‘Draw near with faith’

I was brought up with the 1962 Book of Common Prayer (BCP). I was, as they say, “steeped in it,” so steeped that some of its prayers, sentences and phrases are etched on my soul, and I pray they never fade.

One of the texts of which I speak is what is commonly known as “The Invitation” to Holy Communion:

“Ye that do truly and earnestly 
repent you of your sins, and are in love and charity with your neighbours, and intend to lead the new life, following the commandments of God, and walking from henceforth in his holy ways: Draw near with faith, and take this holy Sacrament 
to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, meekly kneeling upon your knees” —BCP,
 p. 76.

For me, this is the essence of a call to a good and holy life. During Lent, I find it especially helpful as a good framework for shaping some disciplines intended for renewing my relationships with others in Christ.

With this vintage text in one hand, 
I have found myself, in recent years, reaching with the other for a modern text that I have come to deeply appreciate as well. It is the work of hymn writer John Bell. Titled “Before I Take the Body of My Lord” (Common Praise, #610), it too is a call to self-examination and confession.
 It calls me to “lay down” every attitude and action, every thought and word
 that hinders a faithful response to God’s call to be “in love and charity with my neighbours.” It is actually a prayer best sung quietly just before I make my way
 to receive the spiritual food of the most precious Body and Blood of our Saviour Jesus Christ. It humbles me to be a more fit partaker of this blessed meal, which we know as the Lord’s Supper.

In truth, that invitation and this Care wonderful companions for a spiritual habit, not only through these days of Lent, but through all the days of my life.

What do you think?

Fred Hiltz

Archbishop Fred Hiltz is primate of the Anglican Church of Canada.
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Anglican Journal News, February 27, 2018

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