Dr. Platypus

Home » +The Breaking of Bread

Category Archives: +The Breaking of Bread

Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

Wisdom from Chaplain Mike at InternetMonk:

[David] Manner is the Associate Executive Director for the Kansas-Nebraska Convention of Southern Baptists with responsibilities in the areas of Worship, Leadership and Administration. Before that he served in many congregations in worship and music ministry.

I like his list. A lot. I don’t agree with every point, and I don’t feel as strongly about some points as I do others. However, I think he’s captured a great deal of content in a nice, well-stated form that lends itself to discussion.

Here it is:

15 Worship Decisions We’ll Regret

1.     Dividing congregations along age and affinity lines.
2.     Eliminating choral expressions in worship.
3.     Worship leader ageism.
4.     Elevating music above Scripture, Prayer and the Lord’s Supper.
5.     Making worship and music exclusively synonymous.
6.     Trying to recreate worship with each new generation.
7.     Ignoring the Christian Calendar and adopting the Hallmark Calendar.
8.     Worshiping like inspiration stopped with the hymnal.
9.     Worshiping like inspiration started with modern worship songs.
10.   Not providing a venue for creatives to express their art as worship.
11.   Allowing songs about God to supersede the Word of God.
12.   Elevating gathered worship above dispersed worship.
13.   Setting aside traditionalism around the world but not across the aisle.
14.   Worshiping out of Nostalgia or Novelty.
15.   Worship services at the expense of worship service.

Chaplain Mike’s commentary that follows is well worth the read. It’s short, and it’s good.


Early Christian Worship

Larry Hurtado has made available PDFs of two new articles he has written for the New Interpreter’s Dictionary of the Bible, one on “Worship, NT Christian” and one on “Christology.”  Given his lament about the lack of enthusiasm for the topic of early Christian worship in the realm of NT Studies, perhaps he will be pleased to know that I’ve devoted a class day to the topic in my NT Intro classes for quite some time—and would do more if time permitted!

The Order of Christian Worship

Thanks to Chaplain Mike for laying it out so simply. Even a seminarian could understand it!

As “liturgical” as my current church thinks it is, it still doesn’t often move past the threefold revivalistic pattern Chaplain Mike describes. I would like to think that, as the “Invitation” continues to become abbreviated in our worship, people might start to decide that there really ought to be a good, holistic, Christian way to express our commitment to and participation in the Word of God we have heard read and proclaimed.

I’ll be there when they do. 😉

Worship: Nine Proposals (or Theses?)

Chaplain Mike reviews Robert Webber’s nine proposals about worship renewal some thirty years on.

Leonard: Forgetting to Remember

I deeply appreciated Bill Leonard’s testimony about his mother and her advancing Alzheimer’s Disease.

Each first Sunday, when the deacons bring my mother Holy Communion and read the words of Jesus: “As often as you do this, remember me,” the text and the ritual take on a whole new meaning that churches should confront as they care for those who no longer recall the old, old story. Since Lavelle and multitudes like her live in remembrance of no one, even Jesus, then perhaps the church — the community of memory — can believe for her, with her as she sings, and even cusses a little, all the way to the end. Let’s all try to remember that, as long as we can.

What If It’s True?

This is the best response to Harold Camping’s rapture-mania I’ve seen so far. The ending deserves a standing ovation:

But even if we assume that the 21st is the end, and there’s no need to maintain any savings to fall back on, is spending huge sums of money on billboards the best way to help people prepare? Sure, we’re all motivated by an impending deadline, but the Family Radio signs I’ve seen aren’t invitations to a relationship with Christ so much as they are warnings not to be left behind. They seem to promote repentance based on fear of what might happen to you if you don’t turn to Christ, rather than the loving relationship you’ll gain if you do. Essentially: hedge your bets.

So if not billboards, than what? Perhaps it would have been nice if Camping and his followers had used the money to hold a series of meals across the country, events to which everyone—young or old, rich or poor—was welcome. They could create a place where everyone had a chance to serve and be served, to experience community, to rejoice in the gift of this life and the blessings it offers. And there’d be pie. Lots of pie. I totally would have attended.

But, as it stands, I’m not making any special plans. If the world is still around next Sunday, I’ll maintain my usual routine of riding the 7 train past 5 Pointz and enjoying the view as I head into Manhattan for the 11:30 a.m. Mass. Because, although there is a discouraging lack of lemon meringue at my parish, I’ve found it is a place where everyone is welcome, where I am able to serve and be served, and I’m able to give thanks for the blessings in my life. Even without billboards, I’m reminded every week that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again. And I also get the chance to look around at my friends and neighbors and to recognize in them the ways in which Christ is already among us.

