This communion liturgy was written for Christmas Eve at the Deer Creek Charge.
My mother and I celebrated together at Mt. Tabor, and we served my grandfather (her father) communion for what was probably the first time he had ever received it. It was a beautiful night.
God calls us to this table. God calls us to be fed. But too often we are already full, not with an abundance of grace and love, but rather full of clamor and commercialism, full of fear, full of pain we cannot shake. So we confess together:
Nourishing One who fills us with good things, empty us from all that holds us back from saying, “Here I am,” as Mary did. Take from us those places that are too full of ugliness and pain to let Christ enter in. Forgive us for our fear of scarcity that prevents us from coming to the manger with the humble shepherds, offering the only gift we have: ourselves.
Open your ears to hear the good news: God loves us so much that God comes to us in the form of a baby wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.
Glory to God in the Highest Heaven and on Earth peace to us all!
PASSING OF THE PEACE: Now let us share signs of that peace which we find in Christ with our neighbors!
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
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.
In the beginning, you spoke, breathing life into all of creation. You fed us in the garden, but we turned from you, eating the one thing you told us not too. Even after sending us out and into the world you did not let us starve. After you freed us from our slavery in Egypt, we cursed you for freeing us, but you did not abandon us. Instead, you fed us, covering the surface of the wilderness with manna like dew.
In famine, you provided for your prophet Elijah through people like us, people living on the edge of hunger with nothing left to eat. But you filled our jar of meal and jug of oil so that they would not fail until you sent rain upon the earth.
So too, when there was a famine in Bethlehem, the House of Bread, people like us sojourned to Moab and lost family. But you came to us through the strength of Ruth who gleaned that we might have bread and life. You gave us enough, filling not only our bellies with food but also our spirits with love and goodness.
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.
Still we turned away, forgetting how you have nourished us through the ages. You sent us messengers in the form of angels and prophets, and finally you came to us to live among us, not as a king who sits before an elaborate banquet, but in the form of a child, born in a manger, a trough for feeding animals. Already, here, on that long ago Christmas, you were calling us together to be fed.
When he was in the womb, Jesus' mother sang of the hope he would bring: scattering the proud, lifting the lowly, and filling the hungry with good things. When he grew up, he fed five thousand of us with five loaves and two fish in a deserted place, blessing and breaking the bread before sharing it with us. And all ate and were filled. He was already fulfilling the words his mother sang.
Yet there were those of us who sneered at him for not following the rules about eating. We chastised him for eating with those we named sinners. We turned our backs on Jesus, on the nourishment he offered. And we gave him up to die, even after sitting at table with him.
On his last night with us, Jesus sat at a table and fed us, as he promised to on that Christmas night long ago, lying in a manger. He took bread, blessed it, broke it, and shared it with us, saying “This is my body, which is given for you.”
When supper was over he took the cup, blessed it, and shared it with us, saying, “Take, and drink. As often as you do this, remember 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. Stay with us Spirit, open our eyes as you did at the meal Jesus shared with his friends after the resurrection on that road to Emmaus. Make us one bread, one body: nourishment to the world until we all feast together at Christ's heavenly table. May you work through us, God, that all might be fed. Be made known to us here, now, in the breaking of this bread, Living, Life-Giving God.
And now, with the confidence of the children of God, let us pray for our daily bread, praying the prayer Jesus taught us: THE LORD'S PRAYER
BREAKING THE BREAD
The bread of life.
The cup that saves us, and sets us free.
GIVING THE BREAD AND THE CUP
The table is set and all are invited. In the United Methodist Church, we practice an open table. This means you don't have to be a member, you don't have to be baptized, you don't have to take classes, you don't even have to be in a good mood. You are invited to come and know that no matter who you are and where you are on your journey, you are a beloved child of God and God's grace is sufficient.
We will be taking communion by intinction, meaning I will give you a piece of bread and you can dip it in the cup. Now, let us come to the table to see this thing that has taken place, that the Lord has made known to us in the choirs of angels.
Let us pray:
In the Psalms we read, “Taste and See that the Lord is Good.” God, as we go forth from this table to celebrate a baby, a king born in a feeding trough, help us to remember this meal, remember what it is to taste and see your goodness and mercy. Now may we go and feed others. Amen.