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Creative Ideas for the Family Eucharist: A round-the-year handbook and resource by Sarah Lenton

by
10 June 2022

Sally Welch welcomes advice on eucharists for a mixed age group

 

AT THE end of The Eucharist Step by Step, Sarah Lenton asserts that “you can run a service like this without losing any of the majesty and prayerfulness of a normal Mass — as long as it is performed with utter confidence” — a statement that is itself full of the confidence which is required if a family eucharist is to be attempted, as any veteran of this type of service will tell you. Indeed, the whole book is full of a reassuring certainty, which is clearly derived from the author’s experience and expertise in this area of ministry.

Straight-talking and entertaining, this book not only discusses some of the basic elements of family services, but also succeeds in communicating the profound gravity and beauty of a family eucharist that truly involves and engages all members of a church community, from the youngest child, who is given pram space, to the oldest, most dyed-in-the-wool congregant, who will also gain from the experience.

Sarah (for so engaging is her prose style that it is difficult not to treat her as a friend) begins with some basic principles behind working with children — all of which resonated with me and some of which I wished I had been able to read rather then been forced to learn the hard way through experience.

Comparing the drama of the liturgy to that of the theatre, she reminds us to end a sermon, the intercessions, or any other free-form section “the second you think you are losing them”, while also reassuring us that “you won’t get everyone’s attention all the time.” Her useful rule of thumb is that you get one minute’s attention per year of age — although I suspect that this works inversely at the other end of the age range.

Having reminded us that “professionalism, integrity and belief in the show are crucial to priest and performer alike,” she devotes the next sections to setting up for a family eucharist, and then talks us through it in such a clear and comprehensible way that this book should be used in every theological college.

The final and by far the biggest section of the book offers us 31 “scripts” for sermons. These are flexible, funny, informative, and powerful. They don’t require huge amounts of props, people, or special effects, but share the writer’s passion for the gospel in a way that can be taken up, adapted, and used in whatever settings readers might find themselves — provided they, too, arm themselves with the conviction and intensity that Sarah clearly feels.

I sometimes give away books that I am sent for reviewing. This one is a keeper.


The Revd Dr Sally Welch is the Vicar of Charlbury with Shorthampton, and Area Dean of Chipping Norton, in the diocese of Oxford.

 

Creative Ideas for the Family Eucharist: A round-the-year handbook and resource
Sarah Lenton
Canterbury Press £24.99
(978-1-84825-530-2)
Church Times Bookshop £19.99

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