After Communion: A Rookie Anglican Guide to the Post-Communion Liturgies

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What happens when a worshipper approaches God with faith in Christ through the liturgies of Word and Sacrament? What happens after we come by faith to receive Holy Communion? Anglicans believe that the worship experience has a transformative effect on the worshipper. The people of God are changed as they spend time in the presence of God together.  

The Post-Communion Prayer

The post-communion prayer takes everything we have received and, after thanking God, asks him to “send us now into the world and grant us strength and courage to love and serve…”

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Here is the text of the Post-Communion Prayer(s) from the 2019 Book of Common Prayer. The Anglican Standard Text option reads:

Almighty and everliving God,
we thank you for feeding us, in these holy mysteries,
with the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us, through this Sacrament, of your favor and
goodness towards us:
that we are true members of the mystical body of your Son, the blessed company of all faithful people;
and are also heirs, through hope,
of your everlasting kingdom.
And we humbly ask you, heavenly Father,
to assist us with your grace,
that we may continue in that holy fellowship,
and do all the good works that you have prepared for us to walk in;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit,
be all honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The Renewed Ancient Text option reads:

Heavenly Father,
We thank you for feeding us with the spiritual food
of the most precious Body and Blood
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ;
and for assuring us in these holy mysteries
that we are living members of the body of your Son, and heirs of your eternal Kingdom.
And now, Father, send us out to do the work you have
given us to do,
to love and serve you as faithful witnesses of Christ our Lord.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit,
be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

The food God gives us nourishes our souls so we can go out in his strength, serving him.

The Post-Communion Prayer reminds us and commits us to the fact that worship is not selfish. The Word fills our imaginations and heals our souls, and the sacrament given to our whole selves is a cup that runs over.

The Blessing/Benediction

The blessing is an ancient custom in which the bishop or priest pronounces to the people that God’s comfort, protection, and presence is upon and remains with his people.

Sometimes, the bishop or priest will use the priestly blessing from Numbers 6:24-26:

The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.

Often, the blessing will end with the following:

And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you, and remain with you always. Amen.

The blessing is a sacramental moment in that with raised hands and in a clear and robust voice (usually the same voice that bids the people to confess their sins and promises God’s forgiveness), the words are said over and to the people.

Indeed, this blessing is a short but essential portion of the liturgy in that, as fallen creatures, we need constant reassurance that God is with us. We need to bow our heads and turn our hands up to receive this truth and the assuring gift of his smile.

And truly, the blessing is, in its own way, a liturgical moment that imparts the grand extravagance of the grace of God to his beloved people.

We leave as “faithful witnesses” of his majesty, “living members” of his Body, and a people with the assurance that he loves us and always goes before us. We do not simply receive but are sent to give.

The Dismissal

The end of the service is really the beginning, as the Post-communion Prayer and Blessing imply.

That is why the deacon dismisses the people with one of the following dismissals:

“Let us go forth in the name of Christ…

“Go in peace to love and serve the Lord…

“Let us go forth into the world, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit…

“Let us bless the Lord…

The people respond:

“Thanks be to God!”

Therefore, the dismissal does not end with an “Amen.” It ends with “Go in Peace…” Worship has no end: we continue to worship as we go where we are called to go in the name of the Christ we love.

Photo by Cameralenta for Getty Images, courtesy of Canva.

Published on

March 10, 2013

Author

The Anglican Pastor

A classic resource from the founding team of Anglican Compass.

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