One: When Jesus sat at tables and broke bread with tax collectors, lawyers, rich elites, and poor peasants, he proclaimed that God’s gracious love and abiding presence know no bounds. Through these occasions of sharing food, women and men experienced God, and shared in God’s Kin-dom. A Kin-dom, where: all are welcome, worthy, and invited; lives are transformed and empowered; and the fruits of God’s gentle justice bloom throughout all Creation.
All: All people, including each of us, are invited to share in this sacred meal of celebration, and be strengthened by the presence of God in this place.
Prayer of Remembrancc
One: We remember that Jesus fed 5,000 hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish. At this miraculous meal, there was such an abundance of food that everyone ate until they were full – and there were even twelve baskets of food left over.
All: Holy God, we celebrate Your abundant care and solidarity, revealed in this meal.
One: We remember that Jesus joined a great banquet with Levi, the despised tax collector. And despite the complaints of some, Jesus welcomed Levi, and invited him to repent and enjoy a fresh beginning at life.
All: Holy God, we celebrate Your transforming presence, revealed in this meal.
One: We remember that while sharing a meal with Pharisees, Jesus welcomed a woman viewed as an outsider. As the woman anointed his feet with oil, Jesus declared her dignity before everyone at the meal.
All: Holy God, we celebrate Your gracious inclusiveness, revealed in this meal.
One: At these meals, Jesus, and the women and men disciples resisted the divisions, injustice, and violence of society. They lived out an alternative reality – the Kin-dom of God – a place of love, justice, and mutuality. Today we celebrate these meals and ministries.
But we also recognize that not all people liked Jesus’ ministry. In fact, for some people, it was scandalous. They said, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” As we know, Jesus’ life became endangered.
When his arrest seemed near, Jesus ate a meal in an upper room with the disciples. As he had done so many times before, he took bread and after having given thanks to You, Holy God, he broke it and gave it to the disciples, this time saying, “Do this to remember me.” After the meal he shared wine, gave thanks, and said, “I will not drink from this cup again until I drink it with you in the Kin-dom of God.”
Jesus was then unjustly killed by the systems of domination of his day.
To some of his frightened disciples it seemed that the bread symbolized his broken body, and the wine his blood. It also seemed like injustice and violence killed Jesus and his ministry. But the resurrection provided a new hope. There were more meals – and more ministries! We thank you, Holy God, that the last supper wasn’t the last meal – or the last word!
At an evening meal in Emmaus, Jesus once again ate with the disciples. His execution wasn’t the end. His presence and ministry continued in a new way. Jesus once more took bread, and having given thanks to You, Holy God, he broke it and gave it to the disciples, revealing that Your steadfast love is stronger than death – and your ministry, with us, for the sake of your Kin-dom, continues.
The Kin-dom persisted – and persists today – through the many women and men who seek to be your resurrection community. Despite the divisions, violence, and injustice in the world, God continually brings forth renewed hope for love, justice, and mutuality to and through each of us.
Therefore, Holy God, in the sharing of this bread and wine, we joyfully celebrate the hope-inspiring ministry and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lifting of the Elements
One: Gracious God, may this meal, for us, be an “Emmaus meal,” where we encounter your presence in the sharing of this food, as the disciples did at their meal in Emmaus.
May the sharing of this food also be a taste of your Kin-dom, Holy God, so we may be strengthened to be your joyful and hopeful disciples. And may we share in your Kin-dom of love, justice, and mutuality with those around us. Amen!
[Invite the communion stewards to join the celebrants, if stewards are needed, so they can be more explicitly part of the blessing.]
All: Holy God, bless each of us, and the meal we will share, so we may be: opened to your abiding presence; nourished by your gracious love; and strengthened by your resurrection power. Amen!
One: Come taste the Kin-dom, and know God is present with us here.
One: Amazing God, thank you for your presence in this place. We also thank you for giving us a taste of your Kin-dom in this meal. Please use this food to strengthen us to be your joyful and hopeful Resurrection Community, sharing and experiencing your Kin-dom of love, justice, and mutuality. Flow through us, healing God. Amen!
This communion liturgy was written for a worship service that focused on “peace through justice.” The liturgy emphasizes God’s vision of love, justice, and mutuality, even in the face of the divisions, injustice, and violence of the Roman Empire. It also shows the differences between the nonviolent tactics of Jesus’ “Kin-dom of God” and the brutal tactics of Caesar’s “Empire of Rome.” The hope is that this liturgy invites Christians to feel the love and presence of God in their lives, so they can be strengthened to share the peace and justice of God in the world. The same God that loved the disciples, also loves us. And the same God that worked for peace and justice in the Roman Empire, continues to work for peace and justice today. This liturgy seeks to invite modern Christians to join in on God’s healing work in the world.
The book Eucharistic Prayers for Inclusive Communities includes a copy of this liturgy.
If you’re interested in reading related ideas, check out: The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren, Redeeming Memories: A Theology of Healing and Transformation by Flora Keshgegian, Proverbs of Ashes: Violence, Redemptive Suffering, and the Search for What Saves Us by Rebecca Ann Parker and Rita Nakashima Brock, and The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus’s Final Days in Jerusalem by Marcus Borg and John Crossan.
More of Brian’s writing on his site http://ephphatha-poetry.blogspot.com