• There is a need to develop a non-communion family service on a regular monthly basis to encourage non confirmed families with children to participate in the church.
On this matter I have resolutely refused, as it is based on an assumption of faulty theology; and I will have no truck with it.
It assumes that the Mass cannot be accessible, and that each and every act of worship has to be at the baseline – instantly explainable – to be accessible. Where in that is the scope for awe, wonder, mystery, symbolism and a drawing close to the heart of the sacred?
For me, the Mass is a missionary tool. I point you to two books: Pete Ward edited the seminal book Mass Culture which places the eucharist at the heart of our evangelisation and explores how we might want to use it, as narrative, as mystery, as an exploration of the intimate relationship between God and his people.
Another book worth reading on this stuff is The Rite Stuff which has an excellent Chapter in it by Maggi Dawn. I sent her an email saying how much I liked it, but she ignored me; perhaps I’m too lowly for the likes of high-flying College Chaplains like her, or I’m simply not emerging enough. No matter, it was a good chapter.
What’s odd about these books is that all these post-evangelicals and emergents are saying “Oh look, ritual works!” Duh! That’s why the Church has engaged in ritual worship since the last supper! That’s why Zechariah censed the holy of holies and met with the Angel, and why David put on a ephod (a kind of hat) and danced before the Lord – it’s ritual guys, and we do it for God!.
The Mass is at the heart of this – “we break this bread to share in the body of Christ although we are many, we are one body, because we all share in the one bread”, and the synaxis of God and people as he hides under an ordinary piece of bread is nowhere more real.
If we offer non-eucharistic worship as some form of condescension, we are really saying the same as the deacon did traditionally before the synaxis in the Liturgy of St Basil “Away catechumens, depart heterodox!” and we keep this secret to ourselves rather than share it. I believe deeply in the Real Presence of the Eucharist, that by methods unknown, God transforms bread and wine into real body and real blood using me as a part of that mechanism, but I also believe that he does this to share – to come amongst us and to be part of us – all of us. I feel compelled to share the sacrament with everyone – I want to administer this sacrament to everyone, not just in Church but everyone – I feel compelled to stop people on the street and offer them “The body of Christ, the blood of Christ”, and then let God work in them. It doesn’t matter that many of them will not see it with the same reverence as me, the same theology as me, the same understanding as me (but do any of us have an understanding of this mysterium this sacramentum?).
But even in Church there are many who come faithfully week after week and will not receive. There are children who have a yearning for God in our midst but who are denied the sacrament (but any child who puts out their hand like little 2-year old V gets given a bit of her Mum’s host from me – I can see God calls her) by an old-fashioned guarding of the sacrament.
It is the sacrament of salvation, it is the mystery of God. Administer the sacrament, let God do the work, draw the people of God closer to the heart of worship and receive the body and blood of Christ, and, as the BCP used to say, be thankful.