Love Feast

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
October 2, 2011

Examine yourselves, and only then eat of the bread
and drink of the cup
.” (1 Corinthians 11:28)

Quiet Reflection

A Song to Call us                           "Isaiah 55"

Unison Confession                                                                                      699

Hymn                             "I heard the voice of Jesus say"                              493
                             (move to the feetwashing circles, taking a hymnal with you)

So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet,
you also ought to wash one another's feet
.” (John 13:14)

Scripture                                      Luke 7:36-50


Washing one another’s feet

Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint
against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord
has forgiven you, so you also must forgive
(Colossians 3:13)

Scripture                                    Luke 15:11-32


Prayer in Song                      "Lord, bless the hands"                                     93

Eating Together

The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a sharing
in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it
not a sharing in the body of Christ
?” (1 Corinthians 10:16)

Hymn                                        "Sun of my soul"                                         654

Scripture                                    Luke 22:14-21


Hymn                              "Here, O my Lord, I see thee"                              465
                                                         (congregation sings refrain)

Thanksgiving Prayer


(in unison:)
"This bread which we break
is the communion of the body of Christ."


(in unison:)
"This cup of the New Testament
is the communion of the blood of Christ."

Hymn/Benediction              "You shall go out with joy"                                 427

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Unison Confession

Lord, our God, 
         great, eternal, wonderful
         utterly to be trusted:
                  you give life to us all,
                  you help those who come to you,
                  you give hope to those who cry to you.
Forgive our sins, secret and open,
         and rid us of every habit of thought
         that stands against the gospel.
Set our hearts at peace,
         so we may live our lives before you
                  confidently and without fear,
                  through Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN

Hymnal #699. Based on a prayer from
The Liturgy of St. Basil of Caesarea, 4th c.,
adapted from Contemporary Prayers for Public Worship,
ed. Caryl Micklem, copyright © 1956 1967 SCM Press, Ltd.

before washing feet

The verse immediately before this story in the Gospel of Luke says this: “Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children(Luke 7:35). It’s almost on cue that a “woman of the city” arrives on the scene, a child of God who vindicates, who proves God’s wisdom to be right. We can allow our imaginations to run wild as to exactly what it means for her to be a “woman of the city, who was a sinner,” as did the Pharisee. However, that’s not really the point. Forgiveness is what lies at the heart of this story. Her sins, which were many (that’s all it says - no more, no less), have been forgiven. Because she has been shown great love, she shows great love. She washes the feet of Jesus with her tears.

Our practice of washing each other’s feet is based upon the 13th chapter of the Gospel of John, where it says that Jesus tied a towel around his waist and washed and dried the feet of all his disciples, instructing them (and us, we believe) to do the same. That chapter makes no mention of any of them washing his feet in return. Even Peter, who wasn’t too thrilled over having his feet washed, it says, made no effort to reciprocate.

In the gospels, the only ones who wash Jesus feet are women. Here in Luke it was a nameless “woman of the city.” In John, Mary (sister of Martha and Lazarus - not to be confused with this other woman of the city, or with Mary of Magdala, or with Mary the mother of Jesus) also washed Jesus’ feet, much to the chagrin of Judas Iscariot who thought the money she spent on the costly anointing oil she used could have been better spent (12:1-8, 11:2). What Mary did was probably in response to the great love which Jesus showed in raising her brother from the grave (11:32-45).

We are here, sisters and brothers, because of this great love. Sinners that we have been, we are also God’s children who prove that the love of Christ upon the cross is true wisdom. Forgiven, we forgive. Loved, we love. We put into our hands this forgiveness and love. Our desire to serve, to reach out and help others, comes out of this. It’s not that we’re perfect people, superior examples of faithfulness. No, it’s only because we ourselves have been forgiven and loved. Our hearts yearn to pass it on.

Your sins are forgiven,” Jesus told that woman. That’s his message to each of you gathered here just now. “Your faith has saved you, shalom, go in peace.” ... Now, put that into your hands.

before agape meal

We know this story. It can be heard in many ways. We can focus upon the “prodigal son,” or look up to the “waiting father.” We can even view it through the eyes of the “older brother.” At its heart is a love which forgives and welcomes home those who have been lost, whether they have wandered to some far country of wasteful living, or stayed behind and have forgotten why - lost now in bitterness.

