Together for a Meal

An Interactive and Intergenerational Worship Service for Home and Small Gatherings

This liturgy was created for home worship during Lent in 2020, when so many of our churches were not meeting in person due to COVID-19. We offer it here for those individuals and congregations who for any number of reasons are not be able to meet in person, for households who would like to worship together, and for worshiping communities small and large that would like to adapt this for their own interactive and intergenerational worship. —JB

While this liturgy is in no way a sacrament, it mimics sacramental patterns and themes as we gather around a table together. ​Every meal, from the simple to the extraordinary, is a gift from God.

Things to note about this liturgy:

  • Some sections have multiple options. Choose which serves your gathering best.
  • There are some questions in beige. Use these questions as you see fit: as points to enter into discussion or reflection; as prompts for silent prayer; or, having a younger child read the questions, as opportunity for further explanations.
  • There are points where multiple songs are suggested to give variety based on familiarity or preference; use them as you desire. There are links to resources when available. Some groups may have easier access to music to use. Some will pick different songs. Some may use these to create a playlist to listen to. Some may choose not to use singing voices or any music in their time together at all. All these options fit within the theme of this liturgy.

Arriving: Washing and Remembering

Handwashing
As you gather together, intentionally wash your hands in front of one another and reflect on and/or discuss:

  • Why are we washing our hands?
  • How the act of washing our hands has lately been a reminder of social distancing and fear of contact with others.
  • How the washing of our baptism has the opposite effect. Despite distance and difference, we are united with Christ and with others through our baptism.

Scripture Reading
1 Corinthians 12:12–14

Song Options
“Baptized in Water​” Saward, LUYH 790, GtG 482, SSS 666
“Holy Water​” We the Kingdom
“Ten Thousand Reasons” Redman and Myrin, LUYH 559, SSS 440
“Deep and Wide​” video by Crossroads Kids Club

Gathering Together: Enjoying One Another’s Presence

Option 1

Potluck style—Set your table

Option 2

From scratch: Meal prep together (keep everyone involved)

  • Can your kids create colorful place settings?
  • Can your friends who don’t like to cook set the table or contribute to preparing the meal in other ways?

At the Table: Setting the Stage

Reflection
As you stand/sit around the meal, reflect on and/or discuss:

  • Why does this meal feel different from others we’ve had around this table?

Scripture Reading
Acts 2:42

Giving Thanks: For the Meal and for God’s Action in the World

Option 1

Dedicated Prayer, Scripture, and Song Blocks of Time
Open the meal with a trinitarian prayer that gives thanks and praise for God’s actions in the past, present, and future—for example:

Holy and Almighty God, who has formed the stars over our heads, the grass beneath our feet, and the heart that beats in our chests: We celebrate your providential love for us through the gift of your Son. We somberly remember his perfect sacrifice on the cross and celebrate his resurrection with joy that bursts from us in love and compassion for others. We anticipate his return by joining the work of the Spirit, who moves in us and around us. Be with us, those who are gathered around this table, and those who are separated by distance and time. Nourish us in mind, spirit, and body as we eat together, and keep our hearts attuned to those who are especially struggling at this time (​lift up concerns). Thank you for gathering us together for this meal and joining us as one in Christ’s most holy name. Amen.

Read Luke 24:13–32 at some point during or at the end of the meal.

Choose a song or several from those found under Option 2 to sing together, or include some of your own that reflect the reading or the atmosphere of the meal.

Option 2

Conversation as Prayer
Begin with a short opening prayer asking God to open our minds and hearts to hearing from each other and from God; ask God’s blessing on the meal sharing.

Offer prompts to encourage discussion and reflection over the course of eating together. You can use the questions as entry points. Allow this to be a time where you both ​notice ​and ​give thanks ​for the ways you have experienced, seen, and heard of God’s work. These contributions can be a single word or an entire story. Finish each time of discussion with any or all of the suggested Scripture, songs, or stories from your child’s favorite story Bible.

