Monday, June 25, 2012

Missing Mass

Yesterday I ate and drank bread and wine at church.
I'm pretty comfortable with calling this the Lord's Supper. This is Jesus' table
I'm ok with calling this Holy Communion. We are united with Jesus and so united to each other.
I'm even fine with calling it the Eucharist. Take a look at the prayer book. It is one big prayer of thanks.

But personally, I'm uncomfortable with the word 'Mass'. Firstly, it sounds rather Catholic. And secondly, I don't really know what it means.
But perhaps we have lost something by losing the word  'Mass'

"The term "Mass" is derived from the Late Latin word missa (dismissal), a word used in the concluding formula of Mass in Latin: "Ite, missa est" ("Go; it is the dismissal")" .
Thankyou Wikipedia.

So essentially, to call church 'Mass' is to call church 'leave'.
Which sounds rather strange, but perhaps there is something to this.

A few weeks ago Rory Shiner had a post about forgotten ministry models. He traces how churches, under the impulse of the 'priesthood of all believers' have made the Sunday meeting the epicentre of christian ministry and service, rather than seeing the Sunday service as a resource that equips the saints for their ministry through the week.
The post is titled 'Go in peace to love and serve the Lord'. That is the anglican dismissal.(Not in the communion service, but in the other ones) It defines our missio. Now I don't know about you, but the dismissal in many churches I have been in is 'there is some morning tea/supper, please hang around'.
Combined with this is the sense that if you are going to love and serve the Lord, it will involve some Sunday commitment, or at least involvement in one of the churches programs.

In a similar vein, JKA Smith suggest that the constant tinkering with the Sunday service distracts us from getting on with the business of innovative mission. I don't know whether he has the figures to back it up, but the idea that there is one stream of evangelicalism hammering away at making the Sunday service new, fresh and contemporary; and another that is being refreshed by rich liturgy and getting on with serving people through the week rings true in my experience.

I lead a fortnightly bible study with a bunch of men. The bible study is held at another fellows house.
In his words "I love having you guys over, but I have a life" So, at a certain point in the evening, as we all stand around chatting, he will call out "Orright, everybody, get lost".
May we all learn from him

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