Love Feast

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
World Communion Sunday
October 6, 2013               6:30 pm

Becoming Still

  A Time for Quiet Reflection

         As you arrive and take your seat, appreciate these moments to simply "be still and know" that God is God. Become aware of your own breathing, and the breath of the Holy Spirit in your life. Listen to your heart beat, and open this heart to your Creator, confessing and releasing your sin. Ponder what it means to trust, fully and freely, in Jesus Christ as your Savior and Lord. Think about how the church is His body, living and serving in His name. Thus, prepare for this feast of His Love.

  Welcome

  Hymn                           "Just as I am, without one plea"                             516

  Litany Prayer                                                                        (back of bulletin)
                             move to the feetwashing circles, taking with you a hymnal

On Bended Knee

  Remembered Scripture                Psalm 23                                            (814)

  Meditation        "Who is the host and who is the guest?"

  Washing Feet (hymns sung as needed)
                        - "Savior, like a shepherd lead us"             355
                        - "He leadeth me"                                      599            
                        - "Will you let me be your servant"             307            
                        - "Gentle Shepherd, come and lead us"      352

 Unison Prayer                                                                                          783
                                              move to the tables in the fellowship hall

At the Lordís Table

  Responsive Scripture                John 15:12-17                                         846

  Meditation                     "Would you be willing?"

  Blessing with a song      "Be present at our table, Lord"                           457

  Eating Together

With Gratitude

  Hymn                             "Beneath the cross of Jesus"                               250

  Remembered Scripture                John 3:16

  Meditation             "Trusting the Giver and the Gift"

  Unison Prayer and Lordís Prayer                                                             788

  Breaking and eating the bread

  Drinking from the Lordís cup

*Hymn                                   "Move in our midst"                                     418

*Benediction

*******************

         After the meal, you are invited to participate in the fellowship discovered in cleaning up. Thanks to all who prepared, led, participated, and picked up afterward.  


#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Litany Prayer

One: Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

All: Remove those things that keep us from seeing one another as brothers and sisters, your children on earth as we shall be in heaven.

One: Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

All: Take away the fear and greed and pride that lead us into violence and prevent us from realizing the peace and good will announced at Jesus' birth.

One: Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

All: Preserve us from the pollution of sin and the sin of pollution, so we might restore balance between the human community and our natural community.

One: Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.

All: Make us a people that bears kingdom fruits on earth as in heaven. Amen.

by Ron Martin-Adkins
Asheville, North Carolina
    

Psalm 23
(Let's see how much of this we have memorized)

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want;
      he makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters;
      he restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
      for his name's sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
            I fear no evil;
      for thou art with me;
      thy rod and thy staff,
      they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me
            in the presence of my enemies;
      thou anointest my head with oil,
            my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
            all the days of my life;
      and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Hymnal #814
Revised Standard Version
   

"Who is the host and who is the guest?"

             While the first and seconds parts of this familiar scripture speak of Godís guidance and protection, the third reveals the hospitality of our Shepherding Lord. Read totally from the perspective of sheep, this table prepared in the presence of enemies may refer to a high pasture that is full of what sheep love to eat, with a watchful shepherd standing guard. However, as grazing on grass is not what I was created to do, when I hear these words, I tend to picture the kind of tables around which we will soon gather, with a simple, but hearty meal laid out to sustain us.

             Hospitality. In this scripture, a place of welcome is envisioned, where persons are sheltered from harm, their wounds cleansed, and their bellies filled. Who is the host here? "The Lord is my Shepherd..." Those who come to the table are God's guests. In this place, though, with the Lord as our guide, protector, and provider, we become hosts to one another, bending down to cleanse our sister or brother's feet (as Jesus called us to do in John 13). Because some of us find it difficult to physically get down on our knees, weíve added the option of washing each otherís hands instead of our feet. The purpose remains the same, for as we wash hands or feet we become hosts to one another, servants in Jesusí name. In this room, however, we are also guests, allowing our brother or sister to wash our feet or hands, thus receiving God's hospitality through persons we can see and touch.

            Of course, we donít live in a dry and dusty land, with sandaled feet in need of washing before entering a home. We also take showers regularly and do not depend as much upon aromatic oils to cover our smell, as they did in Bible times. One might say that what we are about to do is an archaic ritual unsuited to modern times. As I see it, this old, old practice is a doorway for us to enter our day and age with a timeless faith. We live in a high tech, low-touch world in desperate need of this kind of intimacy which does not use or abuse, but rather simply welcomes. Real hospitality begins here.

            Our shepherding Lord is bringing us to his table this evening, and your hands are his. As you physically touch your sister or brother with hands and water, welcome them in Jesusí name. Prepare them for this feast. Be aware of their wounds that need Godís healing touch. With tub and towel, draw them more deeply into the presence of our heavenly hostÖ As your brother or sister washes you, behold the hand of the Lord working through them. Allow your cuts and bruises, especially the ones that are more than skin deep, to be cleansed beyond the water in the tub. May this physical hand that touches you, welcome you to the Lordís table, where our cup overflows, and goodness and mercy follow.

