by John Mark Comer
Begin with prayer (5 minutes)
Gather together as a Community in a comfortable setting (around a table, on the couch, the floor of a living room, etc.). Have somebody lead a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to lead and guide your time together.
Debrief last week’s Practice in triads (15-20 minutes)
If you are in a Community of seven or more, divide into small groups of 3–4 people each (ideally same gender).
Spend a few minutes catching up on life…
Then talk through the following debrief questions:
- Did you listen to the teaching? What did you think?
- What role has communion played in your life and apprenticeship to Jesus thus far?
Transition back to one large group (5 minutes)
Ask a few questions about the last week’s Practice:
- How are you guys feeling about this Practice of Eating & Drinking with God?
- What new ideas stood out to you as you heard about the history behind communion?
Read this overview
The Lord’s supper, communion, the eucharist - whatever you call this meal, it is at the core of the way of Jesus. In the early church, there’s no doubt it was the center of gravity in the weekly gathering. But a lot has changed over two millennial. Originally, it was a meal, not a bite of cracker and sip of juice. It was enjoyed around a table, not in a cathedral with pews. It was a joyful party more than a quiet, contemplative sacrament. And it was about communion with each other, not just communion with God. In fact, it was even a vehicle for social justice, as it gave food to the poor in the church and the city. But over time, the meal became the mass.
In this Practice, we explore repurposing our weekly meal with our Community as Jesus’ meal, or“the Lord’s supper.” What would it look like to turn our Tuesday night dinner back into the love feast?
Talk about the coming week’s Practice as a Community (10–30 minutes)
Here’s the Practice for the coming week:
- The basic idea this week is very simple: repurpose your meal together as communion.
- If you’re reading this, the odds are you already eat a weekly meal with your Community, so this is an easy step. For those of you not in a Community with a weekly meal, we invite you to join one, and in the meantime, get together with your family or a group of friends or other followers of Jesus in your neighborhood, set a night for dinner, and practice communion.
Exercise #1: Eat your meal as communion.
- Here’s a liturgy from the Didache, a gem of an archaeological find that was discovered in the 19th century, but dates back to the late first century, most likely in northern Israel. It’s a church manual of sorts, a “how-to” book. They offer a liturgy to guide and guard the meal.
- It comes with two prayers to pray as you begin (one for the bread, another for the cup), and then one to pray after “you have had enough to eat” (meaning, after dinner is over).
- Feel free to have the leader read this prayer, or read it all out loud together:
“Regarding the Eucharist, you shall give thanks as follows.
First, concerning the cup:
“We give you thanks, our Father, for the holy vine of David, your child, which you made known to us through Jesus your child. To you be the glory forever.
Next, concerning the broken bread:
“We give you thanks, our Father, for the life and knowledge that you made known to us through Jesus your child. To you be glory forever. As this broken bread was scattered upon the mountains and gathered to become one, so may your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. For the glory and power are yours through Jesus Christ forever.
And when you have had enough to eat, give thanks as follows:
“We give thanks, holy Father, for your holy name which you have made reside in our hearts, and for the knowledge, faith and immorality/deathlessness that you made known to us through Jesus your child. To you be glory forever.
You, O Master Almighty, created all things for the sake of your name, and gave both food and drink to humans for their refreshment, that they might give you thanks. And you graciously provided us with spiritual food and drink and eternal life through your child. Above all we thank you because you are powerful. To you be the glory forever.
Remember your church, O Lord; save it from all evil and perfect it in your love. And gather it from the four winds into your kingdom, which you prepared for it. For yours is the power and glory forever.
May grace come and this world pass away. Hosanna to the God of David. If anyone is holy let them come (to the Eucharist); if anyone is not, let them repent. Maranatha! Amen.
But permit the prophets to give thanks as often as they wish.
Exercise #2: Explore ideas for how to do this.
- Here’s a conversation guide for your post-dinner time, designed to get you thinking about how to do this each week.
- There’s no rulebook in the New Testament for how to practice communion; we have a lot of freedom.
- Generally, here’s a few best practices:
- 1. Somebody plays the role of host at the table. In the early church, it was usually the head of a household or an elder. We recommend it’s either your Community Leader, or somebody assigned for the task.
- 2. The leader calls the Community to repent of any sin toward God (or each other) and reconcile any relational tension in the Community before they come to the table.
- 3. A prayer of thanks begins the meal, and a prayer of invitation to the Spirit to make his presence known.
- 4. As you eat the meal, you eat with joy and gratitude and attempt to be present to the Spirit of Jesus, and each other. (i.e., put away your phone, stop worrying about that to-do list, and focus on God and the person across the table.)
- 5. In your meal planning, it’s ideal if the meal includes some kind of bread, and pairs with wine (or non-alcoholic juice). Some favorites are pita and falafel, or soup and bread, or wine and cheese nights, or even burrito nights (tortillas count as bread!).
- 6. Make sure all material needs are met. You might want to go around the table and make sure everybody has enough food, enough money to make rent, etc.
- 7. In closing there’s usually another prayer of thanks and/or a song.
- Spend some time as a Community dreaming up ideas for how to repurpose your weekly meal as communion.
Work through these discussion questions (10-15 minutes)
- Any thoughts, creative ideas, or feedback on this coming week’s Practice?
- Did tonight’s meal feel any different?
- Were you able to attend to Jesus’ presence at the table? To each other?