Now and then we have all age services that coincide with communion Sunday, and for the last couple I prepared my liturgies deliberately to be child-accessible. In our church, children may receive communion at thier parents'/carers' discretion. I am sharing them here because they might be useful as jumping off points for other people. All I would ask if you do use them is that you don't pass them off as your own, and that you don't publish them without asking me first.
This second one was on the day of our harvest thanksgiving...
When we read the Bible, we find stories of lots of meals Jesus shared with other people…
He shared picnics on the side of hills, and grand banquets in the homes of powerful people
He accepted hospitality from religious people and tax-gatherers, lepers and unmarried women
He even appreciated it when a woman whose reputation was a little suspect washed his feet with her tears
He cooked fish on a beach and broke bread with weary travellers at the end of a long day
Jesus shared in ordinary meals and special meals
Meals that were essential and meals that were parties
And today we pause to remember and to re-enact as best we can, the most special, simple, religiously significant, celebratory and sad meal of all.
It’s a story we know well, because we have heard it many, many times.
And because we know it so well, we no longer hear it properly.
So let’s try to imagine we are there, in the story, standing in the shadows watching and listening…
This is the time of the Passover festival, when Jew remember how Yahweh brought their ancestors out of slavery in the land of Egypt, led by Moses. It is a family time, a time to share in food and singing, and to give thanks to God.
Jesus is coming up the stairs with his friends. Judas is carrying the money bag, Peter is chatting to Andrew; James and John are squabbling, as usual; Thomas is asking Matthew about something or other… Soon they settle down and take their places around the low table and the food is brought in. It smells lovely and tastes even better.
Jesus reaches across and picks up some bread. Everyone pauses, and looks towards him. He holds it up and says a thank you prayer to God. Then he speaks. “Do you see this bread? Look, I am breaking it. Just like this bread, my body will be broken, so that everyone’s sins can be forgiven. Each time you eat bread, I want you to remember this.”
The bread passes round, and everyone takes some and chews it, wondering what Jesus means by his words.
Jesus reaches out again and picks up a big goblet of wine. Again every eye is upon him. After he has said the thank you prayer he speaks. “See this wine? It has poured out for you. Just like this wine, my blood will be poured out, so that everyone’s sins can be forgiven. Each time you drink wine, I want you to remember this.”
And so the goblet is passed round, and everyone takes a drink from it, wondering what Jesus is talking about.
For hundreds and hundreds of years people have carried on remembering this story. In big cathedrals and mission halls; in tents and on beaches; in hospital wards and in prison cells; with lots of ceremony and fancy words; in secret and in silence.
And now we take out turn, so let’s say thank you to God.
For this bread and this wine, we thank you, generous God.
For this story and all it means, we give you praise.
As we eat and drink, and as we tell the story in our lives, help us to remember why we do so
Jesus lived among people like us, telling wonderful stories and sharing tasty food
Jesus died alone on a hillside; his friends ran away and hid in fear
Jesus rose again and made a barbecue breakfast for his followers
Jesus returned to God, but left his friends with a promise that he would come back one day
Until then, we will remember every time we eat and drink together.
(c) Catriona Gorton 2012