Recently I was able to celebrate Sunday liturgy with a different community and had a good faith experience. So what did I find? Here is just a brief comment on the word of God, the prayers of the faithful, and the music.
Reflecting on the bread of life, the homilist reminded us that ‘we become what we eat’ – hopefully that doesn’t mean we will turn into chickens! It was quite a profound thought that stayed with me during retreat in the days that followed. What is our food – busy-ness, media, little quality time with others, the stuff of everyday life. How does this impact on the kind of people we are? What part does Sunday eucharist have in our lives as friends of God? God speaks a new word to us as community each week. This word invites us to reflect on how we are in the world, keeps opening to us God’s vision for the world, and strengthens us in our relationship with God and with one another.
The prayers were right on target, including the Lebanon-Israel conflict, environmental concerns, and people seeking wholeness in all walks of life.
I was reminded once again of the huge power of music. During the preparation of the gifts, the musician improvised ‘I danced in the morning…’, which was originally a Shaker tune –
”Tis the gift to be simple,
’tis the gift to be free,
’tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
and when we find ourselves in the place just right
’twill be in the valley of love and delight…’.
Improvisation can have a special, evocative place in liturgy (as indeed with ‘Veni Sancte Spiritus’ at the start of the Pentecost Synod last June). So too with the words used in the music, which are formative in our spirituality. The Communion song, ‘Come as you are’, captured something of why we come to eucharist – to celebrate the source and summit of our lives, to acknowledge our home is with God.
I always love to return to worship with my own faith community, a people from all over the world, drawn together by the need to break open the word and bread together. Breaking open the word, the prayers, the music – are huge formative moments as we journey together. There is some wonderful contemporary NZ music that we can use to help grow our sense of the intrinsic connection between eucharist and justice – but more on that another time!