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Keeping Communion/ The Lord’s Supper/ Holy Eucharist on the main table … front and centre!

Common to most Christian traditions of celebrating worship are the times of opening the Bible and a Communion.

In most worship formats there are at least the following three parts embedded somewhere as either a sermon or as part of the communion time itself.  If not, there could be!

  • The Jesus Story … exploring and engaging in God’s Word
  • The Instituting Story coming out of The Last Supper of Jesus with the disciples … (1 Corinthians 11:23-26) This is included formally or informally as we share around a communion table
  • A call, a prayer &/or a response to be God’s Church in the pattern of Jesus, in the Power of Holy Spirit

This section of Midst is included so as to encourage a refreshing look at this Communion time in a way that helps everyone, but particularly children, experience the connection between opening the Bible and our responses to continue to be Jesus to one another, the community around us and the world.

If all we had was open space and did nothing else as part of a gathering of the faith community to show we are disciples of The Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, committed to God’s mission in the world, would we would have one table with an open Bible, bread, a cup of wine/juice and maybe a cross.

One table … an alter, a formal table, a kitchen table, the top of a log, a cloth on the ground.

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First Part: A Jesus Story

By what ever means encourage children towards the help they need to find a Bible, find a story of Jesus and engage in it for themselves and with others. This could be in the form of an engaging sermon just prior to communion. It could also be a drama or storytelling presentation of a Bible story.  It could be one of the stories of Jesus that children have been exploring in their own age-appropriate time over the last few weeks. It could be an Old Testament story that points to Jesus. It could be one child’s favourite story read from their favourite Bible. There are many useful ways to explore this. It could even be a multi-gen, multi-sensory, engaging sermon!!

A couple of questions to we can encourage children and others to ask as we engage the Word of God prior to coming around the communion table:

  • I wonder why this story is in the Bible?
  • I wonder how this helps us to be like Jesus to one another and to those in our community and in our world?
  • I wonder how we can find the help and the learning to do this?

Second Part: The Story of the first communion meal

This is the instituting story … the formation story … of how we come to be gathered as a church around the communion table. Often these Words of Institution come from the prayer book, an order or service or directly from 1 Cor 11:23-26

Some traditions may allow different forms of these words to be integrated in different ways through story, prayers, poems, comments or testimonies. These different methods allow an exploration of the ideas around this instituting story. Nevertheless, these words institute us … they form us … they start us off … they give us a pattern or an example to follow.

On the night Jesus was betrayed … Jesus started a special meal to help us to REMEMBER.

Remember’ can have two meanings here:

  • to re-call the stories; re-member the stories; re-live, re-tell, re-enact, re-engage with, re-imagine the stories of Jesus. And from this:
  • to re-put-together; re-make; re-member Jesus together; re- be Jesus to one another and to those in our community and in our world? [missing reference from BTh Essay] In this sense of the word, re-member is the opposite of dis-member. (One slightly odd illustration of these opposites … While we can’t re-member a dis-membered cooked chook, we can re-member Jesus today as the church.)

To re-member Jesus in this latter sense is part of what it means to celebrate how God makes Jesus alive today to one another and to those in our community and in our world. We do this:

  • in the coming together as God’s people;
  • in responding individually and together out of our engagement of the Bible narratives of Jesus; (The Old Testament as it points to Jesus; and the Letters of Paul and others as it describes how to re-be Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.)
  • in deciding afresh to commit individually to being followers of The Lord, Jesus Christ of Nazareth
  • in deciding together as a Body of Christ to be like Jesus to one another and to those in our community and in our world?; and
  • in asking for the help we need by Holy Spirit to be pentecosted, gifted, formed afresh for God’s mission in and through the church.

Third Part: Using the responses gathered in the first two parts, we frame a prayer:

We are not the church together trying to re-member Jesus by virtue of the fact of turning up or having a meal or wanting to commit ourselves in this way. As important as these things are, we are made to be be like Jesus to one another and to those in our community and in our world by God. If we don’t already, we could learn to acknowledge this and pray accordingly.

This makes something like the following prayer an important part of all thanksgiving liturgies.

Come Holy Spirit … come empower us, make us, gift us, pentecost us afresh and help us be like Jesus to one another and to those in our community and in our world after the pattern of Jesus we are discovering together. Amen.

In this sense, the communion meal becomes a sign up page to being used by God to be The Church. The mystery of God’s presence in and through the Church is experienced in this moment and in every expression of what it means to be God’s Church.

explore

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    Table 1 … The Communion Table

    What if the only table to start with was a communion table?
    Our contemporary traditions of celebrating worship often come a range of elements including music, singing, community news, prayers, collections & offerings, welcoming teams, digital/IT, announcements, church meals and more. What would a church look like if it grew from one table … table1 … the Communion. After that, add a table! In response to opening the Bible together and exploring an element (say, singing) table2 could be formed and grow to help us all engage even more helpfully in table1.

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    Each table needs a leader, a specialist and an advocate

    Where 2 or 3 agree in my Name …
    There’s a whole lot of power and sense in waiting until there is the nucleus of a team to pray and work through a vision for a particular table. How will it work? How does this help us engage in table1? How are those in the group we are advocating for (e.g. children) helped to participate, engage and respond?

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    Advocacy

    How does it work?
    When we begin to look at something through the eyes of those in the group we are advocating for (e.g. children) we see things in a different light. What will happen when things get a little long and we begin to lose the engagement of our children. An advocate will be asking important questions and working towards solutions that make sense.

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