Reflection on sharing around a table
People of faith understand just how sacred the act of gathering around a table for can be. It was around a shared table that Jesus taught some of his most important lessons, while in the process revealing the depths of both his divinity and his humanity. He performed his first miracle not at the Temple, but at a wedding feast in Cana where he transformed water into wine (John 2: 1-12). He subversively shared meals with sinners and tax collectors (Luke 5: 27-32). With his blessing over two fish and five loaves of bread, five thousand people were fed (Matthew 13-21).
Just as tables today can be the source of tension and fierce debate, the tables where Jesus ate were not devoid of conflict. In one of the more controversial moments of his ministry, Jesus shuns a Syrophoenician woman who seeks his help in healing her daughter. Despite his initial rejection, she nevertheless persisted until Jesus agreed to set her daughter free from her affliction. Their encounter has much to teach us about the risk of engaging across lines of difference. The possibility of being cast aside and ignored is always there, but so is the chance for true transformation when we see the “other” as part of our common story and collective life.
(source: Rev Jennifer Bailey, published on Patheos)
Craig Mitchell’s communion liturgy (between Palm Sunday and Passover) using ‘questions’ reminiscent of the Passover meal structure.
There are times when the story of our lives takes an unexpected turn
A new chapter that throws us off-balance a turn of events that leaves us stumbling, bewildered, frightened, and speechless
a shocking, unexpected loss
a close relationship shattered
a bitter reality revealed
an undeserved fall from grace
A time when all our beliefs are called into question
when friendships turn fickle
when every choice feels like a dead-end
when truth itself is played like a chess piece
There are times when the story of our lives pauses at a blank page
and there seems nothing to write, nowhere to go next,
no-one to tell, and no-one who cares
We all know times like these
we all carry their memory in our hearts
Today we gather in order to remember such a story of a week in which promise and betrayal, wild expectation and deep despair, firm friendship and fierce denial, go hand in hand.
In this time between Palm Sunday and the Passion
amidst cries of welcome and calls for execution
we place ourselves alongside the disciples of Jesus
who knew him well, who chose to flee
Today we remind ourselves of the unpredictable journey of those days
Let us step into the twilight of this story
trusting that light will be shed on the shadows of our own lives
hoping that things left buried might stir from their graves
and stumble toward a new dawn
What longings and yearnings to you bring to this Easter journey?
What temptations and betrayals might test your heart?
We invite you to glimpse and listen and touch and taste,
to allow your senses to be windows to a story
waiting to be written on your heart, mind and soul.
(note: the link gives information about the ‘stations’ people explored)
Let us accompany one another into this place
where promises will be broken
where truth will be compromised
where tears will flow
where a kiss means death
May we not look for an easy way out of this eventide
but learn to wait, to watch, to listen
to hope that that the night might reveal what the daytime conceals.
Why have we gathered here?
We come because we have been called to live out a story
What story shall we live?
The story of saving love
Where did this story begin?
It was whispered before time began,
it was sung in the melody of Creation.
Whose story is this?
This story is God’s alone to tell
It hums in the rivers and the trees
It whispers in the skies and the seas
It calls to the people of all places
It speaks in our hearts, in our lives
Why then should we speak of this story?
This story calls our name in Creation
This story claims our lives through the Cross
This story shapes our future through the Spirit
We are its telling in this time and this place
So tell me the story of this night, of this table
The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed
took bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it (taking and breaking bread)
Tell me what he said and did
This is my body which is broken for you
Do this and remember me
Tell me what he said and did (taking and pouring cup)
In the same way, he took the cup and said
This is a new covenant in my blood
Drink it and remember me
This is our common story
our deep memory, our true destiny
So let it also be our story-telling, our testimony
Let’s celebrate the way that grace has shaped our lives
I invite you to say aloud a prayer of thanks (pause)
Hear the storytellers of all ages whisper with us
Holy. holy, holy Lord
God of power and might
heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed in the one who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest
What is our prayer on this day?
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us
So this everyday meal becomes an eternal feast
So that our eating and drinking today
unites us with Christ,
whose body and blood are given for us.
So we know that you live in us
and that we live in you
So that we live in your world
knowing it is indeed yours.
Living God, this is our prayer. Amen. (Craig Mitchell, Mountain Masala)
A communion used at the Uniting Women’s Conference in Adelaide in 2016 and freely available to download on the CMLA website.
