Father pour out your Spirit on us
And the cup and bread we eat
Empowering our many tongues
In Christ as gifts of healing
To one another
That we may labour
With You for the world’s healing
From the hating spirit that causes
Inhospitality to foreigners
And fear of others
Different from us.
For the sake of Christ our King
And the coming of His kingdom.
A eucharistic Collect, in the key of Pentecostal fullness.
Sources of inspiration:
I was reflecting today on the meaning of “epiclesis”: the term referring to the eucharistic prayer prefaces Holy Communion. It is an ancient custom that has remained lodged in most of Christian memory, throughout Christian traditions. Through it, we calls on God for fresh comings of His Spirit upon His gathered people: “Pour out Your Spirit upon us.” It is the epicletic prayer and the Father’s continued response that is still creating the Church worldwide. It is the prayer that comes from encountering God at the altar of Pentecost; the altar of Pentecostal blessing.
As Simon Chan notes, “The epiclesis that presupposes the dynamic and continuous coming of the Spirit to the church— ‘a perpetual Pentecost’ . . . It is an acknowledgment that we need a continuous Pentecost . . . The church’s eschatological longing itself is induced by the eschatological Spirit in the church.”
Simon Chan, “The Liturgy as the Work of the Spirit: A Theological Perspective,” in The Spirit in Worship—Worship in the Spirit, eds. Teresa Berger and Bryan D. Spinks (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2009), pp. 41-57 (pp. 54-55).
But— as Matthew Myer Boulton exhorts us, many times our epicletic prayer itself needs the Spirit’s cleansing. Yet for this reason, God sends His sanctifying Spirit. The Spirit’s cleansing coming is the grace we need, and the grace God gives us. Boulton writes,
“ . . . the epicletic character of Christian worship— that is, the extent to which it takes the explicit or implicit form of epiclesis, a plea for the Spirit to come and be present to and in the worship service itself— should be conceived and enacted as a recognition of worship’s own destitution and malformation, its urgent need for the Spirit’s gracious, transformational presence.
Every epiclesis is an urgent call. Even and especially Christina worship requires divine deliverance. Without the ruah elohim, notwithstanding our ostensibly well-organized, well-executed liturgical proceedings . . . Christian worship is tohu vabohu. . . . The Holy Spiit can and does condemn it— but she does not merely abandon it to its self-imposed exile. By the grace of God she also ‘falls afresh’ on worship, as the old revival chorus goes, to ‘melt,’ ‘mold,’ ‘fill,’ and ‘use’ it in her own renewing work. . . .
In a word, she joins it: as a Comforter and Sustainer, to be sure, but also as an Adversary, a cunning opponent, a merciful foe, a prophetic challenge, a violent wind, and a purgative fire, blowing and burning away whatever chaff would keep her beloved children from life.”
Matthew Myer Boulton, “The Adversary: Agony, Irony, and the Liturgical Role of the Holy Spirit,” in The Spirit in Worship, pp. 59-77 (pp. 77).