Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Lindseys Communion Service

Theophilus Lindsey was an Anglican Clergyman, who like many other Latitudinarians in the 18th century church wanted a "broad church" with the abolition of the 39-articles. Sadly, he felt compelled to leave and established the first avowedly Unitarian Church in Essex Street, London somewhat reluctantly, hoping to always be able to re-join the Church of England. A good dsicussion of the "broad church" movement and its links and parrallels with Unitarianism is  Yesterday's Radicals  by D. G. Wigmore-Beddoes.

Presented here is his Unitarian version of the Communion Service from the Book of Common Prayer. Unlike the Communion service(s) by Martineau, it is simple and retains the poetry of the original source material; Martineau's service is rather high-brow and incredibly wordy! In fact, in terms of theology and Christology, Martineau's is far closer to the BCP than Lindsey's is, although in his introductory notes Martineau states that communion is a not an expatiatory sacrifice, but more a fraternal meal for all believers.

At first glance this looks and reads like the Book of Common Prayer....but on closer inspection it is very differant in theology, especially the Christology: Jesus was raised up to be the Christ and 'exalted' to God's right hand. He was not, therefore co-eternal and no co-creator. The Lord's Prayer is not said; the Ten Commandments are not read out; there are no prayers for the Monarch; the Creed is not said and nor is the Agnus Dei; the Kyrie is incorporated into other payers. There is not attempt at consecration of the elements and the communion itself takes the form of a memorial meal. It is interesting that the Minister is instructed (in fact underlined to emphasise the point) to face the people, rhhter than face the table, with his back to the congregation. Those elements copied directly from the BCP are highlighted in blue. 

The Minister shall say to those who come to receive the Holy Communion; the Congregation Standing:
Ye that do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, and intend to lead a virtuous life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways, draw near with faith, and partake of this holy ordinance to you comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God.

Then shall a General Confession be made  by the Minister People; to be said after the Minister, all kneeling:
Almighty God, father of the Lord Jesus Christ, Maker of All things, Judge of all men: We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, which we have from time to time comitted by thought, word and deed, against other Men and against thy divine Majesty, provoking just displeasure against us. We do earnestly repent and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of which is grievous unto us and unto others.Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us , most Merciful Father; forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee and all men, in newness of life, to the honour and glory of thy name. Amen

To be read by the Minister alone; all the People kneeling:
Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who of thy great mercy hast promised forgiveness of sins to all them that with hearty repentance and true faith turn unto thee: have mercy upon us, pardn and deliver us from all our sins, confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, and brings us to everlasting life with Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Here all shall stand up

Minister and People

Therefore, with they whole family in earth and in heaven, we extol and magnify thy glorious name, evermore praising thee and saying, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts; heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to thee, O Lord most high. Amen.

Here the Minister, standing before the Table, which shall be covered by a white cloth,  and facing the People shall read the following account 
1 Cor 9: 23-26

Then shall the Minister say the Prayer following; to be said by the Minister alone, all kneeling:
Almigthy God,our heavenly Father, by who gracious assistance and for our benefit, you raised up Jesus to be  your Christ, was obedient even to the death upon the cross; who did institute, in his holy gospel command us to continune, a perpetual memorial of his death; her us, we most humbly beseech thee; and grant that we may received this bread and wine in grateful remembrance of his death and sufferings, and of thy greaty mercy to mankind in sending him and raising him up to by they chosen messenger, to turn us from darkness to light, from vice to virtue, from ignorance and error to the knowledge of thee, the only true God, whom to know is life eternal. Amen.

Then shall the minister first receive the Communion in both kinds himself; and then proceed to deliver the same to the Congregation. And when he delivereth the bread, he shall say

Take, and eat this bread in remembrance of Christ.

And, when he delivererth the cup of wine he shall say,
Take and drink this wine in remembtrance of Christ.

When all have communicated, the Minister shall say the following; all the people kneeling or standing:

O Lord and Heavenly Father, we thy faithful servants earnestly desire they fatherly goodness mercifully to accept this our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving: humbly beseeching thee to grant that by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and obedience to they will, we may ovtain the pardon of our sins, and everlasting life.
Here we offer and present to thee, O Lord, ourselves, our souls and bodies, to be a resonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee. And although we be unworthy to offer unto thee any sacrifice, yet we besseech thee to accept this our bounden duty and service, not weighing out merits, but pardoning our offences, according to thine abundant mercies in Christ Jesus our Lord:: through whom all honour and glory be unto thee, O Father Almighty, world witihout end. Amen.

Then shall be said by all present, all standing:
Glory be to God on high, and in earth be peace: good-will towards men. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we give thee thanks for thy various manifestations of thy great glory, O Lord God, heavenly king, God the Father almighty.
We bless thee for sending Jesus into the world to be your Christ, to save sinners; for exalting him unto thy Right Hand in heaven; for all the gifts of thy holy spirit, and for the hope of eternal life.
For thou only art wise, and holy and good; thou only art the Lord; tho  only dost govern all things both in heaven and earth. Therefore, blessing and honour and glory and power, be unto thee for ever and ever. Amen.

A valedictory form of blessing may then be read by the Minister over the people.

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