Sunday, 5 January 2014

A work of the people - Communion from scratch

We started January at Wesley Hall Crookes, as we do every month, with an all-age worship service, but this month it was slightly different in that it involved Communion as well. We have a team of people who take responsibility for planing all-age worship once a month, and in planning the service, we thought about how we could perhaps make the service a little different and more interactive, to involve the children as well as the adults who were there.

Instead of working round a pre-prepared liturgy we decided to build our own from scratch, working from the premise that the root of 'liturgy' is 'the work of the people'. So we came to the service with nothing concrete planned, other than a choice of songs to sing: no prayers, no bread and no 'wine'. We built the service from that.

The church benefits from having a reasonably flexible worship space, and we had arranged the room so that the Communion table was in the centre, with chairs arranged around it. Two projectors were set up so that words for songs and video clips could be seen by everyone.

We began with singing (after announcements and a brief explanation of what we were hoping would happen during our time together), after which we began to prepare the bread and 'wine' for later. Dough for the bread had been prepared earlier, and this was passed round the congregation for everyone to knead (having cleansed their hands). Then grapes were handed out, and everyone was invited to squeeze their grape into the chalice. Thus everyone present had contributed to the Body & Blood of Christ that we would share later: they had all (literally) had a hand in the communion. As we passed a bowl and towel around the congregation, so that hands could be washed, we reminded one another of the cleansing that is ours through the death & resurrection of Jesus that this meal signifies. The bread then disappeared to the oven to bake.

After another song, we divided the congregation into six groups with pointers for composing our prayer of thanksgiving for use later, focusing on Creation, the World, our Community, Family & Friends, the Gifts we all have, and God's gift to us of Jesus. We sang again, and then shared prayers for others as boxes with prayer pointers & requests were passed round the congregation, followed by the Lord's Prayer together.

After the offering had been received, and the bread, still hot from the oven, had been placed on the table, representatives from each group shared their portion of the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving. We then shared the Narrative of Institution through a video clip of the Last Supper from 'The Bible' TV mini-series, before the bread and 'wine' were shared around the congregation. One final song, reminding us of our place in God's family, before joining hands to share the Grace together.