Liturgy in the Local Congregation XII

[Previous entries: I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI.]

The Sanctus (p. 26)
Here, we join our voices with heaven and earth, “with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven.” Holy Communion has long been given a timeless character in the Church. Here we have a “foretaste of the feast to come.” We speak with the fiery angels of Isaiah 6:2-3, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth [Hebrew for “hosts” or “armies”] Heav’n and earth are full of Thy glory.” The praise of God coming from these powerful creatures caused the doors and thresholds of the temple in which Isaiah stood to shake, and the temple was filled with smoke (Isaiah 6:4). The presence of the holy and almighty God is among us, and were He to come to us uncovered and unhidden under the flesh of Jesus, we would have to cry out with Isaiah, “Woe is me!”

The second half of the Sanctus (Latin for “holy”) comes primarily from the jubilant shouts of the crowd when Jesus entered Jerusalem on what we call Palm Sunday (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:38; John 12:13; also, see these words’ original setting in Psalm 118:25-26). “Hosha nah” (Hosanna) are two Hebrew words that mean “Save (us)!” or “Deliver!” (Psalm 118:25). When the crowds cried out at the entrance of Jesus into the city, they were declaring (perhaps unknowingly) Jesus to be the great Deliverer promised by the psalmist (and the entire Old Testament). He came in the Name of Yahweh in human flesh two thousand years ago; He now comes to us, both God and Man, as our Deliverer each time the Sacrament is celebrated. We praise in the Sanctus the One who has come and will come again (Revelation 4:8).

The Lord’s Prayer (p. 27)
The Prayer given to us by our Lord Jesus is found at different times in the different services (Communion, non-Communion, baptismal liturgy, etc.). In these different settings, the Prayer takes on different shades of meaning. At this point in the service, our prayers that God’s Kingdom would come and that His will be done are answered in the Communion. It is His will that the Supper be celebrated and given for the forgiveness of sins. His Kingdom does come and we who are baptized members of that Kingdom are strengthened by the work of the King. Here, our daily bread, more precious than everyday bread and drink, is the Body and Blood of our Lord. Just as we eat and drink for the health of our bodies, so here we eat and drink for the health of both body and soul. This bread and wine, united with the Body and Blood of Christ, are one of the ways given to us by Christ for receiving forgiveness of sins.

Once we have received Christ’s forgiveness at His Table, we go out to bring that forgiveness to others who need it. We are here given Christ’s own strength to resist temptation and in this Body and Blood we are kept from the effects of evil in Satan, the world, and our own sinful flesh.

[Timotheos]

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