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Throughout his ministry Jesus ate at table with friends, outcasts, and sinners. In his teachings he used the table as an image of inclusivity, hospitality, and God’s in-breaking reign. At his last supper with his followers he initiated the mystery of what we have come to call a sacrament—a sign of God’s grace. This is a Christian development of Jewish Passover and mealtime worship.
Communion is the simple and profound symbolic meal that these words from the United Church’s worship book, Celebrate God’s Presence, describe. Its basic shape has remained remarkably unchanged for millennia. Feel free to adapt the words to your context. Bread of some kind or something like it, and wine of some kind or something like it, are all that is required!
This is the place, and this is the time where God comes among us as love. God invites us here, and Jesus is the host – which means all are welcome!
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Giver of every good and generous gift, we gather here, grateful for the gift of this table, and this place; formed by human hands, and filled with your Spirit; this place of healing, love, and shared life.
We thank you for the gift of this place of gathering.
We embrace the gift of this time together. We are grateful for these moments gleaned from busy lives, to allow for a brush with eternity in this time of connecting our journeys and experiences.
We thank you for the gift of this time together.
We celebrate the gift of each other, joined with you in a community of life and hope, and joyful gratitude. Through our worship, through prayer and song; through these lives and their love; wrapped in this time and this place – we become ourselves a gift to one another, and to you.
And we rejoice!
Because of your love and nurture, we find a safe place in you, O God. You gave us your breath and your image; you speak to each of us by name, and wrap us in the warm embrace of your Mother-love.
We turn to you, O God, and in our living and our doing we long to follow your way.
Because of your invitation, through prophets and poets, through woman and men and children, we’ve found wholeness in you. In Jesus we have come upon you as one with us – in shared humanity and shared experience. In Jesus you have shared our suffering and struggles, our joys and satisfactions, in body, mind and spirit. In his death you have gifted us with life.
In his way of living in the world, his courage and his wisdom, we have come to know you with an intimacy that is transforming, and a love that renews us to see ourselves, and others, as you do.
You have filled us with Jesus’ vision of hope and community, which helps us make sense of life. In Jesus you have shown us how each moment of life can become pregnant with the potential for love and healing.
Enable us to trust, that as we live into the questions of our lives we will find meaning, and purpose, and hope for us and for the world. Walk with us, as we strive to make what we believe, what we say, and what we do, a single expression of faith. We pray in the name of the one whose life we share, Amen.
Breaking the Bread
In a moment that was fraught with tension and anxiety, Jesus gathered with those closest to him, to share a meal. Sharing that meal around that table became a living symbol for sharing his life with the world.
First, he lifted some bread and blessed it – Jesus’ words gave it new power: This is my flesh, broken so that you may be whole.
Then, as the meal continued to be shared, he lifted a cup and blessed it
– Jesus’ words transformed its meaning: This is my life, given so that you may have life.
As Jesus gave bread and wine to his friends, he gives himself to us in this meal.
In this time of quiet, Spirit God, may this bread which is broken become our wholeness.
May this cup which is poured touch our lips with healing. In this time when we feel the brush of God’s presence in love, may we believe that God’s justice and peace are to be shared with all people; that our hearts can bear the burdens of others; that we may bring joy to the lonely and suffering – for we are not alone. We have shared in this love.
(Simply break the bread in pieces and serve the person next to you, pass them the cup to drink from, and so on until all have been served)
Prayer after Communion
Thank you, God of love, for sharing in this meal with us, for sharing your life with us, for sharing your love and power to reconcile the divided, to restore the fragmented, and to embrace the rejected. To tell the story of a hope that is real when all are welcome and at one, where the world finds its purpose in the song of love that you sing, always. Amen.