Well done, Mr. Weber. Well done. (H/T: The Anchoress)

A “Grail of Peace”

This story is too amazing not to share. The first chalice acquired for the first Baptist church in Tbilisi, Georgia, has been discovered almost literally in my back yard: in a closet in the chapel at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. This was, in fact, the chalice from the first Baptist church founded in the Russian Empire in the 1860s. Archbishop Malkhaz of the Evangelical Baptist Church of Georgia has graciously granted permission for me to share with my readers the email I received from him. It is reproduced in full below the break, with links added and some very minor editing. (more…)

An “Egyptian” Eucharistic Prayer

Here is another sample Eucharistic prayer, this time based on ancient Egyptian sources.

Opening Dialogue

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.


It is truly fitting and right, holy and suitable,
and profitable to our souls,
Master, Lord, God, Father Almighty,
to praise you, to hymn you, to give thanks to you,
to confess you night and day
with unceasing lips and unsilenced heart;

You are the LORD, you alone;
You have made the heaven and the earth,
the sea, and everything in them.
To all of them you give life,
and the host of heaven worships you.


You made humankind according to your own image and likeness,
and granted us the pleasure of paradise.
When we sinned, you did not despise or abandon us,
but you called us back through the Law,
you taught us through the Prophets,
you saved us through your only Son,
the True Light: our Lord Jesus Christ.

Through this bread and this cup,
in obedience to Christ’s command:
We proclaim his death!
We confess his resurrection!
We await his coming again!

Giving thanks through him to you
we offer this spiritual sacrifice
and this bloodless offering,
which all the nations offer you,
from east to west, from south to north,
for your name is great among the nations,
and in every place incense and a pure sacrifice
is offered to your holy name.


Fill us with your Holy Spirit, O God,
and these gifts now set before you,
That they may be to all who receive them
a medicine of life
for the healing of spirt, soul, and body,
and for new life in the kingdom of heaven.

Through the blood of Christ Jesus your Son,
receive our sacrifice of praise, and hear our prayer:

Remember your holy Church,
all your peoples and all your flocks.
Fill our hearts with heaven’s peace,
and grant us also the peace of this life.

Guide the President, the Governor,
and all who are in authority in all peace.
Bless our community and its leaders,
our neighbors, our families, and all that we do.

Send gentle rain to gladden the face of the earth.
Water its furrows, multiply its fruits.
Grant them to us for seedtime and harvest,
for the poor of your people,
for all of us who call upon your name,
for all who hope in you.

Give rest to the souls of those who have fallen asleep.
Remember our spiritual mothers and fathers everywhere;
and grant us to have a part
with [N., N., and] all of your holy prophets,
apostles, and martyrs.

[Conclude with one of the following endings:]



Receive our prayers
through your only Son Jesus Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit:

As it was and is and shall be
to generations of generations
and to all the ages of ages.

For you are above every principality and power
and virtue and dominion
and every name that is named.
Thousands of thousands
and ten thousands of ten thousands
of the hosts of heaven continually worship you.
Receive also our worship as we sing (say):

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of hosts;
heaven and earth are full of your glory.


Most of the earliest Eucharistic prayers did not have many of the features that ultimately became standard or even considered “necessary” for a valid sacrament.

This prayer is based on several such prayers known from ancient Egyptian sources. The main outline of the prayer and much of the wording comes from Strasbourg Papyrus 254, the oldest known example of the Anaphora of St. Mark. Its structure is praise-oblation-intercessions, rounded off at the end with a brief ascription of praise (in Jewish terms, a chatimah). The Strasbourg papyrus gives no evidence of Sanctus, institution narrative, or Epiclesis. Of the other sources consulted, I have leaned most heavily upon the Euchologium of Serapion of Thmuis and the final form of the Anaphora of St. Mark.

1. The “Praise” Section

The praise section contains two paragraphs taken from Strasbourg 254 and the Anaphora of St. Mark.

2. The “Thanksgiving” Section

This section is in three paragraphs. The first is from the preface of St. Mark, whence it probably came via the Egyptian Anaphora of St. Basil.

The second paragraph is an anamnesis or “remembrance” derived mostly from St. Mark.

The third paragraph is an oblation or “offering” which is a paraphrase of the original Strasbourg 254.