  

Unison Prayer

Lord Jesus,
      we have knelt before each other
            as you once knelt before your disciples,
      washing another's feet.
We have done what words stammer to express.
Accept this gesture of love as a pledge
      of how we mean to live our lives.
Bless us, as you promised,
      with joy and perseverance in the way of the cross. AMEN

Hymnal #783
©1991 John D. Rempel.
   

John 15:12-17

"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.
I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another."

Hymnal #846
New Revised Standard Version
    

"Would you be willing?"

Love is good, but it also is costly. Out of love - agape love, God's kind of love - Jesus laid down his life for others. That is why we are here, to remember and to preach without words this sacrifice of God for all. But amid our remembrance and proclamation lies an important question.  Look around your tables at the sisters and brothers who sit across from or beside you. Cast a glance toward the other tables, and those who sit around them, each person drawn to this place on this night by God, just like you were. Would you be willing to lay down your life for them? Would you be willing to lay aside your own desires and dreams, your own control of things, your own needs, for their sake?

 

         When believers bear fruit, a gift from God to start with, this fruit is not just for our own nourishment (as important as it is to receive our daily bread from the Lord - our very sustenance). God gives through us to others. Are we bearing God's fruit for these persons around these tables, as well as for those whom Jesus longs to bring to his feast?

 

         Are we willing to lay down our lives for others? And are we bearing fruit to be shared rather than hoarded? May these two questions run through the back of our minds as we eat this simple meal together tonight. To pave the way, letís bless the food and our fellowship with a song, #457, ďBe present at our table, Lord.Ē
   

"Trusting the Giver and the Gift"

         John 3:16 is, perhaps, one of the most memorized verses of scripture. In the course of this short meditation, we will hopefully repeat it from heart several times. It speaks of the greatest gift mentioned in the New Testament - love incarnate, in human form in the person of Jesus. When we commune together with bread and cup, we remember and proclaim his life-giving death upon the cross. Everything about the story as we have received it revolves around "gift."

      John 3:16 - God loved the world so greatly that he gave what was most precious. "Only" speaks of what is "one-of-a-kind," "begotten" refers to that which is "flesh of my flesh," i.e. part of oneself. A "Son" is the hope for the future, an heir to fulfill the promise, in whom God's tough and tender love most completely abides. The giver is God and Jesus the Christ is God's gift. Everything of faith flows from this, faith itself being a gift. By "grace" we are saved, we say, the word "grace" (charis) meaning "gift." Those who believe are not only given spiritual "gifts," their lives become a gift. To be filled with "charisma" is to become a giver, God's gifts given to share with others, for the benefit of others.

          John 3:16 - "whosoever believeth in him" it says, which is not an intellectual exercise. We don't simply believe that Jesus exists, that he was an historical person, that everything happened as the gospel story says it did. That is too easy. We can say to those we love that we believe in their existence. But is that having faith in them? No, we love them - in ways that they not only hear but also experience. In word and deed... "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind." So reads the greatest commandment. To believe in the giver and the gift is to give our love in return, to embrace this eternal life freely given and to live it.

         John 3:16 - In your hand you will hold a bit of bread, and then a small cup of juice. With these simple, tangible items we remember God's gift in Christ Jesus who was broken for our sake, whose life blood was shed for us, fully and freely. Christians all around this globe on the World Communion Sunday, are gathering to share this meal - however it is they understand what it means - and before doing so they will speak their "eucharist," a prayer of thanksgiving (did you recognize the "charis," the "gift" in the word "eucharist"?). Though the word refers to the prayer beforehand, which Jesus himself prayed in the upper room with his disciples, we may think of the bread and cup itself or, more to the point, the eating and drinking of them, as the eucharist. That is appropriate, for it is a gift to be gathered in Jesus' name just now, simply trusting in the giver and the gift.

         John 3:16 - Let's give thanks with one voice (#788)
   

Unison Prayer and Lordís Prayer

Blessed are you, God of heaven and earth.
In mercy for our fallen world you gave your only Son,
      that all those who believe in him should not perish
      but have eternal life.
We give thanks to you for the salvation
      you have prepared for us through Jesus Christ.
Send now your Holy Spirit into our hearts,
      that we may receive our Lord with a living faith
      as he comes to us in his holy supper.

            (May be concluded with the Lord's prayer)

Hymnal #788
©1978 Lutheran Book of Worship,
c/o Augsburg Fortress.
   

Benediction

         "O God, who has prepared for them that love Thee, such good things as pass man's understanding; pour into our hearts such love toward Thee, that we, loving Thee above all things, may obtain Thy promise which exceeds all that we can desire through Jesus Christ our Lord." Amen.

- Collection for Sixth Sunday after Trinity
   

 

To learn more about Love Feast, click here.

 

©2013, revised from 2005 - Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)

 

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