When you come to worship with us at S Stephens, the most usual liturgy you will encounter will be the Mass.
There are various words that are used, seemingly interchangeably and sometimes people get confused, so here goes.
Mass – The name Mass comes from the ending of the Latin Mass – ‘ita missa est’ meaning ‘go the mass is ended’ and reminds us that the important thing is that the Mass empowers the Mission of the Church, it is not so much that we come to worship God, for that we do, but that we take his love with us into the world in which we live.
Eucharist – The name Eucharist comes from the Greek word for Thanksgiving – and the central prayer is indeed called ‘The Great Thanksgiving’, and reminds us that as Christian people we live in Thanksgiving for all that Christ has done and is doing for us.
Communion (Holy Communion) – This is a really important name for us as a community that places great emphasis on the Incarnation. God loved us so much in transgression, that He needed to be part of us, born as one with us, to live our life and die our death, that we might live with him for ever.
The Liturgy – although the word liturgy is used to describes worship services in general it seems often used with the definite article to describe the Mass. The word Liturgy comes from two Greek words ‘laos’ and ‘ergon’ meaning ‘the peoples work’. This reminds us that we all have a role to play in worship, (not just the priest and we all watch) as we offer ourselves (all we have been and all we will be) to the praise and worship of almighty God.
Typically we talk of the four actions of the Mass, where we take the bread, we offer the bread, we break the bread, and we share the bread. In the same way we are called to live our Christian lives, as we take our lives, and offer our lives to be broken in service, and we share our lives with those around us in service of the Kingdom of God.
The Passover Meal where the mass was instituted was central to Jewish life and faith. It remembered the journey into freedom. At the end of the meal the elder in the group would say to the youngest ‘tonight we have come out of Egypt’ The word used to describe this was ‘anamnesis’ which meant to call the history into the present (not simply to remember what happened – but effectively to call it into the present). As Jesus took the bread and gave it to the disciples he said ‘this is my body – do this as my anamnesis’. The Mass does not simply remember Jesus as the historical figure, but calls the Risen Christ living and active into our midst.
The great acclamation of faith following the words of institution are central to the celebration where we all say(sing) together, looking back, looking up, and looking forward