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It is a well-known fact that many a modern eucharistic prayer shows signs of handling the relationship between Supper and Calvary with due care, even with some creative ambiguity. For some, indeed, the very concept of offering is fraught with problems which can only be faced in liturgical formulae by having recourse to paradox. The bread and wine are on the table, but they are neither ‘offered’ sacrificially, nor are they ‘held back’ from the good purposes of God. The act of memorial is neither a re-enactment of Calvary nor is it an insignificant feature of the Church's life, as if all the eucharistic community did was to bask in the sunshine of Christ's single offering, and that is that. Yet many modern prayers are the direct result of creative movements such as liturgical research, patristic theology, and the rapprochment between the Churches that has been so much part of twentieth-century history.
Easter 1985 in the Church of England was a strange experience, resounding with the controversy which David Jenkins had begun the previous year during a television interview, after he had been elected Bishop of Durham. The scenario has been widely discussed by the media, by professional theologians, and by ordinary church-folk, north and south of the border. For the writer, it was the first Easter he can remember since being ordained when the resurrection was actually being discussed, not just in Senior Common Rooms, but in pubs. I was even taken to task by someone working in my local wine-store. In some respects, the furore was well summed-up in his attitude: he had long ceased to attend church, but shouldn't church-leaders believe in what they are supposed to believe?
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