Eucharist: The Gathering - Page 3
The Eucharist begins with the Gathering, which is an introduction to the whole service. We’ll look at each part, starting with the Introit hymn.
In many churches, the Introit chant has been replaced by the singing of an Introit hymn by the whole congregation as the procession of clergy, servers and choir enter for the Eucharist.
The priest greets the people with hands held apart. One of the greetings is, “The Lord be with you”, and the response is “And with thy spirit” (modern language: “And also with you”). When you make the response you are saying, “I’m with you in everything you pray for”. For the Eucharist is something which is done by priest and people together.
From Easter to Pentecost, the priest also says, “Alleluia. Christ is risen”. And the people joyfully reply, “He is risen indeed. Alleluia”. (1)
In order to understand the Eucharist we need to remember that none of us is really worthy or fit to approach God. There is bad in the best of us, which makes us unfit to come before the all-holy God, who is as far removed from anything wrong as light is from darkness. And another thing we have to bear in mind is this: the difference between the eternal and majestic Maker of heaven and earth, and unsatisfactory people like ourselves is much greater than the difference between ourselves and say, a snail – except that we tend not love snails much, if at all, but God loves us more than we can possibly imagine and has given his Son to die for us.
That is why we do not come swaggering into church congratulating God on having such splendid people to visit him. No, we ask him to forgive the bad he sees in our lives and characters, and to have mercy or pity on us and to help us worship him more worthily.
Prayer of Preparation
So to start with we say the Prayer of Preparation (Collect for Purity):
to whom all hearts are open,
all desires known,
and from whom no secrets are hidden:
cleanse the thoughts of our hearts
by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit,
that we may perfectly love you,
and worthily magnify your holy name;
through Christ our Lord.