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The Kenyan Rite

A Eucharistic Service from the Anglican Church of Kenya

Last fall I happened to be traveling to Dallas, arriving early Sunday morning. My travel companions and I were encouraged to attend a local Anglican church, where we were blessed by the preached Word and the fellowship of the table. The folk-style music that accompanied the liturgy included some re-tuned traditional hymns and some newly composed, with each text thoughtfully chosen for its placement in the liturgy. The spoken words of the liturgy were profoundly fresh and opened my imagination to a broader understanding of my Christian faith and relationships with God and others. To my delight, after the service I learned that some of the songs were written by congregational members, often as a collaboration between retired priest Fr. Nelson Koscheski and millennial-aged worship leader Ryan Flanigan, founder of Liturgical Folk. Two songs sung at the service are included with this article.

The liturgy itself was from our Reformed brothers and sisters in the Anglican Church of Kenya. It’s based on the historic structure of the Anglican liturgy, but the Kenyan church contextualized it for its congregations, in turn helping congregations around the world gain a deeper understanding of the mysteries of our faith.

To further understand the nuances of this liturgy, its deeper meaning, and its connection to the Kenyan context, I encourage you to read JLS 50 Offerings from Kenya to Anglicanism: Liturgical Texts and Contexts including “A Kenyan Service of Holy Communion” (see sidebar). Portions of the commentary are included here as sidebars. This Kenyan liturgy has much to offer not only as a liturgy but as an example of contextualization. Note that we have not included all of its liturgical and seasonal options.

This was such a wonderful example of the beauty of the body of Christ all in one service that I simply had to share it with our RW readers! May you too be blessed. —JB

“The Church of the Province of Kenya (CPK) was founded on two books: the Bible and the Prayer Book. For many years we have had modern English translations of the Bible and in 1975 the CPK authorized a modern translation of the services of Holy Communion, Baptism, Morning and Evening Prayer.

“[Since 1989] we have a new liturgy of Holy Communion. This is not a modern translation or even adaptation of the old, not an importation of liturgical revision from the West, but rather a new liturgy which has grown out of recent developments in African Christian theology and liturgical research. It is both thoroughly biblical and authentically African, both faithful to Anglican tradition and refreshingly creative.

“The draft was prepared in 1987 and after two years of cathedral and college use, the Provincial Synod gave approval for its revision at a consultation of the Provincial Board of Theological Education in 1989, and publication. . . .

“These are the first fruits of liturgical renewal in the Church of the Province of Kenya and an exciting foretaste of the future new Prayer Book. As we use this service, and are fed by his holy Word and holy Sacrament, let us enjoy worshipping the God of our fathers, through Jesus Christ his Son in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
—The Rt. Rev. David H. Gitari, Bishop of Mount Kenya East and Chairman of the Liturgical Committee of the Church of the Province of Kenya, Advent 1989. Taken from the Preface as it appears in Offerings, p. 3.

The Preparation

At the entry of the ministers the people stand.

A hymn may be sung.

[The minister presiding welcomes the people using these or other appropriate words:]

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.

[A Scripture verse is read by the minister such as:]

The earth is the Lord’s, and all that is in it.
Let the heavens rejoice and the earth be glad.

[An acclamation should be said according to the season:]

The Spirit is here:
The promise of God.

Let us pray.

The people kneel.

Almighty God,
you bring to light things hidden in darkness,
and know the shadow of our hearts:
cleanse and renew us by your Spirit,
that we may walk in the light and glorify your name,
through Jesus Christ, the Light of the world.
Amen.

The Gloria

We stand to glorify the Lord.

The people stand.

[This version of the Gloria may be accompanied by clapping as explained in the sidebar.]

Glory to the Father,
Glory to the Son,
Glory to the Spirit,
For ever Three in One.

Be glorified at home.
Be glorified in church.
Be glorified in Kenya.
Be glorified in Africa.
Be glorified on earth.
Be glorified in heaven.

Glory to the Father,
Glory to the Son,
Glory to the Spirit,
For ever Three in One.

