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Not worthy to gather the crumbs from under the table

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Today marks the 457th anniversary of the death of Thomas Cranmer, who was burnt to death in Oxford.

Portrait of Cranmer after Henry VIII’s death by an unknown artist.

Here’s his most famous prayer — from a man who compiled books of prayer —that reminds us that relying on our self worth needs to be abandoned. Whatever we can do is never enough. As I say this prayer I am reminded that I am really unworthy. And how worthy Jesus is.

It’s called the Prayer of Humble Access and it was written to go before receiving the bread and wine of Holy Communion. It has saved many a person from taking part without thinking seriously about what they were doing.

We do not presume to come to this thy Table, O merciful Lord, trusting in our own righteousness, but in thy manifold and great mercies. We are not worthy so much as to gather up the crumbs under thy Table. But thou art the same Lord, whose property is always to have mercy: Grant us therefore, gracious Lord, so to eat the flesh of thy dear Son Jesus Christ, and to drink his blood, that our sinful bodies may be made clean by his body, and our souls washed through his most precious blood, and that we may evermore dwell in him, and he in us. Amen.

 

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