Thursday, December 22, 2011

Are You Sitting Comfortably?

I finished my Home Communions for the Christmas season today. It's a tremendous privilege to join with members of the church family who, through age or illness are no longer able to join with us on Sunday mornings in the parish church. When meeting with them, we obviously don't go through the full prayer book service, but rather it's a simple order - collects, Bible reading, short word, prayers, confession and absolution, prayer of consecration, taking the bread and wine, then joining in the Lord's prayer and praying the blessing on them. Very simple, but simply powerful.

The one element of the service that strikes me every time comes immediately after the confession and the prayer of absolution, when I without fail include the 'comfortable words'. These words of comfort and assurance (as An English Prayer Book puts it) are so familiar, yet get to the heart of what it means to draw near by faith, with the confidence of God's promise:

Hear what comfortable words our Saviour Christ saith unto all that truly turn to him.

Come unto me all that travail and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you.

So God loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, to the end that all that believe in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

Hear also what Saint Paul saith:
This is a true saying, and worthy of all men to be received, That Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.

Hear also what Saint John saith:
If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: and he is the propitiation for our sins.

This is the welcome we receive as we draw near, the reason Jesus was born at Christmas time, stepping into our world from the glory that was his before time began. O Lamb of God, I come.

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