The Meal

In the exchange of peace, we express our faith in a physical way. We turn toward one another, shaking hands or embracing, demonstrating our unity and mutual acceptance. Sharing the Peace of the Lord makes it unmistakably clear that worship is more than a spiritual experience. It is reminiscent of Matthew 5:23-24 where we are instructed to reconcile ourselves with our brothers and sisters before coming to the altar.  We are not alone in the Christian community; we are to be one with our brothers and sisters. The sharing of the peace is a moving, powerful expression of our unity with Christ and with each other. As the peace of Christ brings fellowship and reconciliation, the life of the Spirit is renewed among us in Christian community.

Our response of faith also takes concrete shape in the Offering. Here again, the service of worship and the service of the world merge into one. With our gifts we acknowledge that the world is God’s and not ours, and we show a commitment to reconciliation and justice. It is significant, too, that the gifts of bread and wine are presented during this time. This simple gesture acknowledges God as the Giver and looks forward in joyful anticipation to our receiving the great gift of his Son in bread broken and cup shared.

The note of joyful anticipation mounts with the beginning of the Great Thanksgiving. We join in the dialog that Christians have used for centuries in their gathering around the table of the Lord. Then we join the whole Communion of Saints in acclaiming and greeting the Holy One who is among us to give himself once more in bread and wine. In the “Holy, holy, holy,” Isaiah’s vision of God’s majesty in the temple (Isaiah 6:1-5) is joined with the song of praise sung at Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (“Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes ...,” Matthew 21:9).

As the Great Thanksgiving continues, God’s wonderful works and mighty acts are proclaimed. But it is especially in Jesus that all of God’s creating and saving activity comes to completion. Then we hear of that Last Supper and the gracious invitation to receive the very life of the one who was offered upon the cross for all people. We have come to the heart of our faith and thus we joyfully acclaim: “Christ has died! Christ is risen! Christ will come again!” We not only recall what has happened in Christ, but look forward in hope to his coming again. Finally we appeal to God for the life-giving power of his Spirit.

To conclude our thanksgiving we pray, “Our Father,” just as Jesus taught us. We go to the Lord’s table, confident of his mercy and love. The very Christ who died and rose victorious gives himself to us.  As such, we receive his gift with palms outstretched, truly receiving the gift of his body rather than snatching it from the hands of the server. 

This Gift from Christ is both a personal and a corporate experience. In the words “given for you” and “shed for you” the gospel is proclaimed to each individual. And yet we gather at the Lord’s table not as individuals but as fellow members of God’s family. We commune as fellow members of the body of Christ—the church—the Communion of Saints.

After Communion, we give thanks to God for his great gift. But even as we rejoice over what God has done, we are also pointed toward our life in the world. The Post-communion song and the closing prayer form the bridge between our Lord’s life-giving gift and our mission as his loving people. Our worship is to be carried on in our daily lives. After a closing hymn which focuses us on the mission field ahead, we are sent forth with his blessing to serve him and his world.

 
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PURPOSE: To unite as many persons as will share its confession of faith in a fellowship of Worship, Learning, Witness and Service that the Word of God in Jesus Christ may become effective in their lives together and individually.