Hallelujah!
Amen

Clapping on the Gloria

“It starts at home and ends in heaven. The regular
three-beat clap, suggested in the rubric, is often used in political and fundraising events to praise local politicians. Here it is redirected towards the Holy Trinity. The clap is on the syllables Glo . . . to . . . Fath . . . and Glor . . . fied . . . home . . . etc.”
—Graham Kings, Offerings, p. 18.

Prayer of the Day

As we stand, let us pray the prayers appointed for today. . . .

The Ministry of the Word

The people sit.

[Two or three passages of Scripture are read, the last of which is always a gospel.]

Old Testament Reading

The Old Testament reading is taken from . . . chapter . . . beginning to read at verse . . .

After the reading:

This is the word of the Lord.
Hallelujah. Praise be to God!

Silence may be kept.

The Epistle

The epistle is taken from . . . chapter . . . beginning to read at verse . . .

After the reading:

This is the word of the Lord.
Hallelujah. Praise be to God!

Silence may be kept.

[A hymn, anthem, or psalm may be sung or read.]

The Gospel

All stand for the reading.

We stand to hear the good news of our salvation, as it is written in the Gospel according to . . . chapter . . . beginning to read at verse . . .

After the gospel:

This is the Gospel of Christ.
Hallelujah. Praise to Christ our Savior.

Silence may be kept.

[A hymn may be sung.]

The Sermon

The Creed

We stand together with Christians throughout the centuries, and throughout the world today, to affirm our faith in the words of the Nicene Creed.

The people stand and recite the creed.

The Intercessions

[Instead of or in addition to the following litany of intercessions, other words may be used, prayerful songs may be sung between intercessions, or people may be encouraged to join in open prayer. The leading of the intercessions may be shared among the people.]

Let us pray.

The people kneel.

May the [bishops and] leaders of our churches
have wisdom and speak with one voice.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May the leaders of our country rule with righteousness.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May justice be our shield and defender.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May the country have peace and the people be blessed.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May the flocks and the herds prosper and the fish abound in our lakes.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May the fields be fertile and the harvest plentiful.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May we and our enemies turn towards peace.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May the love of the Father touch the lonely, the bereaved, and the suffering.
Amen. Lord have mercy.

May the path of the world be swept of all dangers.
Hallelujah. The Lord of mercy is with us.

“In this rite, the line ‘May justice be our shield and defender’ is part of the Kenyan national anthem; the prayer that the ‘people may continue to increase’ was changed to ‘and the people be blessed’ since Kenya has one of the highest population explosions in the world; ‘fish’ have been added to ‘flocks and herds,’ for they are very important to the coast and in western Kenya and aspects of the lives of various ethnic groups needed to be included; the petition ‘may we and our enemies turn toward peace’ was added because Jesus’ radical call to love our enemies is countercultural to all cultures in the world, including the various cultures in Kenya. . . . The final petition reflects the naturally winding paths in the Kenyan countryside.”
—Graham Kings, Offerings, p. 19.

The Prayers of Penitence

The people remain kneeling.

Hear the words of challenge and comfort
our Savior Christ says to all who follow him.

If anyone would come after me,
let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me.
For whoever would save his life will lose it;
and whoever loses his life for my sake will save it
(Luke 9:23–24).

Come unto me, all who are tired of carrying your heavy loads,
and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).
So, all of you who repent of your sins,
who love your neighbors,
and intend to live a new life following the way of Jesus,
come with faith and take this holy sacrament to strengthen you.
Let us reverently confess our sins to Almighty God.

Almighty God, creator of all,
you marvelously made us in your image;
but we have corrupted ourselves
and damaged your likeness
by rejecting your love and hurting our neighbors.
We have done wrong and neglected to do right.
We are sincerely sorry and heartily repent of our sins.
Cleanse us and forgive us by the sacrifice of your Son;
remake us and lead us by your Spirit, the Comforter.
We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty God, whose steadfast love
is as great as the heavens are high above the earth,
remove your sins from you,
as far as the east is from the west,
strengthen your life in his kingdom
and keep you upright to the last day;
through Jesus Christ, our merciful high priest. Amen.

