Invitation to the Table in worship

In this month’s edition of “Create in Me,” we’re discussing food. The Rev. Rebecca Craver shares her thoughts on using David Melby-Gibbons song, “This Food” from Sing to the Lord a New Song as part of a communion service. Then, the Rev. Brian Dixon inteviews Joy Witkowski, the food & beverage manager at Mt. Morris Camp & Conference Center in Wautoma, Wisconsin.

Think about how we prepare for Thanksgiving or Christmas meals. The sense of celebration is mixed in with the ordinary rhythms of preparing a meal. We anticipate more faces, movement and conversations around the table. We have lots of expectations because these are special meals in our years of life.

How often do we consider our expectations around the Lord’s Supper? It is also a special meal, mixed with the regular rhythm of worship and discipleship. It is not difficult to imagine that our celebrations of Holy Communion can be so much a part of our practice that we just go with the flow. So how do we keep the excitement and anticipation present for this meal? This question is important whether we celebrate communion each time we gather for worship or at various times during the year.

With this in mind, I want to consider how “This Food” could be used in a communion service to instigate a more intentional and anticipatory reception of the bread and cup. Following the right hand of fellowship in preparation for communion, I would plan a procession of people from the congregation to bring in the elements of communion while the song plays. Imagine watching the table being set, first the tablecloth, then the plate(s) of bread and the cup(s) of wine or juice while listening to an upbeat song of invitation. Then once the table is set, I would have the congregation sing along a second time with the recording. This song moves you. I literally cannot hear it without dancing a bit and clapping along. With its tempo and feel, it sets a tone of engagement and energy around the table.  A reminder that the Lord’s Supper is life giving and sends us out into the word to live the Gospel out. If nothing else it would probably stir us up a bit from the well-known ritual of the Lord’s Supper and help us to enter into the renewal of our commitment to follow Christ into the world, individually and communally.

I would introduce it through the produced recording by Dust of the Saints, the band made up of David Melby-Gibbons and his spouse Rev. Christie Melby-Gibbons, from their 2015 album “Oh…” (It is available on iTunes). You can also check their band out at https://www.facebook.com/dustofthesaints/.

The Rev. Rebecca Craver is pastor of Edmonton Moravian Church in Edmonton, Alberta.

About “This Food”

This hymn was inspired by our weekly “Open Table” dinners held at the Moravian Church of Downey. The food came from a local grocery store where it had reached its “sell by” date. This free weekly meal was put together by volunteers who came early to help set the table and cook. While eating at Open Table, you could often hear people say, “This is so good!” You could also hear people confess, “I don’t really come for the food—I come for the fellowship.” Open Table brought together homeless people, local neighbors, millionaires, meat-eaters, vegetarians and folks from a range of cultural backgrounds and social outlooks. The conversation was often full of laughter, sometimes serious and typically quite gritty. Open Table was an extension of the Sunday morning table of Holy Communion. (Or maybe it is the Communion table.) This meal sustained us through some difficult moments as a community. We marvel at how there was always enough food, and that very often, there were plates and storage containers full of leftovers!

by David Melby-Gibbons