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Communion — Family faith formation @ home: August 15, 2021

 

Welcome 

Invite various persons to bring a designated item and use this liturgy to begin your time of learning together. 

One:    Come, let us gather around and see how the Spirit will nurture our faith today.

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Christ, the light of the world.
(Place a candle on a table in your gathering place and light it.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:   The Love of God, who came to meet us in the world.
(Place a cross on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Wisdom of God, who speaks through the Scriptures.
(Place an open Bible on a table in your gathering place.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    The Grace of God, who proclaims we are children of God.
(Place a symbol of baptism – a bowl of water, a seashell – on a table in your gathering space.)

All:      Who is with us?
One:    Our risen Lord, who meets us at the table.
(Place a symbol of communion – a plate and cup, a loaf of bread, grapes – on a table in your gathering space.)

One:    We are here, Holy Spirit, ready for your leading.

God sightings and prayer offerings 

Invite each person to share where they saw or experienced God this week. Invite each person to share something — a person, community, experience, event, etc. – for which they want to offer prayer. 

Good and gracious God, we thank you for all the ways you were and are present in our lives and in the world. [Invite each person to say aloud the sighting they named earlier.] We bring our prayers to you, prayers for… [invite each person to say aloud the prayer need they named earlier]. In Christ’s name we pray, Amen

Connecting with Scripture: John 6:51-58

Read the Scripture aloud the first time using the New Revised Standard Version or the Common English Bible.

As this is a continuation of the conversation between Jesus, the disciples and the crowd, use the same method for the second reading. Invite someone to read the narrator part, another to read the words of Jesus and the remaining people to read the crowd part.

Connecting through story

Read through the words of these three hymns used in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper asking the following questions of each:

  • In what ways do the lyrics of this hymn connect with today’s text?
  • In what ways do the lyrics of this hymn deepen our understanding, and/or experience, of Communion?

Hymns:

Connecting with our lives

Engage in dialogue:

  • What do you think Jesus meant when we said he was the “living bread”?
  • What is the difference between abiding/living in Christ and Christ abiding/living in us?
  • How are the two connected?
  • How is living as if Christ abides in us and us in him different from the way others live?
  • In what ways is it easy/difficult to live as if Christ abides in us and we in him?
  • What keeps us steady and strong in our commitment live in this way?
  • What Communion themes do you see/hear in this text?
  • Where do you hear the themes of this text in the liturgy at the Lord’s Table?
  • Why do you think the two are so strongly connected?
  • In what ways does Communion strengthen and steady you to live as one in whom Christ abides?

Teaching points that can be incorporated into your discussion:

  • This is the third week where the texts are closely related. Two weeks ago, we explored the story of the ancient Israelites in the wilderness who were hungry, cried out to God and God provided bread from heaven to eat. Last week, the people asked for a sign so they would know God continues to provide and Jesus said told them he was the bread of life. This week Jesus continues to explain who he is and how God’s providence is enduring.
  • Today’s text is replete with images and themes from the Lord’s Supper.
  • In the Reformation, John Calvin moved our theology away from the belief that the bread and the wine become the actual, physical flesh and blood of Christ to an understanding that our Risen Lord meets us at the Table. He is a very real presence in the communal meal he hosts.
  • Communion reminds us that God is with us and that Christ abides in us. It renews our strength and our commitment to live in the world in ways that witness to the living presence of Christ and the continuation of his ministry.
  • In the liturgy spoken at the Lord’s Table, often referred to as the Words of Institution, we hear themes from today’s text (Book of Common Worship):

The Lord Jesus, on the night of his arrest, took bread, and after giving thanks to God, 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 he 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. Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup you proclaim the saving death of the risen Lord, until he comes.

  • Questions may arise, depending on the ages of those gathered in your family, about the meaning of “live forever,” as used in today’s text. While there is no shortage of vampire-themed movies and television shows, that myth’s lore of beings who live endlessly on earth is not the same. When Christ speaks of “living forever” it is in reference the eternal life in Christ we receive through his life, death and resurrection — a resurrection he graciously shares with us that we may forever live in the presence of God.
  • While today’s text may explicitly mention “living forever,” the whole of Scripture’s witness focuses more on how we live in the here and now rather than a future life. We can find great comfort and assurance in the opening lines of the PC(USA)’s Brief Statement of Faith:

In life and in death we belong to God.
Through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit,
we trust in the one triune God, the Holy One of Israel,
whom alone we worship and serve.

As a family profess your faith through the Brief Statement of Faith by reading the first and last paragraphs in unison (including the final tagline) and by each person reading one line of the text in between. Continue to take turns reading a line until you reach the final unison paragraph.

Prayer

Close your time together by praying for one another, your neighbor, community and the world.

 

REBECCA DAVIS is the associate professor of Christian education at Union Presbyterian Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina. A teaching elder and certified educator, she served congregations for over 20 years before moving into academic teaching. In addition to teaching and mentoring students, her passion is child advocacy and ministry.

 

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