Communion Liturgy for Epiphany: Cinnamon Stars
Below is a Communion Liturgy, written for Epiphany 2016, by Rev. Amy Pitton.
We remind one another: Jesus welcomes everyone at this table. No one is turned away. If you seek God’s presence, come and eat. If you are hungry for this spiritual food, come and eat. If you have questions and doubts, come and eat. If you feel unworthy, come and eat. This table is spread for all of us that we each might experience God’s abundant and unconditional love.
Jesus often ate with strangers. He ate with more than 5000 of them on a hillside at one point, even providing the food! But there is one story in particular that is told about Jesus with a stranger in the fourth chapter of the gospel of John. In the story, Jesus has left the Jewish region of Judea and has crossed over into Samaria. As we know from other stories in the gospels, good observant Jews did not associate with Samaritans because they were considered unclean. But in this story, Jesus stops to sit at a well, where a Samaritan woman comes to draw water. Jesus asks the woman for a drink, and she questions why he would ask her for a drink, as Jews and Samaritans did not even share things like water buckets. Jesus tells her that if she knew who she was talking to, she would be asking him for a drink of living water. They get into a long conversation that shows the woman that Jesus is a pretty amazing guy, and she goes back to tell others in the village about him. They are curious about her story, and they go to see Jesus at the well for themselves. They invite him to stay with them and unclean or not, he accepts their hospitality, staying for two days.
Since his birth, with the visit of the wise ones, strangers from the East, Jesus was not content to limit his welcome and message to his own people. Jesus was one who reached across human borders and boundaries, seeing in everyone a common heritage as a child of God. Whether it was magi from the East, or a woman from Samaria, or a leper from a nearby leper colony, Jesus welcomed them all.
This morning’s communion bread is a cinnamon bread in the shape of a star, reminding us of the star that lead the foreign dignitaries to find a warm welcome with Mary and Joseph and Jesus. We have two options for our cup this morning. We have our traditional grape juice, but we also have coffee. When we celebrate communion with coffee and a cinnamon roll, we remember that Jesus is not just about lavish holiday dinners around big tables with friends, but about everyday meetings around a coffee pot. Jesus is made manifest when we do something as simple as share a cup of coffee with a stranger, when we overcome our fears of the other and open ourselves to someone who may seem different but is more like us that we can imagine.
So remembering Jesus and his open-hearted welcome, let us pray.
Prayer of Consecration (adpated from the UCC Book of Worship)
We give you thanks, O God, for the mighty sweep of your love, that embraces all people and all nations. We thank you that you sent Jesus our teacher to us, who showed us the way to new life – a new life of love that gathers all of our diversity together in the one body in Christ.
Bless this meal that we will share together today. As this broken bread was once scattered grain on a hillside, and then when gathered, became one loaf, so may we be brought together to make something wonderful. As this cup of the new covenant was poured out so that all might share in the signs of new life, so may our lives be poured out in compassion for our brothers and sisters everywhere. For it is in the way of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Sharing the Bread and Cup
Through the broken bread, we ourselves are broken open so that we might be open to God’s spirit made manifest among us.
Through the poured out cup, we are inspired to pour ourselves out in generosity to the world.
The gifts of God for the people of God! Come for all things are now ready!
Generous God, we thank you that you have blessed our world with such diversity. Send us forth into the world that we might spread the good news of your love and care to all,
© Rev. Amy Pitton, 2016