For over thirty years the ‘Green Book’ has been an extremely valuable resource for the Covenanted Churches in Wales: it has been used during occasional joint Communion services, and more regularly in Local Ecumenical Partnerships throughout Wales. It was first published by the Commission of the Covenanted Churches as a form of service which would be acceptable to every church within the Covenant, and it became an extremely familiar and useful booklet during that period; indeed, it has made an impact on the ecumenical stage much further afield than Wales.
There had been a feeling for some time that the Order needed to be revised and updated, and when the Liturgy Panel of the Commission was approached to prepare a new Order for the Gathering in Aberystwyth in October 2012, the opportunity was seized upon. This new Order is the fruit of that Panel’s work, and we commend it warmly to the churches. The Order itself follows the established pattern: the Gathering of God’s People, the Proclamation of the Word, the Intercessions, the Peace, the Thanksgiving, the Sharing of the Bread and Wine, and the Sending Out. Nevertheless, it does provide ample opportunity for spontaneity, and we have sought to avoid the temptation to be over prescriptive. As the Foreword to ‘The Holy Communion’ (1981) states: ‘What is obvious in one tradition may not be obvious in another.’ Above all else, we have attempted to provide new and fresh material.
As we approach God in the Sacrament we need to be mindful of the needs of the world around us and aware of the equality of each person before God, of the need for social justice and reverence for God’s creation. These are not peripheral matters but an essential part of our sacramental lives as Christians, because we continually live our lives in the company of Christ, bound together by his peace. All this is set within the context of the mission and unity of the church, grounded in the life of Wales.
We come together from various liturgical traditions, a fact that has been reflected in this Order. We trust that there is nothing within it which anyone would find objectionable on theological grounds, nor anything that jars in the setting of worship. Whilst we have been sensitive to both these points, we were eager to provide something new, which would on the one hand be worthy of our rich spiritual inheritance and on the other hand appropriate and relevant to this new century.
Finally, I should like to thank the members of the Panel for their commitment and integrity. We could not always agree with each other, but we pray that the end result of our deliberations and prayers might be acceptable to the various churches and a means of glorifying God in his Son for many years to come.
GLYN TUDWAL JONES
Chair, Liturgy Panel of the Commission of Covenanted Churches