Thank you, Father, for forgiveness.
We come to your table as your children,
not presuming but assured,
not trusting ourselves but your Word;
we hunger and thirst for righteousness,
and ask for our hearts to be satisfied
with the body and blood of your Son,
Jesus Christ the righteous. Amen.

The Ministry of the Sacrament

The Sharing of the Peace

The people stand.

The peace of the Lord be always with you.
And also with you.

Let us offer one another a sign of peace.

The people greet each other with a handshake or other appropriate gesture.

[As the Holy Table is prepared for communion, bread and wine may be brought to the minister by the people or by his assistant. A hymn may be sung, during which the offering is collected. If there is no collection the minister bypasses the following prayer and response.]

All things come from you, O Lord,
And of your own have we given you.

The Prayer of Thanksgiving

The people remain standing.

We remain standing for thanksgiving and remembrance.

Is the Father with us?
He is.

Is Christ among us?
He is.

Is the Spirit here?
He is.

This is our God.
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

We are his people.
We are redeemed.

Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

It is right and our delight to give you thanks and praise,
great Father, living God, supreme over the world,
Creator, Provider, Savior and Giver.
From a wandering nomad you created your family;
for a burdened people you raised up a leader;
for a confused nation you chose a king;
for a rebellious crowd you sent your prophets.
In these last days you have sent us your Son, your perfect image,
bringing your kingdom, revealing your will,
dying, rising, reigning, and remaking your people for yourself.
Through him you have poured out your Holy Spirit,
filling us with light and life.

Special thanksgivings shall be said at this point when appropriate.

Therefore with angels, archangels,
faithful ancestors, and all in heaven,
we proclaim your great and glorious name,
forever praising you and saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.

[The presiding minister performs the traditional actions of taking the bread and breaking it, etc., either during the words of institution or immediately prior to distributing the bread and wine.]

The people remain standing.

Almighty God, owner of all things,
We thank you for giving up your only Son
to die on the cross for us who owe you everything.
Pour your refreshing Spirit on us
as we remember him in the way he commanded,
through these gifts of your creation.

On the same night that he was betrayed
he took bread and gave you thanks;
he broke it and gave it to his disciples saying,
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”

Amen. His body was broken for us.

In the same way, after supper he took the cup
and gave thanks;
he gave it to them, saying,
“Drink this, all of you;
this is my blood of the new covenant
which is shed for you and for many
for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

We are brothers and sisters through his blood.

We have died together,
we will rise together,
we will live together.

“With the phrase ‘We are brothers and sisters through his blood’ we come to the hidden heart of the prayer. In many African ethnic groups there is a traditional concept of ‘blood brotherhood,’ whereby friends bind themselves together, in a sort of covenant, through rubbing blood together from slight cuts in the arm. This concept here resonates with the new covenant through the blood of Christ and includes women. The phrase has a double meaning: through the blood of Christ, we are brothers and sisters with him and also with each other. This is underlined with the following responsive echoes of Romans 6:4–11: ‘We have died together, we will rise together, we will live together.’ The repeated word ‘together’ has a powerfully binding effect on the congregation.”
—Graham Kings, Offerings, p. 22.

Therefore, heavenly Father,
hear us as we celebrate this covenant with joy,
and await the coming of our brother, Jesus Christ.
He died in our place,
making a full atonement for the sins of the whole world,
the perfect sacrifice, once and for all.
You accepted his offering by raising him from death,
and granting him great honor at your right hand on high.

Amen. Jesus is Lord.

This is the feast of victory.

The lamb who was slain has begun his reign.
Hallelujah!

The Communion

The people kneel.

As Jesus taught us, so we pray:

Our Father in heaven, holy be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Do not bring us to the test,
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory
are yours, now and forever. Amen.

Christ is alive forever.
We are because he is.

We are one body.
We share one bread.

Draw near with faith.
Christ is the host and we are his guests.