God Almighty’s work in creation

  • Why do we call God faithful/providential/Creator?

Potential ideas to finish this section:

  • Scripture: Psalm 8
  • Song Suggestions:

          “Let All Things Now Living​” Davis, LUYH 5, GtG 37, SSS 23
          “All Things Bright and Beautiful​” Alexander, LUYH 20, GtG 20, SSS 1
          “So Will I (100 Billion X)”​ Hillsong
          “Awesome God​” Mullins, GtG 616, CH 179, WR 658
          (or try a different version by Proclaim Children’s Choir, tinyurl.com/y46vd937)

Reading from a Children’s Bible: The Creation Story

Christ’s saving work in our lives

  • What do we mean when we talk about Jesus saving us? What is he saving us from?

Potential ideas to finish this section:

  • Scripture: Luke 24:13–32
  • Song Suggestions:

          “He Is Lord​” Frey, LUYH 227, SSS 658
          “Mighty to Save” Morgan and Fielding, LUYH 611 (try the ​Michael W. Smith version)
          “Forever​ (We Sing Hallelujah)” Jobe
          “Jesus Loves Me”​ Warner, McGuire, LUYH 709, GtG 188, SSS 570

Reading from a Children’s Bible: The Resurrection Story

The Holy Spirit moving in, through, and around us

  • How do we know the Spirit is actually with us?

Potential ideas to finish this section:

  • Scripture: John 14:15–17
  • Song Suggestions:

          “Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God” Getty and Townend, LUYH 746
          “Sweet, Sweet Spirit​” Akers, GtG 408, SSS 410
          “The Fruit of the Spirit​” Uncle Charlie

Reading from a Children’s Bible: The Pentecost Story

Putting Our Hands to Work: Cleaning Up

Involve everyone in cleaning up the meal together. As your hands work, use them as a tangible reminder of the work to be done in the world, and pray for it. This does not have to be a formal prayer, but can simply be an intentional naming aloud of the needs you see in the world.

As you work, talk and pray together about:

  • How the intentional work of your hands connects with the idea that your hands are equipped to work in the world.
  • The needs you see in your community around you.
  • The needs of the vulnerable (for example, elderly folks in communal care facilities, or refugee camps where disinfectant products are scarce and social distancing is not an option).
  • The ways you can help and support one another at home.
  • The way we’ve noticed needs in the world and where we feel called to meet those needs.

Extension project:
If you don’t have space for everyone to clean up at the same time, or if there are children who are too young, create intentional blessings to send out.

  • Have kids create pictures, cards, or letters to share with those who aren’t present: extended family, school friends, or others.
  • As adults, join these activities or make some phone calls, send texts or letters to others. Send words of encouragement as best reflects your gifts.

Other optional activity:

  • Play music that comes from a place you’re unfamiliar with. Remember your connection with believers from this different context and pray for them.

Blessing One Another: Gathering Together Intentionally to Finish the Meal

When the meal is done and all has been cleaned up, come back together and spend some time blessing one another with encouraging words.

  • How has this meal been a blessing in our lives?
  • How has God blessed us through one another?
  • How do we feel charged to bless others?

Songs
Options

“Great Is the Lord Our God” Psalter, LUYH 249, PfAS 48A, PsH 48
“Build Your Kingdom Here​” Rend Collective
“Every Move I Make​” Dance-along by CJ and Friends
“This Little Light of Mine” Spiritual, LUYH 930, SSS 257
“To God Be the Glory” Crouch, LUYH 956, CH 54

Katrina Olson is currently a PhD candidate in homiletics and liturgics at Vanderbilt University and serves as a worship coach for the Christian Reformed Church. She holds an MDiv and a ThM in worship, both degrees from Calvin Theological Seminary, as well as a BMusic from the University of Western Ontario.

Adam Perez is finishing his doctorate at Duke University Divinity School and serves as a worship coach for the Christian Reformed Church. Find him on Twitter @adam_a_perez.