Words for Invitation
In the name of the One who said, ‘I am the bread of life’,
I invite you to come and eat.
In the name of the One who said, ‘I am the true vine’,
I invite you to come and drink.
In the name of the One who said, “Love one another, as I have loved you”,
I invite you to the table of Jesus Christ.
Prayer of Approach
Be present, risen Lord Jesus, as you were with your disciples,
and make yourself known to us in the breaking of the bread;
for you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Prayer of consecration
We thank you that your Spirit is poured out on all people. Send your Spirit now on us and on these gifts of bread and wine, that we may know Christ’s presence, real and true, and be his faithful followers showing your love for the world.
Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all honour and glory are yours forever. Amen.
Creation and communion liturgy
A Liturgy of Creation and Communion – John Van De Laar
A simple communion by John van de Laar
A communion focussed on children’s understanding and participation:
Kids Sunday Communion
Post communion prayer
God our creator,
you feed your children with the true manna,
the living bread from heaven:
let this holy food sustain us through our earthly pilgrimage
until we come to that place
where hunger and thirst are no more;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
“The one who is nourished on the Bread of Christ cannot remain indifferent before the one who, even in our day, is deprived of daily bread.”
(Source: Caritas Australia website)
An After Communion Prayer
God of Communion,
Help us to connect with you and with each other.
May the example that Jesus set, in terms of self-giving love,
inspire us towards love in our relationships with all in our lives.
As we have shared of this symbolic meal,
may we also remember those who go hungry in our world.
Help us to seek ways to be less self-focused and to work for justice in the world.
As we remember the suffering of Jesus,
may we also remember those who cry in suffering,
those who are beaten and battered, and who pray for mercy and justice.
Help us to seek ways to be less self-centred and to work for healing in the world.
As our focus is drawn towards broken bread and poured out wine,
may we remember that at times our relationships are broken and the love is spilt rather than shared.
Help us to seek ways to be less self-oriented and to work for reconciliation in this world,
Particularly between those we may be estranged from in situations and relationships.
God of Communion and Community,
Bind us together as a people.
May our differences enrich, not divide us.
May we share our brokenness with patience, grace and forgiveness, that we may be a community that brings healing and wholeness.
This is asked in unity with Christ.
(Source: Jon Humphries)
Rex AE Hunt Communion liturgies
New 2014 communion liturgy
Summer communion liturgyAutumn communion liturgy
Autumn-Lent communion liturgy
Winter communion liturgy
Spring communion liturgy
Advent communion liturgy
Christmas Eve communion liturgy
Flowers communion liturgy
The Lord of light is with you/And also with you
Open your hearts to where the light shines.
We open our hearts, we offer our minds
Watch and wait/ hope and prepare
Dare to see the divine spark
that makes our darkness safe
that makes our futures possible.
Seize, nurture and share the flame,
the source of all our thanks and praise
A communion liturgy by Kurt Struckmeyer
The eucharistic prayer:
For the power of love in human life and history,
we give thanks and praise.
Long ago our ancestors knew love’s power
and they became the tellers of love’s tale.
Love bound them in covenant,
teaching them to live in community
with compassion and concern
for the poorest among them.
Yet centuries of domination and violence
shaped a different kind of community
based on selfishness and inequality.
In the struggle against oppression,
Jesus became the face of love,
showing us the way to abundant life.
In word and deed, he announced
love’s new reign of justice, reconciliation, and peace.
Filled with the courage and passion of love’s spirit,
he gave his life to challenge the unjust systems of this world.
On the night of his betrayal and arrest,
as he shared a meal with his friends,
Jesus took bread, gave thanks, broke it,
and gave it to his followers, saying:
“Share this bread among you; this is my body which will be broken for justice.
Do this to remember me.”
When supper was over, he took the cup, gave thanks,
and gave it to his disciples, saying:
“Share this wine among you; this is my blood which will be shed for liberation.
Do this to remember me.”
God of love, spirit of compassion,
bless us and this bread and wine.
May this meal be food and drink for our journey—
renewing, sustaining, and making us whole.
When we eat this bread and drink from this cup
we experience again the presence of Jesus in our midst.
The table is ready. All are welcome. Come, for the feast is spread.
As the bread and wine are shared, these words are said:
The bread of life for all who hunger.
