Wednesday, 6 August 2014

The Didache

In the last post I referred to the Didache subtitled "The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles" not because they wrote it, but probably because it's contents are consistent with their teaching (a bit like the so called Apostles' Creed).  It has been dated as written anywhere between AD 50 - 120. Parts of it are said to constitute the oldest surviving written catechism. It has three main sections dealing with Christian ethics, rituals such as baptism and Eucharist, and Church organization. It is considered the first example of the genre of the Church Orders (bishops etc). The work was considered by some of the Church Fathers as part of the New Testament.

Here are some excerpts:
Chapter 15: Bishops and Deacons
1 Appoint therefore for yourselves bishops and deacons worthy of the Lord, meek men, and not lovers of money, and truthful and approved, for they also minister to you the ministry of the prophets and teachers. 2 Therefore do not despise them, for they are your honourable men together with the prophets and teachers.

Chapter 14: The Sunday worship
1 On the Lord's Day of the Lord come together, break bread and hold Eucharist, after confessing your transgressions that your offering may be pure; 2 but let none who has a quarrel with his fellow join in your meeting until they be reconciled, that your sacrifice be not defiled. 3 For this is that which was spoken by the Lord, "In every place and time offer me a pure sacrifice, for I am a great king," saith the Lord, "and my name is wonderful among the heathen."

Chapter 9: The Eucharist -- The Cup -- The Bread
1 And concerning the Eucharist, hold Eucharist thus: 2 First concerning the Cup, "We give thanks to thee, our Father, for the Holy Vine of David thy child, which, thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy child; to thee be glory for ever."  3 And concerning the broken Bread: "We give thee thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever. 4 As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains, but was brought together and became one, so let thy Church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into thy Kingdom, for thine is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ for ever." 5 But let none eat or drink of your Eucharist except those who have been baptised in the Lord's Name. For concerning this also did the Lord say, "Give not that which is holy to the dogs."

Chapter 10: The final prayer in the Eucharist
1 But after you are satisfied with food, thus give thanks: 2 "We give thanks to thee, O Holy Father, for thy Holy Name which thou didst make to tabernacle in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality which thou didst make known to us through Jesus thy Child. To thee be glory for ever. 3 Thou, Lord Almighty, didst create all things for thy Name's sake, and didst give food and drink to men for their enjoyment, that they might give thanks to thee, but us hast thou blessed with spiritual food and drink and eternal light through thy Child. 4 Above all we give thanks to thee for that thou art mighty. To thee be glory for ever. 5 Remember, Lord, thy Church, to deliver it from all evil and to make it perfect in thy love, and gather it together in its holiness from the four winds to thy kingdom which thou hast prepared for it. For thine is the power and the glory for ever. 6 Let grace come and let this world pass away. Hosannah to the God of David. If any man be holy, let him come! if any man be not, let him repent: Maranatha,  Amen." 7 But suffer the prophets to hold Eucharist as they will.

As I mentioned in my previous blog, from the very start the Eucharist was THE worship service of the Church.

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