About the Acts of Thanksgiving
Acts of thanksgiving, although stated as an integral part of our Basic Pattern of Worship, are an uncommon or commonly truncated element when Communion is not celebrated. Today is an opportunity to model and explore what these acts can be if you are not celebrating Holy Communion.
About the Invitation to Thanksgiving
An act of invitation to thanksgiving is probably needed in most settings, much as the Prayer for Illumination, to help transition the energy from listening, commitment, and prayer in the previous movement (Word and Response) toward the energy of offering ourselves to God in thanksgiving for all God has done and is doing and will do to save us and renew the universe.
The principles of transition are the same. Match the contents, volume, speed, and energy of what came before, then move them to what is needed for what comes next.
In this case, “Go Ye, Go Ye into the World” is already a rather energetic song, made more engaging if it has been sung in a round for the final verse. Still, it is a song of exhortation, urging people to act. Part of that action has been our prayers for the church and the world.
Now we move from prayer to thanksgiving, still in the spirit of going in the awareness that Christ goes with us. Exhortation (the song), prayer (the prayers we have just prayed), and thanksgiving are all different kinds of energy. Give attention not only to the words used in the invitation to thanksgiving, but to the kind of energy with which these words are spoken.
About the Pardon before the Acts of Thanksgiving
Anyone, lay or clergy, may lead an act of confession and pardon. If the leader of the act of pardon is the pastor, use “you are forgiven.” If the leader is a layperson, use “we are forgiven.”
About Serving Communion
One of the ways to maintain the flow of the service when you celebrate Communion is to ensure you have an efficient way to serve the elements. You don’t have to make people wait in long lines or for long periods of time in their seats. The typical amount of time for people to be able to receive both bread and cup without a sense of rush is 10-12 seconds. This means you can easily serve five to six people per minute. Calculate the number and placement of serving stations to allow all in your congregation who wish to receive to do so within five minutes, if possible.
A Note about Presiding
While this is Laity Sunday in The United Methodist Church, the special day does not change the work laity and clergy each do in the leadership and life of the church, established by both discipline and doctrine (This Holy Mystery).
Authorized presiders are clergy, whether ordained elders, provisional members preparing for ordination as elders and assigned to a particular local church, other denomination clergy functioning as local pastors or provisional members, licensed local pastors, or, in extraordinary circumstances, ordained deacons given authorization by the bishop to preside in their particular ministry setting.
A layperson or deacon may assist at the Lord’s Table by preparing the table, holding the liturgy book for the authorized presider, or leading intercessions if they are included within the Great Thanksgiving. The prayer is led by the authorized presider. It should not be divvied up among two or more presiders.