,


Monday, November 26, 2012

Rite for the Re-Committal of Remains

Prayers at the Re-Committal of a Body
November 2012

Opening Sentences

When the people are gathered at the grave, the Presiding Minister says the following Sentences.

The souls of the righteous are in your hands, O God, *
            and no torment will ever touch them.
In the eyes of the foolish they seemed to have died, *
            and their departure was thought to be a disaster,
and their going from us to be their destruction; *
            but they are at peace.
Those who trust in you will understand truth, *
            and the faithful will abide with you in love,
because grace and mercy are upon your holy ones, *
            and you watch over your elect.[i]  Wisdom 3.1-3, 9

Opening Prayer

After the Sentences the following Prayer is said or sung by the Presiding Minister.

Let us pray.

O God,
our Lord and heavenly Father,
we give thanks for the life
you have breathed into humanity,
and we remember before you the life of N,
who has gone before us to your nearer presence.

As his/her mortal remains are returned to their place of rest,
we put our trust in you.
May those who bear responsibility for this process
show care and compassion,
and be given wisdom and skill,
so that N ’s journey’s end may be reached
safe in your presence.

In your great mercy comfort those who grieve,
and grant that all who look to you
may continually grow in hope and faith
until they come to know the fullness of your love
in the glory of your eternal kingdom,
where all your children rejoice in your holy presence for ever;
through your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.  Amen.[ii]

A Short Reading from the Scriptures

After the Opening Prayer the Presiding Minister or a Member of the Family or a Friend may read the following Reading or other appropriate text from the Scriptures.

            [Jesus said to his disciples,] “Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Believe in God, believe also in me.  In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.  If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.”  John 14.1-3

After the Reading the following may be said or sung.

Here what the Spirit is saying to the church.
Thanks be to God.

Re-Committal of the Body to its Resting Place

The remains are placed in the grave.  The Presiding Minister then re-commits the remains saying,

Our brother/sister N was entrusted to the mercy of God
and laid to rest in the hope of the resurrection.
We now re-commit his/her body to its resting place
and pray that he/she may rest undisturbed
until the fullness of the resurrection
when Christ shall gather all his saints
to reign with him in glory for ever.  Amen.[iii]

Members of the Family and Friends may place soil in the grave or other signs of their affection.

Prayers after the Re-Committal

The Presiding Minister then says or sings the following Prayer.

Let us pray.

Heavenly Father,
you alone can heal our broken hearts;
you alone can wipe away the tears
that well up inside us;
you alone can give us the peace we need;
you alone can strengthen us to carry on.
We ask you to be near those whose grief
has been renewed by events beyond their control.
Assure them that with you nothing is wasted or incomplete,
and uphold them with your tender love.
Supported by your strength,
may our love for one another be deepened
by the knowledge of your love for us all.  Amen.[iv]

Gathering all our cares into one, let us pray as our Saviour taught us,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever. Amen.
And now, as our Saviour Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,
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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.


Rest eternal grant to him/her, O Lord.
And let light perpetual shine upon him/her.

May his/her soul,
and the souls of all the departed,
through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
Thanks be to God.

[i] Wisdom 3.1-3, 9 emended for inclusive language by R. G. Leggett.

[ii] ‘Exhumation Prayer’ found at on 24 November 2012 and altered by R. G. Leggett.

[iii] Common Worship:  Pastoral Services (2000), 314 altered by R. G. Leggett.

[iv] Common Worship:  Pastoral Services (2000), 309 altered by R. G. Leggett.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

How Can We Keep from Singing?

RCL Proper 34C:  The Reign of Christ
25 November 2012

Saint Faith’s Anglican Church
Vancouver BC

2 Samuel 23.1-7; Psalm 132.1-12 [13-18]; Revelation 1.4b-8; John 18.33-37 [38]
            Twenty years ago this weekend I was leading a worship workshop in a local parish.  This parish had a significant number of recent members who had little to no knowledge of the Anglican tradition.  The parish leadership thought that a workshop on worship would be one stage in helping this community grow in its understanding of how its distinctive character could be expressed within the parameters of Anglican thought and practice.

            One of the things that I was trying to do was to show them that the lectionary was not a weight around their neck.  I worked with them on the concept of ‘proclamation’ by noting that we speak of the ‘proclamation of the Word’ not the ‘readings’.  In other words, I pointed out to them that the Word of God could be proclaimed in word and song, in dance and drama, in ways that would enhance the possibility that the Word would actually touch those who heard.