I can still see the scene as portrayed in a morning devotional time at camp. We were gathered on a hill, with a path leading off in the distance through a field. Retelling this story, one young person played the younger son, while another narrated. “I have sinned ... I will go home, even though I do not deserve a place there. Perhaps as a slave, though.” And he turned and started the slow walk down the hill. However, off in the distance was another figure - running, arms outstretched. The son had only completed a dozen steps by the time this other person, the father, reached him and hugged him tightly.

Such is God’s love for us. Do we deserve a place around this table? That’s not really the question, is it? God has been waiting, watching, running, embracing. “Quickly, bring out a robe, a ring, sandals. Put them on. Prepare a feast - a fatted calf - and let us eat and celebrate! For this son, this daughter of mine was dead and is alive again; he/she was lost and is found!(Luke 15:22‑24). Can we share together this meal with this kind of love in mind? Around your table are God’s children, in certain ways prodigals all. But we are turning toward home, and our waiting father is clothing us and feeding us and binding us together in love.

Even if you have never left for some distant horizon, some itch that can’t really be scratched, some wasted endeavor; even if you have remained faithful, let bitterness go. The feast is also for you. Embrace those whom your heavenly father embraces, and thus experience what love is really all about.

The meal awaits. Let’s bless it with song.

before communion

All the gospel accounts of this upper room scene have that jarring reminder of betrayal. This is holy time, but not all is holy. If only we could take a pair of scissors and cut out Judas Iscariot, we are tempted to think. But without him we become a holy huddle, ignoring our own betrayals. God does not allow us to live in a dream world, for visions of grandeur blind us to the reality of what we have been called to be and do in this broken world. Only those who know their own brokeness and sin can share the good news of God’s healing forgiveness.

We come down off our righteous pedestals - Judas forces us to do this - and sit at Christ’s table just as we are. No better are we than the other characters throughout time who have come to this place. Here sits a bunch of former fishermen, a tax collector, a few zealots. “Disciples,” he calls us. Throughout history, believers have come. “Saints,” we have called them. Their true name is “Forgiven.”

In the order Matthew, Mark, and Paul (though not Luke) remember, our Lord takes bread and breaks it, and in that tearing we hear our own fraying of the fabric of what God has sewn together as his world. But this breaking is intentional on God’s part, for through it he is healing his children. And we envision Jesus broken upon a cross. “This is my body,” he says. Eat.

Then he takes the fruit of the vine and pours it into a cup, and in the dripping of that liquid we hear the prophet’s cry,  “Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever‑flowing stream(Amos 5:24). God is making things right. Upon the cross we see his wounds, and the blood pouring freely - in reality a healing river flowing by the throne of God. “This is my blood,” he says, a new beginning, a “new covenant.” Drink.

“Here, O my Lord, I see thee face to face. Here would I touch and handle things unseen, here grasp with firmer hand eternal grace, and all my weariness upon thee lean.” Let’s sing this communion song, #465 in your hymnal.

Thanksgiving Prayer

(The Invitation)

All who are in love and fellowship with your brothers and sisters, who do truly and earnestly repent of your sins, who humbly put your trust in Christ and desire his help that you may walk in newness of life, draw near to God and receive this holy communion, through Jesus Christ our Lord... Please pray with me.

Lord God, ever near yet never under our control, faithful and true beyond our own often meager efforts to live as you would have us live, Creator of all that is - including those who are gathered around these tables just now, we thank you for sending your Son Jesus to show the way and to be the way. Through him, you have washed us with your forgiveness such that our tears of joy flow freely. You have opened your arms like a waiting father and run to us while we were yet sinners, and welcomed us home - clothing and feeding us with your goodness and mercy. Upon the cross Jesus was broken, and his blood shed for us - a glory we cannot begin to fully fathom.

Bless this bread of remembrance to our eating. Bless this cup of new beginnings to our drinking, as we anticipate the day when we will sit as friends with our Lord and Savior at his heavenly banquet table, free at last. This we pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)


Interested in Sunday School?
Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit. As you discover others, please let us know.

International Lesson:
Faith and Life Resources

Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson:
Mennonite Weekly Review

(scroll down on left to "Sunday School lessons)

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

International Lesson:
Adult Bible Studies
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement" under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)

While one of our adult classes follows the International lesson above (see also), using
A Guide for Biblical Studies,
published quarterly by our denomination,
another class often uses one of the
Good Ground series.

For children and youth, we use the new
Gather Round curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2010 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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