A Guide to The Eucharist

This simple guide, explaining the Eucharist, is taken from a guide written by the vicar of St. Bartholomew's the Rev Michael Kingston and former curate the Rev Heidi Huntley, and originally took the form of a series of sermons. The Guide divides the Eucharist into four sections, each one relating to a sermon.

The high altar at St. Bartholomew's Church, Sydenham

Set out below are introductions to the four sections. More detail can be found through the links to the right.


This section starts from when we arrive in the building and takes us as far as the Collect.

You might think the Gathering is not really an important part of the Eucharist. But it is. Worship is the act of an assembly of Christians. But we don't arrive as a ready-made assembly, but as individuals. The Gathering is that part of the service that seeks to get us going as an assembly, at one in our purpose of worshipping God. And we need that because, although some arrive on fire with the Spirit, all prayed-up and raring to go, not everyone does!

We may have arrived anxious or stressed from something that has just happened at home or on the way. We may have an issue with someone in church and be apprehensive about seeing them. We may be complete newcomers and have no idea what awaits us on the other side of that red door. 

But we have all turned up. And as Woody Allen said; 80% of life is about turning up, and everything else flows from that. So if we've made it to the Gathering, we've done the difficult part. 

Follow the link on the right for details.


Word forms the part of the service that includes the readings from scripture, the sermon, the Creed and the intercessions.

'Word' has a dual meaning in Christian terms. It represents the written word of God, the scriptures, and it's also a term used to describe Jesus Christ. The opening lines of St. John's Gospel reveal this; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1). 

Follow the link on the right for details.


The second half of the Liturgy, called in the orders of service, The Liturgy of the Eucharist, given here the title "Table" begins with the Sign of the Peace and then moves on to the Eucharistic Prayer and the receiving of the sacraments in remembrance of our Lord.

Follow the link on the right for details.

Sending Out

The section of service that takes place under this title appears to be a tiny part at the end, but actually involves so much more. It takes us from the Notices to a final Hymn, Blessing and Dismissal. After we've received Holy Communion, we've heard the choir sing and anthem to enhance our thoughts and prayers at this high point in the service. We've paused in a moment of silence; the president says the post Communion prayer on everyone's behalf and closes off that part of the liturgy. 

Follow the link on the right for details.

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Explore A Guide to the Eucharist further

1. Gathering

2. Word

3. Table

4. Sending Out



Acknowledgements go to:

New Handbook of Pastoral Liturgy by Michael Perham. SPCK. 2000.

A detailed commentary on the Common Worship liturgy by one of the members of the committee which produced it.


Renewing the Eucharist. Volume 1; Journey. Editor: Stephen Burns. Canterbury Press.2008.

Titles were taken from four sections, by Richard Giles, Nicola Slee, Ann Loades and Mark Ireland. This is a more theological and revolutionary work that takes the reader into new and challenging approaches to the liturgy.



The Eucharist - A Guide

Useful Church Words