            So in planning the Sunday liturgy I asked them to include one additional verse in the selection from the gospel according to John:  “Pilate asked him, ‘What is truth?’”  (John 18.38)  I then had them set up the reading as ‘reader’s theatre’ where three voices would narrate the story:  a narrator, Jesus and Pilate.  They thought that this was great and the next morning the liturgy progressed well.  At the end of the gospel, Pilate’s voice duly asked the question, “What is truth?”
            I was sitting in the congregation.  I stood up and said, “I would like to answer that question.”  With this I went to the lectern and began my sermon.

            On this Sunday when we celebrate the reign of Christ, when we proclaim that Jesus, to the exclusion of all other claims to our loyalty, is ‘Lord’, the question, “What is truth?” rings as pressing as it did two thousand years ago in Jerusalem and twenty years ago in Vancouver.

            Those of you who participated in our inaugural book club and who read The Lemon Tree will know that the book is about truth --- but whose perspective on the truth?  Should we look at the events of the last sixty-five years from the Israeli perspective and celebrate the establishment of a modern multi-party democracy that shares many of the values of Canadian society?  Or should we look at the events of the last sixty-five years from the Palestinian perspective and lament the callousness of Arab governments toward the plight of the Palestinians as well as the continued loss of land, life and hope that seems to colour both Gaza and the West Bank?

            Despite the claims of religious and scientific fundamentalists truth is like a multi-faceted diamond.  We can agree that the gem is beautiful and that it exists, but when we try to describe the stone we will quickly find that our perspective will colour our perception.  This is not a counsel of despair but a reminder that truth is best discerned when we seek as many perspectives on the question before us as we possibly can.

            For example, as the early Christians began to develop the canon of the New Testament, they did not give into the temptation to preserve only one account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.  Among the competing perspectives, four finally came to be held by the various communities to be authoritative:  Mark, then Matthew and Luke, then John.  But even as these four gospels were enshrined within the canon, the tradition was careful to add an important phrase to each title:  They are the gospels ‘according to’, a reminder that they each tell the story from point of view of a particular author or editor who comes from a distinctive Christian community.

            But all four tell the story of a Jewish rabbi who was revealed to be not only a gift teacher and healer but ‘God among us’, ‘Immanuel’.  All four tell the story of a spiritual teacher who challenged the limits of his religious community and who ran afoul of both the religious and civil authorities.  All four tell the story of a man executed for sedition who did not remain confined to the tomb but who was raised and empowered his followers to change the world.

            What is truth?  The truth is that Jesus continues to inspire women and men throughout the world to work for justice and peace even if that work leads to persecution, imprisonment and death.  The truth is that Jesus continues to work through small communities throughout the world who are unwilling to accept the status quo and are willing to work to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and free those who are in spiritual, emotional and physical bondage.  The truth is that Jesus continues to reign in the lives of millions of people throughout the world despite the claims of political ideologies and economic systems.

            At our recent special synod on the proposed diocesan financial campaign there were many voices.  Some were little short of despair as they described the state of their congregations.  But these voices were, in my opinion, in the minority.  While they should not be ignored, they should not be considered the consensus.  In many and varied ways throughout the day I heard a more hopeful message:  ‘We have good news to proclaim.  Let us work together to proclaim it.’  In these voices I heard the echoes of our proclamation of faith:  Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

            As we approach Advent, I invite you to join me in answering Pilate’s question.  Let us share with one another our perspectives on the truth that we celebrate this day, the truth that “Since Love is lord of heaven and earth, how can [we] keep from singing?”  Let us speak the truth to a world that seeks truth, sometimes in all the wrong places.  Let us remember that the last word is not spoken by the Pilates of our world but by God.  And that word is ‘yes’; ‘yes’ to you and to me; ‘yes’ to all those who are seeking hope; ‘yes’ to the whole of creation.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Liturgical Ordo for the Reign of Christ

reign of Christ
25 November 2012

The Gathering of the Community

Processional Hymn

‘Lo, He Comes with Clouds Descending’  Common Praise #114

Introductory Responses

Splendour and honour and sovereign power
are yours by right, O Lord our God,
for you created everything that is,
and by your will they were created and have their being;

and yours by right, O Lamb that was slain,
for with your blood you have redeemed for God,
from every family, language, people and nation,
a priestly people to serve our God on earth.

And so, to the One who sits upon the throne,
and to Christ the Lamb,
be worship and praise, dominion and splendour
for ever and for evermore.

Hymn of Praise

‘Rejoice Today with One Accord’  Common Praise #318


Let us pray.

