One of the things that have occupied me lately was preparing to "teach" a 90-minute class at Augusburg College on "liturgical spirituality." A friend teaches courses on spirituality -- Brad Holt, who has just released the second edition of his book, Thirsty for God: A Brief History of Christian Spirituality, which you can check out here. Since liturgy is my first love in theology, for a myriad of reasons, that was a real kick. I was required to summarize what I mean by "liturgical," to outline the strengths of a liturgical worship "style," and to show how that carries over into a set of personal spiritual and devotional practices. My friend Daniel noted that I probably didn't even notes for that, and I responded that I had to script the blessed thing or I never would have gotten to the point. (I'm not the world's most organized thinker, and I am easily distracted.)
So that took me away from blogging for a time.
I'm also studying Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I can't get around to saying what I find so wonderful about his book Discipleship, although if you check out the blog for the group of us who meet regularly for theological discussion, you'll see some of my thoughts, and also some really fine commentary from people who live a little too far away to drive into South Minneapolis for the discussions. In addition, I am taking a five-week course at Luther Sem on Bonhoeffer's life and theology.
And, of course it's now Holy Week. I always try to clean my spiritual house during Holy Week, taking on a more serious discipline that I practice during the rest of the year.
The upshot is that I'll be back soon with some questions. I find it really necessary to get a better handle on the Lutheran doctrine of the two kingdoms. I'm not sure I can subscribe that the way it is usually presented. It seems way too dualistic either for my taste or for my understanding of Luther. But that latter problem may be the result of reading too much Hauerwas and evangelical Christians.
For now, and with some blushing, I wish you a Blessed Pasch by posting a Great Thanksgiving (Eucharistic Prayer) that I composed a few years ago for use at the Easter Vigil of my parish, Mount Olive. I am honored that it was used last year again and has been requested for this year's.
I'm not satisfied with it, so every year a tinker with it, but I have not altered much of consequence -- perhaps this year I'll get around to a serious edit.
Anyway, if you have comments either good or bad, about what works or what doesn't and could be improved, I'd welcome them. (If it looks weird, I apologize. The text didn't import as smoothly as I hoped: I composed it in sense lines with lots of indents, and that all disappeared, and strange little commands that I didn't want appeared in their place.)
A GREAT THANKSGIVING
It is our duty and delight
always and everywhere to glorify you, Lord God Almighty,
and to glory in your endless mercy.
Before all time,
you spoke into silence
and called into being
all that exits.
Out of chaos you brought order;
into darkness, you cast light;
out of barrenness you brought forth fruit and fertility;
and out of the dust of your earth
you brought forth sons and daughters
to have and to hold,
to love and to lead,
asking only that we take our place
among your mighty creatures
as the crown of your creation.
When humanity rebelled and sought to go our own way,
you patiently disciplined us
and recalled us to our rightful place
in communion with you
and in service to your creation.
You raised up Israel,
sign and witness of your gracious intent.
Despite our dull eyes, dead ears, and disloyal hearts,
you continually called to us
by prophets and preachers,
in signs and wonders,
through exile and restoration.
At last, in the fullness of times,
you incarnated your Son in our flesh
and set him in our midst
to seek and to save all who are lost,
to speak and to show your love,
to promise and to plant your final kingdom.
It was He,
born of Mary and cared for by Joseph,
pointed to by John,
and followed by The Twelve,
who taught and fed multitudes,
received sinners and lepers,
healed the sick and raised the dead,
and opened his arms to suffering and death --
all in order to defeat death
and to put an end to sin.
It was He
whom you raised from death
to vindicate your love
to empty hell,
and to gather a holy people.
And it was He,
who on the night of his betrayal to death,
established this Holy Meal
to be for us
the institution, the guarantee, and the evidence
of your wondrous salvation:
broke it, and
gave it to his disciples,
“Take and eat.
This is my body, given for you."
In the same way, after supper,
he took the cup,
and gave it to his disciples,
"Drink of this, all of you.
This is the cup of salvation,
my blood of the new and everlasting covenant,
given for you and for all
for the forgiveness of sins.
Now, as often as we eat of this bread and drink of this cup,
we proclaim your salvation in Him
until He comes.
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
to claim us as his people,
to establish your eternal reign,
and to share with us the feast that will not end.
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
Send, also, we pray, your Holy Spirit,
to make and to enable us to see
this bread and cup
as the Body of your Christ and the cup of his salvation,
to unite all your people in faith and purpose,
and to make of us
a sacrament of your salvation in our time and place.
Amen. Come, Holy Spirit.
Look upon us with favor,
and at the last day,
to join the Virgin Mary
and Mary the first witness to the Resurrection,
the Apostles and prophets,
patriarchs and martyrs,
that we may then perfectly,
as we now imperfectly,
join their eternal hymn of praise.
All honor, glory, power, and dominion
are yours, Almighty Father,
through your blessed Son,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
now and to all the ages.
© Dwight J. Penas, 2002, 2005