Holy Things for Holy People
We're a prayer book parish. We use the Book of Common Prayer (1979) for the words we say, of course. But at St. Paul's, we also use the literal book itself—as opposed to printing the order of worship in new leaflets each week.
This weekend, though, we're doing something different. The Eucharistic prayer will be printed in the leaflets because it's not in the prayer book. In fact, it's not in any book.
Because I made it up.
At General Convention in 2018, we agreed as a church to begin using liturgical resources beyond the few that were previously authorized. It's actually church law that the words we say during worship—and the songs we sing—must be authorized by our national church body, made up of representatives from every diocese. I can't just lead our community in a worship service invented wholecloth; our prayer book is part of the glue that binds our tradition together.
Still, it felt a bit limiting, so General Convention agreed to open things up for a period of liturgical exploration.
In the spirit of exploration and experimentation, I wrote "Eucharistic Prayer P" (P for St. Paul!) and dedicate it to the children and youth of our parish. Our bishops reviewed and approved it, so we can now use it during worship. We'll try Prayer P for the first time this Sunday, 10/29, at the 10:15 service. (I hope dearly that the children in attendance will be in Halloween costumes in case we document the occasion with photos.)
By the way, anyone can write a Eucharistic prayer. It's not a priest-only thing. But each Eucharistic prayer does require certain elements: retelling the story of salvation, the biblical words Jesus used to institute the Eucharist, etc.
If you're interested to learn more, I invite you to read Eucharistic Prayer P and its introduction, maybe even before Sunday. It has notes about where I got the language, as well as the purpose I hope it will serve. You may even notice a "Yay God" in there!
Once we try this prayer out, hopefully a few times, we can report back to the bishops about how it went. Did we find it edifying? Did it feel faithful, even though it was different than what we're used to? Would we recommend it to other communities, too, or is it something that's particular to us?
I'm looking forward to trying out this experiment with you and hearing your thoughts.