Prayers · Worship

Liturgy For A Free People

This follows on directly from the previous post”Lessons For A Free People,” which I would recommend you read first.

I’m attempting to write a prayer for use at a service of Holy Communion, or Eucharist.
In my Anglican tradition, these are called Eucharistic Prayers, and follow a well defined structure that goes back hundreds of years.
The structure goes something like this:
1 Opening responses to affirm God’s presence.
2 Praise and Thanksgiving, usually with some reference to Jesus
3 Congregational response
4 Jesus’ words at the Last Supper, as he blessed the bread and wine that would be shared
5 A prayer that we may remember the death and resurrection of Jesus as the foundation of our faith.
6 The Epiclesis – a prayer to call down the Holy Spirit on those gathered for worship and the gifts of bread and wine
7 Prayer that we may be faithful in our desire to follow Jesus
8 Closing words of praise

Here’s my attempt to work with a similar, but different structure to write a prayer that is focussed on Food Sovereignty

We remember that God is with us, here and now.
We meet in the presence of the risen Lord Jesus
We open our lives to the Holy Spirit among us
We are gathered to give thanks and praise

You called your servant Moses
to lead your people from slavery into freedom;
You provided food for them
day by day in the desert wilderness;
And you taught them to live
so that none would be in need.

Often they forgot your ways
of truth and justice,
mercy and peace.
But time and time again
you received them back,
and taught them once more
to worship you in their works
and not just their words.

In time, Jesus came to live among your people
to lead them once more from slavery into freedom.
He provided for the crowd in the desert wilderness
when he took the bread, and gave thanks;
broke it and shared it among the crowd.
He reminded them of their calling
to practise justice so that all are fed.

Jesus lived as an example to all,
Reaching out to the poor,
The widow, the orphan and the stranger.
His death destroyed for ever the power of death
His resurrection restored our life

Lord Jesus, come now and bring your freedom

As we share this meal
we remember the last meal that Jesus shared with his friends
And ask that you send down your Holy Spirit
on us and on this bread and wine
that we may live in obedience to your law of love.

For on that night
as Jesus met with his friends,
about to be handed over to be killed
he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and said:
This is my body, given for you all.
Jesus then gave thanks for the wine;
he took the cup, gave it and said:
This is my blood, shed for you all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Blessed are you,
Holy and Mighty one
for through your goodness we now have this bread to offer;
fruit of the earth and work of human hands,
it will become for us the bread of life.

Blessed are you
Holy and Eternal one
for through your goodness we now have this wine to offer;
fruit of the vine and work of human hands,
It will become for us the cup of freedom.

Every time we share this meal
May no one have too much,
and none have too little.
And where we have allowed
the rich to get richer
and the poor to get poorer
may we act justly
to restore what has been taken away.

For this hope we bless you God.
Bless us now as we scatter
to share in your life,

wherever you lead us;
until we are gathered once more
to share with one another

what we have known of your goodness,
and remember again in bread and wine
Your gift for the life of the world.


Bible · Creativity, · Political

Lessons For A Free People

Since my last post, I’ve listened to more from Ched Myers on Sabbath Economics.

The fundamental thought here is based on a reading of the whole of scripture, First and Second Testament. (or Old and New)
Ched Myers traces his proposition back to the experience of Israel after being freed from slavery in Egypt. In the years that followed the Exodus from Egypt, the story describes how God provided for Israel through the gift of Manna. Each day this food would appear like dew on the ground. There would be enough for everyone. But they were commanded not to try and keep it overnight as it would spoil. Each day there would be a new provision. In addition, they were instructed that once a week, they were to gather enough food for two days, giving one day of rest each week – this was the Sabbath day. From this experience, they were to understand a new way of living that was not based on the predatory economy that the had known in Egypt.
The story of manna in the wilderness gives us three lessons for a free people.

Lesson 1. There is enough for everyone. No one has too much and no one has too little.
Those who gathered much did not have too much, and those who gathered little had enough.

Lesson 2. There will be enough tomorrow.
Abundance does not mean accumulation. Just because there is an abundance of resources does not give us the permission to keep on accumulating. An economy based on amassing more and more only leads to the more wealthy having control over resources which inevitably leads to inequality.

Lesson 3. Stop. Take a break.
The instruction not to gather one day a week was to do with stopping what would otherwise be an endless cycle of work and production, such as they had known in Egypt. The Sabbath principle was also extended to letting land lie fallow every seventh year, and after 7 times 7 years there would be a jubilee year every 50 years when there was a redistribution of land and wealth.

The commandment to keep Sabbath is instituted before the giving of the Ten Commandments. Then after Moses receives the Ten Commandments there is a reminder to keep Sabbath. In other words, the Sabbath is both the beginning and end of Torah. “It is the bedrock of a culture of restraint.”

Lesson 1 is about abundance – enough for all.
Lesson 2 is about avoiding the wealth disparity that comes from accumulation
Lesson 3 is about the need to challenge an economy that never takes a break, but rather live in such a way that in the long term wealth is distributed fairly.

In our world, we have forgotten these lessons, we just don’t get it. We do not live by these instructions, but live largely with an economy that is diametrically opposed to the principles set out for Israel in the story of manna in the wilderness … “our economy being based on private wealth, accumulated welath, and no limits to production or consumption.”

It’s interesting that these lessons are so foundational for Israel, and revisited by Jesus in the feeding of the 5000. This story in Mark chapter 6 also takes place in the wilderness (a remote place). It concerns food, and the need for all to be fed. Jesus turns first to the disciples, who immediately think of buying food (even though they acknowledge that solution as impractical, it is their first thought). They are short on ideas. Then, in Ched Myers reading, Jesus, as community organiser, sees that there is capacity there already and enables the food that is there in the crowd to be distributed so that all have enough. “Only cooperation can turn market scarcity into shared sufficiency.”

As Ched Myers traces what he calls “Sabbath Economics” through the pages of the Bible, we come to the account of the last Supper, where Mark records Jesus using exactly the same words as are recorded at the Feeding of the Five Thousand. Before the food is shared we read: “Jesus took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it … “

Surely the same words are used here to link the Last Supper with the Feeding of the Five Thousand. What Jesus is doing here is a final reminder to the disciples that this is how they are to live – by the principles that were first established in the Sinai wilderness.

And when we come to the account of the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, we see that they did remember … “All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” Acts 2:44-45.

So …..

An online group that I recently joined spent some time listening to Ched Myers, and thinking about ‘Sabbath Economics.” Among a range of subjects, including Food Banks and other attempts to promote food sovereignty (where everyone has enough) we wondered what a communion liturgy based on these principles might look like.

That’s for next time.

Grace and Peace

Please note. All quotations are from Ched Myers – Studies in Mark III: Sabbath Economics & Eucharist (Mk 6)
Go to the BartCast and look for Ched Myers Bartcast 05