Volume 38 Autumn 2002
Sir James Alexander Milne Marjoribanks KCMG MA
The Revd Professor John Kelman Sutherland Reid CBE TD MA BD DD
The Very Revd William Boyd Robson MacMillan MA BD LLD DD
Barth's critique of sacramentality could help a recover and renewal of worship. Kierkegaard had seen the sacraments as disjoined from discipleship and ethics. Barth saw baptism and Communion as belonging in the sphere of ethics, and not as rituals, yet Communion was the 'action of actions' and should be celebrated weekly; it is the model of all true and faithful action, both exemplary and challenging. The church has separated holy from profane and the holy table from the table of everyday. The connection with the Passover Meal is noted and so also are the other meals of the gospels where all were welcome. The church is criticised for putting limits on participation. Communion is exemplary in its challenge to share, to serve, to affirm each other's worth; and it challenges the lovelessnesses and injustices of the world. It sets disciples free to allow grace to flow through them to the world. 'Holiness is a matter of delight rather than of effort'. The paper ends with a quotations from the hymn, 'O thou who at thy eucharist did pray'.
There is conflict today in what we sing, in how we read the Bibel, in our understanding of sacraments, in how we pray. Yet in these very divisions crossovers are seen, and there is realisation that we find what we need in the experience of other traditions. A faith and order project on baptism is outlined as an example of ways of proceding; we are not doing our own thing and it is wrong to think so. Diversity is in fact rooted in a high degree of unity.
This is a review of Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (Church House Publishing).
Presbyterian Praise, G D S Deans, Pentland Press 1999, reviewed by Charles and Alison Robertson