Special -- All are invited to the table
Prayer for the Table on World Communion Sunday/Neighbors in Need Special Offering
Twenty-Sixth Sunday of Ordinary time
On World Communion Sunday, many congregations emphasize the variety and unity of the Church throughout the world by adorning the Communion table in colors and patterns that are peculiar to other peoples, using breads of different textures and colors from a variety of cultures, or offering the prayers of the people in multiple languages. It is also customary to incorporate hymns, gestures and responses that may present to us the richness and diversity of the Church’s worship throughout the world. The New Century Hymnal has many such hymns and responses. Other resources, available from the Pilgrim Press, include Gifts of Many Cultures by Kathy Wonson Eddy and Maren C. Tirabassi, music from the Taize and Iona communities may be used as well.
Because the Neighbors in Need Special Offering is also designated for World Communion Sunday, worship planners should take care to underscore the dimensions of the Eucharistic celebration that remind us of our human brokenness and lack of solidarity with our neighbors
and that assure us of God’s reconciling work in the risen Christ. Every time we celebrate Holy Communion, we tell a great saving story to the praise of God. This story takes on an even deeper meaning on this Sunday when we place ourselves mindfully in the presence of Christians, far and near, whose basic human claim on us does not depend on a common faith.
Often on World Communion Sunday, congregations organize processions to present the bread and cup at the table in a festive way, especially if the gifts being presented make more palpable the diversity and unity of the Church. It may also further connect the two themes of this Sunday to bring forward at this same time the congregation’s morning offering, including the NIN envelopes, and to dedicate them with a brief prayer thanking God for our solidarity with all creation at the table of Christ. A doxology or other hymn may be sung to conclude the offering, and the Communion service proper may begin.
One: Dear friends, the Spirit of God gives life to the world!
All: Life that never ends!
One: Here and now Christ feeds the world!
All: Plenty for all, enough for today!
One: Come to the table of justice and joy!
All: No one will be turned away! No neighbor in need will go wanting!
One: Let praise go up to God our Life!
All: From every creature on God’s good earth!
One: How right it is to praise you, gracious God, for in the beginning, when the world was fresh from your hand, you made us neighbors — one people in many kinds — and lavished on us pleasures too many to name or know!
For you we were a sheer delight. For each other, helpers and friends.
And so you entrusted to us your justice and your joy.
But we kept them for a few and denied them to many, creating worlds of poverty and pain. And so we broke each other’s hearts.
But you did not reject us.
In the fullness of time you gave us Jesus, full of grace and truth.
By his ministry of mercy, you restored us to each other and to you.
Mending our hearts and repairing the world.
And by his Spirit you impel us even now to be for each other what he is for us — pardon and peace, blessing and delight.
For all your gifts, we thank you!
And with everything that lives under, on, and above the world, we give you glory, and we praise your name!
Here a traditional Sanctus or another hymn of praise may be sung. On World Communion/NIN Sunday, a song from another tradition or language would be particularly fitting, such as TNCH # 793, #760, #758.
The people may now be seated in the pews, come forward and stand around the table, or be seated at the table, depending on the size of the assembly and the characteristics of the room where the celebration is being held.
One: And now, O God, we remember Jesus.
A brief silence may be observed here so that the congregation and worship leaders may remember Jesus meditatively. After the silence, the celebrant continues.
One: We remember that he forgave our sins.
All: He breathed on us the peace of God.
One: We remember that he called us friends.
All: He taught us to love each other as he loved us.
One: We remember that he feasted with the poor and rich, with strangers and friends.
All: To eat with him was to taste how good you are.
Words of Institution
One: And we remember that on the night he was handed over, while at supper with his friends, he gave us a pledge of love that does away with death.
He took bread, gave thanks for it, broke it, and gave it to the disciples, saying:
Take and eat, all of you: This is my body, surrendered for you.
And when the supper was over, he took a cup filled with wine, gave thanks for it, and shared it with them, saying:
Take and drink, all of you: This is the seal of a new covenant, my poured-out life.
I will drink this cup with you again at the table of God's joy in the New Day that is coming.
Whenever you do these things, remember me.
See examples at TNCH # 796-799.
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
One: Come, Holy Spirit, bless this bread that the earth has given and human hands have made.
All: May it be for all the Bread of Life!
One: Bless also this cup, fruit of the vine and work of human hands.
All: May it be for all the Cup of Peace!
One: Bless us too, that by our eating and drinking we may have love for each other and be servants of Christ’s peace, until the New Day comes and every creature finds an honored place at the Banquet of Life!
All: We pray in the name of the Risen One, who is with us now, and to the end of the age!
One: He taught us to say - The Lord’s Prayer (unison)
Sharing Bread and Cup
In his or her own words, the presiding minister or a deacon now invites the people to eat and drink together, rejoicing in Christ. A brief response to this invitation may be sung if desired, such as TNCH # 783. Instructions about the manner in which communion will be shared may then follow.
After all have received the bread and cup, the people may rise and give thanks together.
One: Let us give thanks to God in union with each other, with Christians everywhere, and with the poor and suffering neighbor, in whom we daily meet the living Christ.
All: Thank you, God, for life in the Spirit of Jesus: for gladness in this bread and cup, for love that cannot die, for peace the world cannot give, for joy in the company of friends, for the glory of creation, and for the mission of justice you have made our own.
Give us the gifts of this holy communion: oneness of heart, love for neighbors, forgiveness of enemies, the will to serve you every day, and life that never ends.
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
A Blessing and Commission may be given here, followed by a closing hymn or acclamation. If a Sign of Peace has not already been shared among the people elsewhere in the service, offering it here may also be a good way to close the celebration.
TNCH refers to hymns or resources from The New Century Hymnal (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1995). Similar resources may be found in other hymnals
The Rev. Dr. J. Mary Luti is the Senior Minister of First Church in Cambridge, Congregational, UCC, in Cambridge, MA. Copyright 2006, Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, Cleveland. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved.