The Anglican tradition serves the Church well. With the three pillars of Anglicanism, Scripture – Tradition – and Reason at the heart of our Church we can enjoy the freedom of being a body of diversity which encourages inclusion and deep thinking. There is, of course, the same danger in our church, as in any other long-standing organisation with tradition, which is that we may become comfortable with what is familiar and be resistant when a challenge arises, to think or change.
In fact there may be many things that we say and do in Church which we might not think about, beyond the capacity to remember the liturgy by rote and the hymns by tune, where God is waiting for us to unlock the potential to take our faith beyond the comfortable and grow into a new way of being which is more life-giving.
A few weeks ago, I was challenged to think about a particular part of our liturgy which I had always just accepted. The part that it had not occurred to me to contemplate deeply, beyond my obedience in proclaiming it, (until a saint of the parish shared her own thoughts about it) is the mystery of faith.
The mystery of faith is a three-sentence proclamation, which we engage in every Sunday during the thanksgiving prayers of Holy Communion, after the institution of the narrative of the Eucharist. It is also called the memorial acclamation and is commonly said together with the priest and the congregation joining in:
“Christ has died. Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
Originally this came from the rite of St James, used in the orthodox church for centuries
“Your death, our Lord, we commemorate,
Your resurrection we confess and
Your second coming we wait for. May Your mercy be upon us all.”
It was only introduced to the Roman rite for Mass, where we (the Anglican Church) got it from, in 1969. Previously the people had only proclaimed the Sanctus (Holy Holy Holy…) and said ”Amen” after the final doxology, the rest of the liturgy was celebrated by the priest.
In the English missal the following four options were for use as the memorial acclamation:
1. ”Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.”
2. ”Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life. Lord Jesus, come in glory.”
3. ”When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we proclaim your death, Lord Jesus, until you come in glory.”
4. ”Lord, by your cross and resurrection, you have set us free. You are the Saviour of the world.”
The first of these should be familiar to you as it is the only memorial acclamation used in our prayer book in the Anglican Church of Australia. At the Synod Eucharist service last Friday night, the second mystery of faith was sung, which jolted me out of my Eucharistic rhythm and made me think about this memorial acclamation that I and all those around me are confidently proclaiming again and again. I encourage and challenge you in the coming weeks to ponder what these words which we proclaim, mean to you, as an acclamation or expression of your faith and what they say about who God is for you.
The Rev’d Jamee