At the Lord's Table

 

     "Love Feast" is one of our most important times of worship. It takes place twice a year: during the week before Easter, and on World Communion Sunday (usually the first Sunday of October). Any baptized believer in Jesus Christ is welcome to participate. We gather in the evening for a time of quiet preparation in the sanctuary. Then, following what Jesus instructed in John 13:1-17, we wash each other's feet. For this part of the service, we sit in circles of chairs (men and women are separated at this point for practical reasons). As we sing familiar hymns, we take turns getting down on our knees. There we wash the feet of the person next to us in a small tub and dry them with a towel. Our feet are washed as well.

     Giving to and receiving loving care from another is an important part of our life in Christ. Out of this simple act has flowed our desire to be Christ's "servants in God's world," as well as our emphasis upon peacemaking. The tub and towel is a significant symbol for us.

     Following the feetwashing, we enjoy a simple meal around the table of the Lord. This time men and women sit together. We call this part the "agape (which means "God's love") meal." When finished, we then share in a service of communion, breaking bread together across the tables and prayerfully eating it, drinking in unison from the Lord's cup (actually many little cups, filled with grape juice not wine).
      As we understand it, communion is not so much a sacrament (though there is a sacredness to the act) as it is an ordinance. We break bread and drink from his cup because Jesus calls us to do so. It is a matter of simple obedience. Through the bread and cup we remember his death for us, as well as the resurrection life he gives to us out of this death. Furthermore, in the broken body of Christ, represented by the bread, we also see the body which the apostle Paul called the church. As the last line in the first hymn of our hymnal states:

"And we accept bread at his table,
broken and shared, a living sign.
Here in this world, dying and living,
we are each other's bread and wine."
(Huub Oosterhuis, 1968)

     All told, this meaningful service takes a little over an hour, with child care provided. If you were to join us, you would be free to just observe certain parts of it. Some find the feetwashing uncomfortable at first, as well as the hug and "holy kiss" which follows, but later discover it to be the most valuable part of the experience. In today's world, "touch" has taken on a different meaning or is almost non-existent so that the simplicity of this heart-felt expression is great medicine.

     We do share just the communion portion of Love Feast at two other times during the year, as part of a Sunday morning worship, in both January and July.

     For more information on the Brethren understanding and practice of communion, follow this link.

     To see some sample Love Feast orders of worship, follow this link.

  

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