Almighty God,
you remembered the oath you swore to David
and so established a glorious realm of salvation
through Jesus of Nazareth, his heir.
Train our eyes to see your righteous rule,
that, standing firmly in hope
before the powers of this world,
we may heed your voice
and be constant in your truth.  Amen.[i]

The Proclamation of the Word

First Reading

2 Samuel 23.1-7

The Psalm

Psalm 132.1-12 in Songs for the Holy One

The Second Reading

Revelation 1.4b-8

The Gradual Hymn

‘Jesus, Remember Me’  Common Praise 634 (sung three times)

The Gospel

John 18.33-37

The Homily

The Affirmation of Faith

Let us declare our faith in God.

We believe in God the Father,
from whom every family
in heaven and on earth is named.

We believe in God the Son,
who lives in our hearts through faith,
and fills us with his love.

We believe in God the Holy Spirit,
who strengthens us
with power from on high.

We believe in one God:
the Author of all that is,
eternal Word of redemption and
life-giving Spirit of wisdom and truth.  Amen.[ii]

The Prayers of the Community

Intercessions, Petitions and Thanksgivings

The Exchange of the Peace

May the peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

The Holy Communion

The Offertory Hymn

‘Praise to the Lord’  Common Praise #382

Prayer over the Gifts

Shepherd of your people,
you guide all things through Jesus
whom you have exalted over all creation.
Receive all we offer you this day
for the creation he cherished
and that you entrust to us;
through Christ our Lord.  Amen.[iii]

Thanksgiving at the Table

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, gracious God,
creator of heaven and earth;
we give you thanks and praise
through Jesus Christ our Lord.
You exalted him as Lord of all creation
that he might present to you
an eternal and universal kingdom:
a kingdom of truth and life,
a kingdom of holiness and grace,
a kingdom of justice, love and peace.
Therefore at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow
as heaven and earth proclaim the glory of your name.

Holy, holy, holy Lord,
God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

Holy God, mighty Lord, gracious Father:
Endless is your mercy and eternal your reign.
You have filled all creation with light and life;
heaven and earth are full of your glory.

We praise you for the grace shown to your people in every age:
the promise to Israel, the rescue from Egypt,
the gift of the promised land, the words of the prophets;
and, at this end of all the ages, the gift of your Son,
who proclaimed the good news in word and deed
and was obedient to your will, even to giving his life.

In the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,
and gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this for the remembrance of me.

For as often as we eat of this bread and drink from this cup,
we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Christ has died.  Christ is risen.  Christ will come again.

Therefore, O God, with this bread and cup
we remember the life our Lord offered for us.
And, believing the witness of his resurrection,
we await his coming in power to share with us
the great and promised feast.
Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus.

Send now, we pray, your Holy Spirit,
that we who share in Christ’s body and blood
may live to the praise of your glory
and receive our inheritance with all your saints in light.
Amen.  Come, Holy Spirit.

Join our prayers with those of your servants of every time and place,
and unite them with the ceaseless petitions of our great high priest
until he comes as victorious Lord of all.

Through him, with him, in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honour is yours, almighty Father, now and for ever.

The Lord’s Prayer

As our Saviour taught us, let us pray,
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and for ever.  Amen.

The Breaking of the Bread

We break the bread of life,
and that life is the light of the world.
God here among us,
light in the midst of us,
bring us to light and life.

The gifts of God for the people of God.
Thanks be to God.

The Communion

Communion Hymn

‘For the Bread Which You Have Broken’  Common Praise #74

The Sending Forth of the Community

Prayer after Communion

God of justice and mercy,
gather into Christ’s holy reign
the broken, the sorrowing and the sinner,
that all may know
wholeness, joy and forgiveness.
Blessed are you for ever and ever.  Amen.[v]

Glory to God,
whose power, working in us,
can do infinitely more
than we can ask or imagine.
Glory to God from generation to generation,
in the Church and in Christ Jesus,
for ever and ever.  Amen.

Closing Hymn

‘Rejoice, the Lord Is King’  Common Praise #379


Priestly people of God,
go forth to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God.


Any liturgical elements not noted here are taken from ‘The Holy Eucharist’ in The Book of Alternative Services, p. 185 ff.

[i] Scripture Prayer for Reign of Christ Year B in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002), 217.

[ii] Affirmation of Faith 7 from Common Worship (2000), 148 alt.

[iii] Intercessory Prayer for Reign of Christ in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002), 216 alt.

[iv] Thanksgiving at the Table VI in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), 66, with the Eucharistic Preface for the Last Sunday after Pentecost:  The Reign of Christ from The Book of Alternative Services (1985), 223.

[v] Thematic Prayer for Reign of Christ in Revised Common Lectionary Prayers (2002), 216 alt.