Strasbourg 254 does not contain an institution narrative and I have chosen to leave it out. The intitution narrative may be recited before the distribution of the elements. If you really must include the institution narrative in the prayer itself, it may be inserted between the first and second paragraphs of the “Thanksgiving” section (which would then read, “…your Son Jesus Christ, / who, on the night he was betrayed, etc. …/ Through this bread and this cup,” etc.).

3. The “Supplication” Section

The “supplication” is in two paragraphs. The first is an Epiclesis or invocation of the Holy Spirit. Since this is an “Eastern” prayer after all, it seemed appropriate to include an Epiclesis. It is fashioned mainly from Serapion and Egyptian St. Basil.

The intercessions abbreviate and paraphrase Strasbourg 254.

4. The Conclusion

Two options are given for a praise acclamation at the end of the prayer. The one marked “Doxology” is closer to the original Strasbourg wording.

The option marked “Sanctus” requires a bit of explanation. It has been theorized that the Sanctus hymn originally entered the liturgy in Egypt, and that it began its “career” as an ascription of praise at the end of the Eucharistic prayer. There are no extant documents that actually show this structure, and I personally am unconvinced by the theory. To my knowledge, Martin Luther is the first person ever to suggest concluding the Eucharistic prayer with the Sanctus. It is, however, true that later Egyptian Anaphoras have the intercessions early on, before the Sanctus.

I have suggested the option of concluding with the Sanctus because it strikes me as a creative way to re-insert a traditional element in a non-traditional way.

A “Hippolytan” Eucharistic Prayer

Here is a sample Eucharistic prayer based on the Apostolic Tradition and its later adaptations.

Opening Dialogue

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.


It is fitting and right, Almighty Master
to give you thanks unceasingly
for all your benefits
which you have given us.

Blessed are you, Lord our God, the Creator of all things.
All that you have made worships you:
the sun and moon and all the choirs of stars;
the earth, the sea, and all that is in them.

Thousands of thousands
and ten thousands of ten thousands
of angels, archangels, thrones, dominions,
principalities, and powers worship you.

The all-seeing cherubim worship you,
and the six-winged seraphim
which continually, night and day, cry ‘Holy.’
With them receive also our cry of ‘Holy,’ as we say:

Holy, holy, holy, Lord of Hosts,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.

Truly, Lord of Hosts, heaven and earth
are full of the holiness of your glory.


We give thanks to you, Lord,
through your beloved Son Jesus Christ.
In the fullness of time you sent him to us
as Savior and Redeemer and Messenger of your will.

He is your Word,
inseparable from you.
Through him you made all things,
and in him you are well-pleased.

You sent him from heaven into the Virgin’s womb,
where he was conceived, and made flesh.
Born of the Virgin by the power of the Holy Spirit,
he was revealed as your Son.

Fulfilling your will,
he stretched out his hands on the cross,
to release from suffering those who have believed in you
and to gain for you a holy people.

And when he was handed over to voluntary suffering
that he might destroy death, and break the bonds of the devil,
and trample down hell, and lead the saints into light,
and appoint a day for judgment, and manifest the resurrection:

He took bread and gave thanks to you, saying,
“Take, eat, this is my body, broken for you.”
Likewise the cup, saying, “This is my blood, shed for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.

Remembering, therefore, his death and resurrection,
we set before you this bread and this cup.
We give you thanks, not as we ought but as we are able,
that you have held us worthy to minister before you as priests.


Have mercy on us, Lord, and send your Holy Spirit
upon the offering of your holy church,
that he may show this bread to be the body of Christ
and this cup to be the blood of Christ.

Bring together in unity all who share these holy mysteries.
Confirm them in the true faith, forgive their sins,
deliver them from the evil one,
fill them with the Holy Spirit, and gather them into your kingdom.

(The following intercessions may be added, wholly or in part:)

May every sinful way may be driven out by the power of your name.
When hell hears that name it trembles:
the dragon is crushed, the spirits are driven away,
sin is cast out, disobedience is subdued, and every root of bitterness destroyed.

Grant, Lord, that we may see you with our innermost eyes:
to praise and glorify and serve you,
and to have a portion in you alone,
and in your Son, Jesus Christ, to whom all things are subdued.

Sustain to the end those who have gifts of revelations.
Confirm those who have a gift of healing.
Make those who have the gift of tongues courageous.
Keep those who rightly divide the word of truth.

Care for those who do your will always.
Visit the widows; help the orphans.
Remember those who have fallen asleep in the faith,
and grant us an inheritance with your saints.


