Category Archives: Celtic Service

St. Stephen’s Celtic Service

Published in the November 12, 2014 edition of Seek of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri.

Over the last year, St. Stephen’s in Ferguson has been celebrating a Celtic Eucharist on Sunday evenings at 5pm followed by theological discussion during a light meal. This service is based upon the liturgy from the Iona Community, uses music from the Celtic tradition, and currently includes a short meditation from contemporary Celtic spiritual writers, such as those by Rev. David Adam, former rector of Holy Island, Lindisfarne, on St. Patrick’s Breastplate.

The service is held in the nave of the church, with dim lights, candles on the altar, and meditative silence interspersed between soft, lilting music and gentle words. The rhythm of the service is directed by the muted chiming of a bell, including the five minutes of silent meditation at the beginning of the liturgy. The service was designed to provide a restive, peace-filled space that many of us desperately need in order to enter the transformative thin place where heaven and earth unite in the liturgical space.

The meditation is typically three questions on the Gospel reading with time for reflection between each question. After the service, many gather in the parish hall for a light meal and theological discussion centering on the questions from the meditation. At the end of the discussion time, one of the discussion leaders collects the themes of the discussion into a prayer of the gathered community. Then [the] community prays the Lord’s Prayer in unison. Part of community formation includes setting out the meal after the Eucharist and then clearing the table and wash dishes after the meal.