“‘I am because we are. We are because he is.’ This reflected John Mbiti’s distinction between western individualism and African corporate identity. Mbiti, a Kenyan Anglican, who at that time was working in Switzerland, is a father of African Christian theology. He contrasted Déscartes’ ‘I think therefore I am’ with the African concept of ‘I am because we are, and since we are therefore I am.’ The draft took this further and extended it to refer to our dependence on Christ’s life: we exist because Christ is alive. In the revision process this was rightly considered too esoteric and it was changed to pick up the last phrase of the previous Lord’s prayer ‘. . . now and forever.’ ‘Christ is alive for ever. We are because he is.’”
—Graham Kings, Offerings, p. 23.

[The presiding minister (M) and assistants (A) receive the bread and wine. Then the presider holds the bread and one of the assistants holds the wine and they declare to the people:]

M: The body of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which was given for you,
keep your body and soul in eternal life.
Take and eat this in remembrance
that Christ died for you,
and feed on him in your hearts,
by faith, with thanksgiving.

A: The blood of our Lord Jesus Christ,
which was shed for you,
keep your body and soul in eternal life.
Drink this, in remembrance
that Christ’s blood was shed for you, and be thankful.

[As the bread and wine are distributed, the minister or his assistant may say to each communicant:]

M: The body of Christ keep you in eternal life.

A: The blood of Christ keep you in eternal life.

Each time the communicant replies “Amen,” then receives the elements.

[During communion prayerful songs may be sung.]

After Communion

The Sending

The people stand.

Almighty God, eternal Father,
we have sat at your feet,
learned from your word,
and eaten from your table.
We give you thanks and praise
for accepting us into your family.
Send us out with your blessing,
to live and to witness for you in the power of your Spirit,
through Jesus Christ, the firstborn from the dead.
Amen.

The Blessing

The people accompany the first three responses with a sweep of the arm towards the cross behind the Holy Table, and their final response with a sweep towards heaven.

All our problems
We send to the cross of Christ.

All our difficulties
We send to the cross of Christ.

All the devil’s works
We send to the cross of Christ.

All our hopes
We set on the risen Christ.

Christ the Sun of Righteousness
shine upon you
and scatter the darkness from before your path:
and the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
be among you, and remain with you always.
Amen.

“This [blessing] is based on an ancient litany of the nomadic Turkana ethnic group, from the north of Kenya. Its foundation as a curse on their enemies has been transformed into a blessing. Traditionally the Turkana, with a dramatic sweep of their arms to the west, would send all their problems, difficulties, and works of evil to the Karamajong, a nomadic ethnic group in what is now Uganda. When a group of Turkana who had migrated southwards became Christians, their Kenyan evangelist stressed Jesus’ call to love our enemies and suggested that instead of sending those things to the Karamajong they should send them to the setting sun [though still westward] . . . During the Provincial Liturgical Conference theologians from the dioceses in the west of Kenya complained, ‘Well, no wonder we are having problems; you are sending them all to us.’ A revision was called for. Since it began as a curse, curses in the New Testament were considered. In Galatians 3:13 Paul, writing about the cross, stated that ‘Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us.’ Therefore the revised blessing replaced the phrase ‘to the setting sun’ with ‘to the cross of Christ’ and the phrase ‘on the risen sun’ with ‘on the risen Christ.’ This has proved to be a very powerful end to the services as the people three times sweep their arms towards the cross, the only place in heaven and on earth which can cope with all our problems, difficulties, and the devil’s works. The physical sensation of movement, and the whole congregation joining in with it, are finally very moving.”
—Graham Kings, Offerings, p. 25.

Dismissal

Go out into the world,
rejoicing in the power of the Spirit.
Thanks be to God!

[A final hymn may be sung as the ministers depart.]

Quoted material in this article is taken from JLS 50 Offerings from Kenya to Anglicanism: Liturgical Texts and Contexts including “A Kenyan Service of Holy Communion,” Graham Kings and Geoff Morgan, eds. Cambridge, UK: The Alcuin Club and The Group for Renewal of Worship, Grove Books Limited, 2001. Used with permission.

Liturgical Folk

Liturgical Folk’s mission is to “make beautiful and believable sacred folk music for the sake of the world.” You can find more of their music on Bandcamp or Common Hymnal as well as on YouTube.