Invitation to the Meal
We come to this table, not because it itself is so special,
but because it is an echo of another table,
a table that stretches as far as the eye can see
a table that is laden with God’s good gifts
a table where no one goes hungry, or sits alone.
A table where everyone we ever loved
and who ever loved us
sits and feasts together.
In our own lives, we sit at tables
where there are empty chairs
people we love and miss
people who no longer stop by for dinner
or come in for the holidays.
We grieve those empty chairs,
but know that in Christ,
our separation is only a temporary thing.
As I light the candles,
I invite you to think about the saints in your life
the people whose memory you carry in your heart.
Once the candles are lit, I invite you to name them aloud.
[names may be spoken by the congregation]
For all those we have mentioned in your presence, God,
we give thanks,
and come gladly to this table
to eat once more with those we love
to join with all the saints
all our saints
in praising Jesus Christ,
who defeated death
and leads us all to God’s heavenly banquet.
All are welcome here.
The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving + The Lord’s Prayer
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is truly right to give you thanks, God,
creator of all we know,
all that is seen and unseen.
You formed the worlds,
every star and tree and ocean the work of your hands
But more than dust and clay,
you breathed your breath into us,
made us in your image,
walked with us in the garden,
and even when death crept in,
you refused to abandon us.
You found a way.
Still, death haunted your people
in Egypt, where they faced slavery,
in the Promised Land, where they chose war,
in Babylon, where they were forced to live in exile.
Even in good times, not all flourished.
Hunger and poverty, arrogance and greed
all threatened the life of your people.
So you sent your prophets,
to remind them to be good to each other,
and that death and war and exile never have the last word,
that you would always return
to redeem and rescue.
That there was nowhere they could go—
not even down to the pits of Sheol—
where you were not present with them.
In time you sent your Son to walk among us,
fully God, fully human,
who ate and laughed and made friends
who taught and healed and forgave sinners
who called out hypocrites
and risked safety for the sake of your kingdom
who wept when his friend Lazarus died
who knew grief and loss as we do.
Death haunted Jesus too—
he always knew it would be part of his story—
but in a single breath he moved from fearing death
to trusting you—
Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me;
yet, not my will but yours be done.
And so Jesus was crucified, and his friends began to grieve.
But grief only lasted three days,
because while death was part of Jesus’ story
it was not the end.
Jesus broke death’s power
because he showed us
once and for all
that God’s love is stronger than death.
Death need no longer haunt us.
It is a shadow,
fleeing before the burning light of God.
Therefore we praise you,
joining our voices with choirs of angels,
and with that great multitude
no one can count,
from every nation,
from all tribes and peoples and languages
all the ordinary saints
who have finished their race
and sing forever to the glory of your name:
“Salvation belongs to our God
who is seated on the throne,
and to the Lamb!”
Spirit, move in us,
that we might know we too are counted among the saints
God’s beloved children,
vessels of God’s grace
We pray that we might be thankful and transformed,
so our lives may proclaim the one crucified and risen.
Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen,
Christ will come again.
Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us,
and upon these your gifts of bread and wine,
that the bread we break together, and the cup we share together,
may remind us of that in ordinary things your love is found
in ordinary lives your grace is known
and in ordinary days we can find your presence.
Keep us breaking bread together in joy and in faith
until you return to this world you love
this earth you made, and this people you cherish.
Until that day, we lift our prayer to you,
using the words recited by all generations, saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil,
for thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory forever. Amen.
The Words of Institution
On the night before Jesus died, when he knew he would not be with his disciples much longer, he gave them a sign to remember him by. First he took the bread from the table, the Lord and after giving thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying: Take, eat. This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way Jesus took the cup, saying: This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.
Sharing of the Bread and Cup
We take communion by the ancient practice of intinction. You are welcome to come forward, receive a piece of the bread, dip it in the cup, and return to your seat.
The feast is ready.
Jesus Christ, lamb and shepherd,
we remember you here,
as we remember all your saints.
Help us to remember you
not just in this sanctuary
but in our homes and schools
our cars and offices
to remember that every part of our life is shot through with your grace
and that we are never alone
but surrounded by a cloud of witnesses
united by your love. Amen.