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O Oriens: Reassessing Eastward Eucharistic Celebration for Renewed Liturgy

Stephen R. Shaver


Is an east-facing eucharistic celebration incompatible with renewed liturgy? In this paper I suggest that this ancient tradition has great potential precisely within the baptismal ecclesiology and participatory practice that are the hallmarks of liturgical renewal. I begin by investigating the connotations eastward prayer developed in the early church and reflecting on their value today. Next I explore the baptismal implications of a common direction for prayer and the openness—to God, to the universal church, and to the world—this can create. I consider the images of the circle, the line, and the arc in connection with this openness, which has implications for the servant ministry of the church to a suffering world. Finally, I suggest architectural and ceremonial choices to help disentangle eastward prayer from clericalizing practices so its symbolic power might find a place in genuinely participatory Anglican worship.

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