The cup of compassion for a broken world.
The blessing after the meal:
May this meal nourish us and refresh us,
may it strengthen us and renew us, may it unite us and keep us in God’s gracious love,
now and forever. Amen
Prayer after communion:
Let us pray.
God of love, we give you thanks for satisfying our hungry hearts with this meal.
Send us from here to reveal your love in the world.
Inspire in us the resolve and the courage, the compassion and the passion,
to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Amen
Prayer after communion
We have been guests of Jesus Christ.
We have received God’s good gifts.
Now we go to our homes,
to our neighbours, to our work
equipped to put Jesus’ words and being into action, to be the salt of the world,
to seek justice,
to make peace,
to preserve the creation, to gain life. Amen.
(Source: 2nd European Ecumenical Assembly, Graz, Europe, 1997)
Go forth in service: to fight, work, and pray for the unjust suffering of the innocent in our world*.
(* Martin Luther, “The Blessed Sacrament of the Holy and True Body of Christ, and the Brotherhoods,” 1519, published in Luther’s Works, Volume 35: Word and Sacrament I. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1960)
Music for communion
Many and varied, of course.
O Bread of Life
This is a meditative song by Kathy Douglass. O Bread of Life is inspired by words by Henri Nouwen – taken, blessed, broken given. Kathy suggests it could be used for the season of Lent. It could be played using the Soundcloud file during communion (could be on a loop if longer is needed).
O Bread of Life, feed our hungry souls
Come satisfy the emptiness we know
Take and bless us,
Break and give away
This Bread of Life
This Bread of Life
Take and Eat
A MIDI audio track is on this website, and includes the words by Phil Bates. Beautiful!
1. Take and eat, come have your fill now.
Take this bread, come as you will.
For the life of the world, be, be not afraid.
2. Take this cup, take and be filled now.
Take and drink, come as you are.
For the life of the world, be, be not afraid.
3. Take my song, come be refreshed now.
Take and live, take and be free,
For the life of the world, be, be not afraid.
© Phil Bates 1985.
Communion (for All Saints Day)
Invitation to Communion
Siblings in Christ, join me today at this table to a feast belonging to Jesus the Christ. Siblings in Christ, join me today for a feast which will comfort our souls. Siblings in Christ, join me in this sacrament knowing that we will grow close to God, neighbor, and self at this table.
Prayer of Communion
Friends, we come to this bittersweet ritual today filled with a bundle of emotions. While our gratitude for this family of faith is plentiful, our spiritual pain still may be suffocating us at five weeks or four months or three years or even two decades after the death of our beloved.
Our pews are a little lighter. Our homes are a quieter. And our hearts know well of the gaping hole resulting from our loss.
Even as this void still consumes this day-to-day living, we come here looking for hope that we can find only in you. Through this meal, we connect the past and present together, knowing that generation after generation has come to this table in their joy and grief.
God, we pray that this feast be one that fills our souls with comfort. May this meal kindle warmth and light inside our spirits.
May your Holy Spirit bless this bread and cup. May the Spirit bless us as we celebrate at the peaks of life and as we abide in the shadow-filled valleys. May the Spirit bring us the peace that will permeate our grief-coated hearts. And may the Spirit use this time and space to remind us that we are never alone in our difficult spaces.
With his friends, Jesus shared his last communion before death. The group recognized the sacred in their gathering and celebrated their friendship and their community of faith.
One more time, Jesus took the bread and blessed it. In his breaking of the bread, Jesus yearned for them to remember his teachings and their times together. “Whenever you eat this bread, remember me.”
One more time, after supper, Jesus took the cup and blessed it as well. In his grasping of the cup, Jesus yearned for his followers to recall their times together. “Whenever you drink of this cup, remember me.”
As we join together for this meal, let us remember with gratitude our loved ones who once ate at this table and many other tables with us. While they no longer abide with us here today, help us to recognize that they are a part of the great cloud of witnesses, celebrating eternity with our Creator.
May this meal be a gift to each of our souls today.
Unison prayer of Thanksgiving
We express our gratitude for this meal, Divine Host. We give thanks for the times we spent with our loved ones here at this table, and we thank you that this table is a reminder of our love for you, God. Accompany us into the world with peace in our hearts and strength in the days to come. Amen.
