As I’ve been reflecting on the lectionary readings for this week – Jeremiah 17:5-10 and Luke 6:17-26 in particular – I am aware that so much of life seems to be about the ups and downs, or the “curses” and the “blessings” as both writers call them. I am struck by Jesus standing on a level place from which to offer words that calm the people’s troubles and a touch that heals them.
The table is that level place. Here the ordinary elements of bread and wine, in the way that they are spoken of and shared, become the extraordinary: a tangible reminder of the presence of God with and within us.
This week I want to keep that focus and so a little bit of Godly play language and a little of my Celtic roots have gone into celebrating this blessing in a simple way.
As I have children in the congregation, I will begin by sitting with them in a half circle in front of the covered communion table with a small basket of some heads of wheat, bread, grapes, and an indestructible picnic glass of grape juice.
Once there was someone who did such wonderful things and said such amazing things that people wondered who he was. Finally, they just couldn’t help it. They had to ask him who he was.
One time, when they asked him, Jesus said:
“I am the bread that came down from heaven to give life to the world. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry.”
Many people didn’t understand. Some of them even got angry. But some of them decided to follow him wherever he went.
Another time, Jesus told those who were following him:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will bear much fruit.”
Point to the bread: Grain from the field,
Point to the grapes/juice/wine: fruit from the vine .…
As he sat at the supper table with them, he took a piece of bread, gave thanks to God for it, broke it, and gave it to them saying something like this:
“When you share the bread like this, I will be there.”
A piece of bread is given to one or more of the children.
And after supper, when they’d eaten everything they wanted to eat, he took the cup of wine, gave thanks to God for it, and shared it with them saying something like:
“When you share the cup like this, I will be there.”
A sip of juice is given to one or more of the children.
Stand and walk slowly to the altar. Remove the cover. Stretch your arms wide to show all that is set.
Grain from the field,
fruit from the vine,
ready at the table for us to share.
The children (and any interested adults) are invited to come up to look and the wondering questions are offered – to encompass the whole congregation.
I wonder which part of this feast you love the best?
I wonder if the wine and the bread make people happy?
I wonder if God comes close to us when we share like this?
I wonder who else God would like to come close to?
Addressing the congregation:
The table is ready. Christ himself is both the host and the meal. Eat the bread and be full of the life of Christ. Drink the cup and be filled with the love of Christ. Remember as you eat and as you drink that Christ is here and be blessed.
Communion is shared – first with those already gathered around the table. People should be encouraged to come up and stand together in groups around the table. Although this is a little less orderly than some congregations may be used to, there is a joy and togetherness at the table which can be a great blessing – especially to those who may feel isolated, unloved, or even unlovable.
The elements are covered and the closing prayer is offered with arms outstretched to the whole congregation:
Christ is here.
Through the grain of the field
And the fruit of the vine
Shared among friends
God remains in us.
May we remain with God
To bear fruit in the world
In every season of our lives.