As anyone reading this blog regularly will know, today is the day the committee meets to station those of us who finish our initial training to be Presbyters in the Methodist Church this summer. Anyone who read my previous post will also know that I had been working on a liturgy to be used this morning in the College chapel. It was a service of Eucharist that included vigil prayers for all those involved in this process – not just those being stationed as Probationers, but also the committee, families, those being stationed as Transfers from other Connexions, those already stationed, and those who will not yet be stationed even after today. I have had some positive comments back from people already and so, below, I offer some of the words I wrote, both for wider feedback and for wider use*. I offer them not as any claim of worth on my part but for the purpose that they were originally written – that they may be used in worship to the great glory of the God who calls us to follow him.
Prayer of Praise God of heaven and earth, we praise you that while we were still far off you sent your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ, Emmanuel. We praise you that the glory of his birth was not confined to those who were of right-birth and who kept your Laws, but was, instead, magnificently shared, through angels and starlight, with outcast keepers of sheep and the keepers of wisdom from far-off lands. We praise you that once a man he lived a full and vivid life, not simply amongst the clean and righteous, but amongst the sinners and the lost, calling to himself the fisher and the tax-collector, the lawyer and the sceptic. We praise you that, through the death and resurrection of that self-same Son, you have reconciled us to yourself, and through your Spirit have called us to follow him, and call him Lord. Amen. Prayer of Confession In remembrance of the wonder of a God who went, for us, so far as to be born a helpless babe and to die upon a cross, let us confess our sins. Holy and almighty Father, we confess that we have sinned in thought, and word, and deed. We have wandered from your path, we have put our own comfort before thoughts of your Kingdom, we have forsaken our neighbours for own desires, we have put down our nets, laid aside our crosses and failed to follow you. We are truly sorry, and repent of all that is wrong in our lives. We seek your mercy and forgiveness, that through your Holy Spirit we might be renewed with strength for the tasks we are called to do in your name. We pray this through the life-giving name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who ever lives to pray for us. Amen. Silence Through Christ God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven. Hear, therefore, the words of Christ: “Your sins are forgiven. Come, follow me.” Amen. Thanks be to God. Prayer of Thanksgiving 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. It is indeed right that at all times and in all places we should give you our thanks and praise, most holy and loving God. In the beginning you called the whole of creation into being, delighting in its goodness, and calling humanity into life as an image of yourself. Even as your people wandered from your truth you continued to call to them, revealing your way through men and women of prophesy, wisdom, justice and humility. Then, when the time was right, you sent your Son to be our Saviour, that through his words and actions your truth might be fully revealed, and that through his death upon the cross and resurrection from the tomb he might call your whole creation to you. Therefore with saints and angels, with the choirs of heaven and your whole church on earth, we join the eternal song of praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessèd is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest. We praise you, most holy and loving God, that on the night in which he was betrayed, while gathered around the table, with those he called friends, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take this and eat it. This is my body given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’ In the same way, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, ‘Drink from it all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.’ Therefore, in remembrance of his self-giving we offer you these gifts, and we offer you ourselves, as a holy, living sacrifice. You made us in love. You call us by name. You send us with purpose. Pour out your Holy Spirit, upon these gifts of bread and wine and upon us, that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ and that through them we may be united with him, with each other, and with the whole church, so that we may be one in your mission, and enter with your whole creation into the eternal Kingdom. Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all blessing and honour and glory and power be yours for ever and ever. Amen.
So, as I offer myself to God, to be sent wherever the Methodist Church discerns I should go, I offer these words to the whole church, that they may be used to the glory of the one we worship and follow.
Travel well, whether you know where you’re going or not,
*Please note: I offer them here solely for use in public and private worship with due acknowledgement (© 2011 Thomas J. Osborne). I reserve my rights as author in all other regards. Please do let me know if you use them for worship elsewhere, it would be great to know they are being used.