Sunday, August 31, 2008

Towards A Better Understanding of the Prominence of the Epiclesis in Reformed Worship

It has been said that a seemingly insignificant butterfly, flapping its wings in Brazil, can cause a hurricane to happen in Miami. Nadab and Abihu’s seemingly insignificant misdemeanor causes them to be consumed from a strange fire they had started. In either instance, with the hurricane season upon us this time of year, it is interesting to reflect upon the actions of God. One can look to the past from the present to re-examine the manifold actions of the Spirit in history. The proper meaning to be taken from natural disasters, significant or seemingly insignificant, is that they are currently understood to be beyond human control, but are not really out of control in the fullest sense of the meaning behind control.

Some time ago it seems, a particular prayer offered to the Spirit in the Eucharist, the epiclesis, was a major worship theme. It was considered an important action because the epiclesis acted as a safeguard from a community or its representative claiming responsibility for an action of God. The epiclesis is also an important subject to describe the presence of Christ in and with the community.

To call upon the Spirit to act, through a prayer, so that the Supper is what Christ intended it to be, is what gives the prayer of epiclesis its fearful place of prominence. What is important about the epiclesis is that it underscores the utter dependence we have upon God for our participation in the history of redemption. The epiclesis also demonstrates that the action of God is not at man’s disposal.

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