Sharing communion for complex lives

1. Create your own mosaic table for communion

A mosaic with blue, brown and white tilesIn our brokenness, God is with us. Making a little table or tray for the bread and wine at communion from some of the broken bits of our lives can speak of how God carries us and transforms us through those times of feeling broken.

You will need: a slim box (perhaps made of wood) that will become the frame for the mosaic; tile adhesive; tile grout; bits of broken tiles to fill out the gaps.

The week/month before the gathering, encourage everyone to bring a small broken object that means something to him or her - eg, a favourite broken cup or broken photo frame – or something that represents their brokenness. Make sure people understand that it is unlikely that these objects will be returned. Place all the objects tightly up against each another like a mosaic in a strong slim box. Glue them with tile adhesive, making sure to fill out any major gaps with broken tiles. When this has dried, fill around all the items with tile grout.

Another alternative would be to invite everyone to smash a number of different coloured and textured ceramic tiles. Great to do when you're angry about something! Invite everyone to pick a piece that will represent their brokenness, then follow the instructions above.

2. Communion table liturgy from Urban Seed

Seeds

You will need: a packet of seeds, a Bible; a food bowl; a bottle of oil.

Urban Seed (a Christian based organisation that prioritises and assists the homeless and marginalised in Melbourne, Australia) have put together a communion liturgy that they use in their daily Credo Café lunches. They take communion back into the context of the meal table, which seems like a good thing as that's where it was birthed.

(Holding up the packet of seeds)

Holy community of gracious hospitality, in the midst of our homelessness you extend us an invitation to Grow Home.

We thank you for your invitation to join the vocation of those who through the ages have vowed to grow new households of love. Set us free to share our wealth and may the poor always be with us. May we live in fidelity with your wild creative power, respecting the sacred connections between your Spirit, our bodies and all creation. May we only be obedient power. Grace us with mutual submission. Give us courage to give of ourselves with the same passion with which you lived and died.

Leader: Lord, hear us.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.

(Holding up the Bible)

May we know the Word. Not ancient words on a page, but the living Spirit of Christ among us. Guide us in our speech at this table, choosing our stories and story-ing our choices. May this table be rich in story. Give us strength to raise our voice and to discipline to listen for yours.

Leader: Lord, hear us.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.

(Holding up a bowl)

May we eat slow. Make us mindful of all that has been given and received in the process of production and consumption. (At this point mention could be made about different elements of the meal and what is known of their process of production.) May this meal reconcile us with God, creation and others. May our eyes be opened to your presence through the breaking of the bread, and may our eating bear witness to the meal to come, to which all are invited and where there is enough for all.

Leader: Lord, hear us.
All: Lord, hear our prayer.

(Holding up the bottle of oil)

May we leave this table energised to go and engage our world. To speak truth to the powers and to each other; to name and cast out that which is evil in our world and within; and in the midst of our brokenness, may we know and share your healing power; your gracious hospitality to us.

Leader: Lord, hear us.
All: Lord, hear our prayer. Amen.

Taken from Jonny Baker's blog

3. Jesus was always for a good supper

Bread and wine for communionYou will need: four readers; bread on a plate and wine in a goblet; quiet reflective instrumental music (optional).

Here is one of Roddy Hamilton's communion liturgies from his Mucky Paws series.

Jesus ate with people a lot. It was where most of his work was done in changing individuals. Jesus found that the cause of heaven was found at work at a family meal table far more than in all the pulpits of the world. Here we reflect on some of those meal stories and invite you at the end, if you feel comfortable, to share bread and wine by coming up and tearing a piece of bread, dipping it in the cup and enjoying that way. Break, dip and eat the bread of life and the wine of the new covenant. But listen first and hear, perhaps, your own story in among these meal stories.

Person 1:
Once I had climbed down the tree,
after Jesus invited himself for lunch,
at my house,
the tax collector,
I found I wasn't that hungry.
Not for food anyway.
I was hungry for change:
My own change,
and watching him enjoy lunch,
and hearing him talk through mouthfuls
as he opened up the way of faith,
I had had my fill.
I chose to change.
I thought it would have happened in the synagogue
as I was preached at by one of those powerful preachers,
but it was round my own meal table,
over Tuesday afternoon lunch,
and plain breaking of bread,
that I was convinced and convicted.
I was hungry for this new life Jesus offered,
and I have lived on the bread of life ever since.

Breaking breadPerson 1 goes to the table, breaks a piece off the bread, dips it in the wine and eats. Return to seat.

Person 2:
Once I had found my lunch basket among the crowd,
and had spoken to one of the disciples
of my five loaves and two fish,
I discovered my basket contained a miracle
all wrapped up in an old dishcloth.
It was a sharing miracle,
and as Jesus thanked God,
and people saw what I had done,
they found themselves doing it too:
sharing what they had.
It was the biggest miracle I had seen,
ever!
People finding themselves sharing with each other.
And Jesus smiled to himself,
noticed me watching with big saucer eyes,
and winked at me
as if I was in on the secret.
We fed the poor that day;
we fed the stranger;
we fed the world,
not with some high powered ethical church resolution,
but with a picnic!
I was hungry for this new way of living together,
and I have lived on the bread of life ever since.

RollsPerson 2 goes to the table, breaks a piece off the bread, dips it in the wine and eats. Return to seat.

Person 3:
Once I had invited all the guests
I was glad to see Jesus among them.
A Pharisee ought to be seen to do the right thing
and so Jesus had been invited too and sat among us.
As food was served, we listened to the words of Jesus.
But it wasn't his words that charged that meal,
it was what Jesus did,
because just as we were about to begin,
a harlot came into the house,
with an alabaster jar,
and anointed his feet,
and he let her!
If he had been the prophet I thought he was,
he would have known about her,
but he turned to me and reminded me
I had forgotten to bath my guest's feet.
She was doing that now, to his.
I was silenced.
Then round that meal table
he forgave her sins.
Everyone was silenced.
But he ignored us, turned to her, and told her again she was forgiven.
That meal time I lost my appetite for food,
and gained an appetite for this new way,
and I have lived on the bread of life ever since.

Breaking breadPerson 3 goes to the table, breaks a piece off the bread, dips it in the wine and eats. Return to seat.

Person 4:
Once I had prepared the room
and the meal had been cooked -
lamb and herbs and bread and wine -
we gathered together,
singing and talking.
It flowed into our eating:
memories and pictures from the last three years.
But here we were now in Jerusalem
ready to watch heaven break through.
But then the zealot stood up, having tried to force heaven's hand;
and the betrayer too denying everything, as he would;
and the rest of us misunderstanding and confused,
and from among us Jesus took bread and wine,
and filled them with promise,
not just this bread and wine but every plate and cup since,
filled them with vision for justice,
promise of a new way,
and the call to become such, in community,
filled with struggle and hope.
The bread tasted flat and the wine was bitter.
It's not a taste you grow accustomed to.
They just make you hungry again, but for justice,
and I know I want to live on the bread of life evermore.

Person 4 goes to the table, breaks a piece off the bread, dips it in the wine and eats. Return to seat.

Everyone is invited to tear bread and dip it in the wine to eat as music is played.