Today, our focus was on the road to Emmaus with those disciples who for whatever reason had to get out of town! Maybe they had to go back to work, maybe they were tired and frightened, maybe they had family waiting for them, whatever the reason, on that first Easter Day, they headed out to Emmaus.
This was a work day, the first day of the week and following passover. As we know the story, Jesus went with them. They didn’t recognize Christ but he was there. I have pondered this a great deal. How often am I, are you, on the road we call life and Jesus walks with us and somehow we don’t know it.
In this time of pandemic, I have been more intentional to open my heart and my eyes and my spirit to see where God is at work in the world. In worship, I shared a love feast liturgy. On that Easter evening, at that table Jesus was seen and recognized not in a “sacrament” but in a hastily put together dinner.
I think it is important for us to find those sacramental moments when we are at breakfast or lunch or dinner and invite Jesus to part of our gathering at the table. During the sermon I referenced a Carrie Newcomer song “Holy as the Day a spent” that speaks to these holy and sacred ordinary moments. “Unknowingly we slow our pace in the shade of unexpected grace. And with grateful smiles and sad lament as holy as a day is spent.”
This pandemic has slowed our pace and if we look we can see and experience unexpected grace with both smiles and lament. Our days are holy, ever moment when we open to resurrected Christ in our midst.
The reason I wanted to have people participate in a Love Feast is because it is ordinary. The Love Feast does not require special elements or a pastor or a church space or anything other than a willingness to ask Jesus to be present. This meal can slow our pace and we can experience that unexpected and amazing grace.
I invited the congregation and I invite you to connect with someone over a meal: through FaceTime or Zoom or Skype or even a phone call if there is no one in your home right now. Following the link where you can find todays full service and/or just the sermon, I will post the entire liturgy.
My prayer is that we find new and wondrous ways to recognize the risen Christ in our midst! Christ is Risen! Christ is Risen, Indeed! You can find today’s worship service here.
Invitation to the Love Feast
In the earliest days of the Church, Christians gathered to share meals, putting together their resources so that all might feast at the table and share Communion together. Over time, the celebration of Communion became the community meal. In the 16th century, a group of Christians called Moravians resurrected the practice of sharing food together in worship, sharing a simple meal together with songs and prayers as a reminder of God’s goodness and their fellowship.
Today we gather for a virtual/online love feast, which is a way of expressing the sharing, belonging and fellowship we have together as followers of Jesus.
A key part of it is to share testimony – how your story is part of God’s story. Following the end of our televised/online service, I will invite to continue to share your testimony with whoever may be at table with you.or If you are alone, I invite you to pick up the phone or facetime or skype or call your bestie, your prayer partner, a family member, someone who would share this time with you. Here are some of the questions you can reflect on in your table time together:
My life is different because I believe God has…
My Life is different because God has challenged my….
This week I have seen God at work…
Today I am thankful for…
I have seen the risen Christ…
Or you can something that happened in worship today that moved you, or that made you pause, or that you are pondering and contemplating. It is where you are. It is who you are. No need to pretend. It is your testimony. A second key part is to share food and drink – bread, crackers, cheese, fruit, a sandwich, and water or juice or tea or coffee or soda. As you share, you also eat together. You can begin the sharing of food and drink with one of these prayers:
Holy God, we thank you that wherever we are you are with us. We praise you that in Christ we have new life. Unite us in this worship by your Holy Spirit that we may each know your blessing. Amen.
Be present at our table, Lord; be here and everywhere adored; Thy creatures bless, and grant that we may feast in paradise with Thee. Amen.
Father of earth and heaven, Thy hungry children feed, Thy grace be to our spirits given, that true immortal bread. Grant us and all our race in Jesus Christ to prove the sweetness of thy pardoning grace, the manna of thy love. (this prayer was written by Charles Wesley specifically for use at a love feast. Both Charles and John Wesley encouraged this prayer to be said or sung to the tune in United Methodist Hymnal 144 at every love feast)
Pray for the needs of people who are on your mind and heart. Thank God for being with everyone who shares in this love feast. Consider making a practical response to God’s love for example by donating to your local church, a food bank or any other outreach ministry that is near and dear to your heart.
You may use anytime you want to gather with people you love in person or online. Giving thanks and gathering is a gift to one another and a way to share faith.
The modern history of the Love Feast began when Count Zinzendorf and the Moravians in Germany introduced a service of sharing food, prayer, religious conversation, and hymns in 1727. John Wesley first experienced it among the Moravians in Savannah, Georgia, ten years later. His diary notes: “After evening prayers, we joined with the Germans in one of their love–feasts. It was begun and ended with thanksgiving and prayer and celebrated in so decent and solemn a manner as a Christian of the apostolic age would have allowed to be worthy of Christ.”
Copyright: “The Love Feast” Copyright © 1992 UMPH.