(Source: Michelle L. Torigian’s website)
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING FOR CHRISTMAS EVE, DAY, OR SEASON
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. The pastor may lift hands and keep them raised.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is right, and a good and joyful thing,
always and everywhere to give thanks to you,
Almighty God, creator of heaven and earth.
You created light out of darkness and brought forth life on the earth.
You formed us in your image and breathed into us the breath of life.
When we turned away, and our love failed, your love remained steadfast.
You delivered us from captivity, made covenant to be our sovereign God,
and spoke to us through your prophets.
In the fullness of time
you gave your only Son Jesus Christ to be our Saviour,
and at his birth the angels sang
glory to you in the highest and peace to your people on earth.
And so, with your people on earth and all the company of heaven
we praise your name and join their unending hymn:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ.
As Mary and Joseph went from Galilee to Bethlehem
and there found no room,
so Jesus went from Galilee to Jerusalem and was despised and rejected.
As in the poverty of a stable Jesus was born,
so by the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection
you gave birth to your Church,
delivered us from slavery to sin and death,
and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.
As your Word became flesh, born of woman, on that night long ago,
so, on the night in which he gave himself up for us, he took bread,
gave thanks to you, broke the bread, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
When the supper was over he took the cup,
gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:
“Drink from this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
And so, in remembrance of these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a holy and living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,
and on these gifts of bread and wine.
Make them be for us the body and blood of Christ,
that we may be for the world the body of Christ, redeemed by his blood.
By your Spirit make us one with Christ,
one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world,
until Christ comes in final victory, and we feast at his heavenly banquet.
Through your Son Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in your holy Church,
all honor and glory is yours, Almighty God, now and for ever. Amen.
Come to the table (communion hymn) — Stephen Best, Wales UK
Tune: Blessed Assurance 126.96.36.199.
Come voice your struggles, come shed your tears,
Come calm your anger, come lose your fears.
Here we encounter the Living Lord
Through bread that’s broken, in wine that’s poured
Come to the table, join in the song,
This is the place where all shall belong.
Voices in chorus, seeking Christ’s ways,
To become God’s living stones of praise.
Come voice your laughter, come show your joy,
We’ll be a temple the world won’t destroy.
Founded on caring, compassion and love,
Strength of lion, peace of the dove.
Come voice your outrage, come right what’s wrong,
Working for justice, together we’re strong.
More than the sum of each separate part,
Seeking and sharing the way of the heart.
(Source: Stephen Best ordination and induction service, on Worship Words)
Music: What Shall I pour?
The lyrics ask the questions – What are we searching for? and What can we do to make room for the Spirit? The words also remind us that, in our hurry to find God, we may need to slow down, be open, and wait for God’s “newness” in our life
What shall I pour out to make some sacred space?
What might I let go?
What sweet or bitter taste?
What shall I give up to give my God-Self place?
I listen, I open, I wait.
What do I yearn for that truly lifts me up?
Where can I drink deep to fill my Spirit up?
Surely comes the grace to pour my healing cup!
I listen, I open, I wait.
As we break the bread that shares to make us kin
As we pour the cup that drinks the Spirit in
As we take the time to venture deep within
We listen. We open. We wait.
(Source: James McGowan and Ellie Barrington, Gathering 2019, p.62)
Communion liturgy written by Jenny Ducker, Susan Burt and Judi Hartwig as part of Ruth Duck’s elective session. It is designed to accompany the lectionary Gospel reading for Sunday 6 August – the feeding of the 5000.
Tune: LAND OF REST
More hymns with this tune:
Come Now, and Praise the Humble Saint (G. W. Williams) – https://youtu.be/VZt-sisjQ94
Deliver Us, O Lord of Truth (Herman Stuempfle) – https://youtu.be/TgLerWrS0IY
Here, Master, in This Quiet Place (Fred Pratt Green) – https://youtu.be/Km-hubTN6-0
How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds (John Newton) – https://youtu.be/KjJOrvytohU
Jerusalem, My Happy Home (F. B. P.; adapt. Joseph Bromehead) – https://youtu.be/jJekrPEa7vk
Show Me Your Hands, Your Feet, Your Side (Sylvia Dunstan) – https://youtu.be/maFjbex9pzs
This Is a Story Full of Love (Brian Wren) – https://youtu.be/cJ-KiGZ4KMc