“What Do We Do and Why Do We Do It?”
Part 6: Preface through Agnus Dei
In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
We are on our way to the high point of the Divine Service, for which the rest of the service has been preparing us. Nowhere else in all of creation does our Lord come to us as intimately, as physically, as personally, as when He gives into our mouths His own Body and His own Blood. If the Holy Spirit calls us by the Gospel, if we are baptized into the one Body of Christ for salvation, then it is here, at His altar, that we are renewed and strengthened in the unity of that one Body. Here He gives us forgiveness yet again and in yet another way. As we eat and drink the holy Body and cleansing Blood of Jesus, He makes us one with Him, and so we are one with His Father in the communion of the Holy Spirit. Here, as always, the action of salvation is Trinitarian, the work of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit together. As we are brought into this close fellowship with our Savior, we are, necessarily, brought into close fellowship with all others whom Christ gathers and feeds. St. Paul sums up our communion in both directions, with Christ and with other people, when He says, “This cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Corinthians 10:16-17, ESV). As this Body of Christ, this single and unified Church, we pray the Preface, which is probably the oldest and least-changed part of the liturgy.