What is the result of worship? What happens when a worshipper approaches God with faith in Christ and receives from him in Word and Sacrament?
Anglicans believe that the experience of worshiping 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…”
Here is the text of the Post-Communion Prayer(s) from The Holy Eucharist, Rite Two, in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer. The first option reads:
Eternal God, heavenly Father,
you have graciously accepted us as living members
of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ,
and you have fed us with spiritual food
in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood.
Send us now into the world in peace,
and grant us strength and courage
to love and serve you
with gladness and singleness of heart;
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
The second option reads:
Almighty and everliving God,
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 that we can go out in his strength, serving him.
This prayer reminds us, and commits us to the fact that worship is not selfish. The Word that fills our imaginations and heals our souls, and the sacrament which is given to our whole selves is a cup which runs over.
We leave as “faithful witnesses” of his majesty, of “living members” of his Body, of a people with the assurance that he loves us and that he always goes before us. We do not simply receive, we are sent to give.
The blessing is an ancient custom in which the bishop or priest pronounces to the people that the comfort, protection, and presence of God 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:
“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 strong voice (usually the same voice that bid the people to confess their sins and promised God’s forgiveness), the words are said over and to the people.
The blessing is a short but important portion of the liturgy in that as fallen creatures, we do need constant reassurance that God is with us. We need to bow our heads and turn our hands up to receive this truth and to receive the assuring gift of his smile.
And truly, the blessing is in its own way a liturgical moment which imparts the grand extravagance of the grace of God to his beloved people.
The end of the service is really the beginning, as the Post-communion Prayer and Blessing imply.
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!”
So the dismissal does not end with an “Amen.” It sends 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.