Grant that, with one mind and one heart,
we may always give you glory and praise through Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit
forever and ever and to all eternity:



This anaphora is based on the one recorded in the Apostolic Tradition, as well as the various anaphoras that have looked to it for inspiration. These include:

  • The so-called “Clementine Liturgy” in Book 8 of the Apostolic Constitutions (ApConst, Syria, ca. 380)
  • The Anaphora of Epiphanius of Salamis (Cyprus, ca. 370-400)
  • The Testamentum Domini (Asia Minor? ca. 450)
  • The Ethiopian Anaphora of the Apostles (ca. 500?)

Almost all of the wording can be found in at least one of these sources.

Traditionally associated with the Roman presbyter Hippolytus in the early third century, more recent scholarship sees the Apostolic Tradition as a collection of diverse materials representing several geographic areas. A date sometime in the third century, though not as early as Hippolytus, is still a possibility. (See Paul F. Bradshaw, Liturgy 16 [2000] 7-11.)

I have re-cast this material into a tripartite structure with the most basic verbal cues used in the Jewish birkat ha-mazon or ‘table blessing,’ namely, (1) an opening section of praise for creation, (2) a section of commemoration of God’s saving acts, and (3) a concluding section of supplication (the epiclesis).

(1) The Praise Section: “Blessed are you.”

The preface and Sanctus are drawn from wordings found in ApConst and the Anaphora of the Apostles. The other adaptations of ApTrad do not attempt to include a Sanctus.

The line beginning “blessed are you” is derived ultimately from a line in ApConst, “glory be to you, Almighty God, for all things.” I have re-cast this line as a berakah to give the anaphora a more Judaic “feel.”

The introductory “it is fitting and right, etc.” comes from Epiphanius.

(2) The Thanksgiving Section: “We give thanks to you.”

From here on, the wording of ApTrad itself is followed more or less strictly. The original phrase “to establish the limit” seemed problematic due to its ambiguity of reference. I chose to paraphrase it “appoint a day for judgment” following the suggestion of R. H. Connolly (JTS 38 [1939], p. 362).

The line, “we give you thanks, not as we ought, but as we are able” is taken from the institution narrative in ApConst. It is such an fitting sentiment that I couldn’t bear to lose it. It is moved into the anamnesis to preserve the original introduction to the institution narrative.

(3) The Supplication Section: “Have mercy on us.”

I have elaborated upon the original Epiclesis with words or sentiments found in ApConst, Testamentum Domini, and Epiphanius. The opening words, “have mercy on us,” provide the last verbal cue to the birkat ha-mazon formula. There is precedent for the appeal “have mercy” in other ancient epicleses, for example, in the Jerusalem Liturgy of Saint James.

The petition to “show” the bread to be the Body of Christ, etc., is a literal translation of the original Greek ἐπιφάνη, “show,” “reveal,” or “manifest,” in ApConst and other ancient anaphoras.

The optional intercessions are from the Testamentum Domini. I have abbreviated this section and paraphrased a line or two.

Can the Blood of Jesus Make You Sick?

I don’t mean this to sound snarky, but I’m seriously confused by stories coming out of places like Palm Beach, Peoria, and Austin that their respective Catholic archdioceses are recommending worshipers not receive the precious Blood of Christ from a common cup, or at all, at the Eucharist due to fears over the spread of swine flu.

I’m confused because it has been my understanding that Catholics believe in transsubstatiation, the view that at the Eucharist the physical elements of bread and wine are transformed in substance so that they are no longer bread and wine but in fact the Body and Blood of Jesus. The outward “accidents” of the elements are unchanged (the taste, aroma, etc.) but the inward “substance”—what it really is—is transformed.

So, what does it mean theologically that germs can be spread through the medium of consecrated Communion wine? Can the Blood of Christ make you sick? The image that comes to mind is someone hesitating to shake hands with Jesus because Jesus may have shaken hands with someone contagious. I’m not sure what I think about that image, but I struggle to see the faith in it—Eucharistic or otherwise.

I can understand why other groups (the Austin TX article mentioned Methodists) would consider the possibility of contagion from Communion wine and take suitable precautions. For them, it’s still wine in substance and not merely in accidents. (It may be considered to convey the real presence of Christ, depending on the denomination we’re talking about, but the wine is “really present” as well.)

I welcome any clarification or correction from my Catholic readers. And yes, I will delete any uncharitable comments directed at any point of view concerning the meaning of Communion.