Mealtime Liturgy for Seedy Mobs


The Seeds Meal
Central to the emergence of the Seeds Covenant has been the spirituality of the table. It is the gathered meal that often unites our efforts in knowing the word, growing home and going to engage the problems of our world. Some queries from our covenant point to the table.

How regularly will we come together around a common meal?
Who will be invited and made to feel welcome at the meal?

How will our meal reflect the Eucharist as practiced through history?

How will our meal reflect peace, justice and joy by making reconciling connections with God, others and the earth?

What practical processes and symbolic rituals around production and consumption of our food will shape the spirit of the meal and build a sense of home? (Who’s cooking and who’s doing the dishes? How and why?)

The following is an attempt to make our spirituality of the table more explicit and to make some of the words and processes we have found helpful more accessible. To celebrate and share different food traditions that exist among our Seedy Mobs and to inspire new production and consumption.


Some of the values of these meals take their cues from the “Slow Food” Movement which arose in Italy as a response to the negative impact of multinational food companies and is spreading around the world – slowly!
Slow Food opposes the standardisation of taste, protects cultural identity tied to food and seeks to safeguard processing techniques inherited from tradition. It involves valuing time to prepare, eat and build community through food.
It is sometimes critiqued as being an elite pursuit, however Jesus himself would often seek out the best feed in town! Far from extravagant eating, Slow Food is about the celebration of the connections that food can make with sustainable production and local food traditions that are often lost in our economy.
Slow Food has helped reframe our understanding of what it means to be “church” because If we read the gospels without getting hungry we aren’t really paying attention. The how, what, where and with whom Jesus eats is a central point of gospel conflict and ”understanding about the loaves” (Mark 6:52) is presented as essential to understanding Jesus’ ministry of recon-ciliation.
This ministry is symbolised in the offer of wilderness bread and of his body and blood in the Eucharist. Our prayer is that like the followers at Emmaus, it would be in the offer of hospitality to strangers, and at the breaking of bread that our eyes will be opened and that Christ may be made known among us.

Possible Elements of a Seeds Menu
Welcome
Grace
Confession
Eucharist Prayers
Know the Word : Sharing Story
Concerns/Prayers for Others
Benediction
BELLS Menu
(via Mike Frost / Small Boat Big Sea)
Blessing
Eat
Listen to each other
Listen to the gospel
Sending Out

The Welcome

1. A Listening Welcome
Hear the cry and promise of Jesus who said ;
“Listen, I stand at the door and knock: if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and eat with you and you with me.”
In the gift of Jesus and through the presence of his Spirit, we have tasted God’s gracious hospitality to us. And so we extend this grace to each other…
(Each person names the person seated beside them saying….
Welcome to this table in the name of Christ.
Reply: Amen. (expressions of personal feelings or acknowledgement of what people bring to the table may also be offered.)
(adapted from Tablelife, Oxford)

2. Setting Place for the Unseen Christ.
This may involve a simple setting of an empty place at the table. It may involve the lighting the Christ Candle (see below) or Prayer for Placing the Seeds Covenant Symbols which includes a bowl.

3. Lighting of the Christ Candle
We acknowledge that we gather on the land of which the (insert) people have been custodians from time immemorial. We honour this history and commit ourselves to care for the land with them. May our worship and our service be work for reconciliation with people and with our God.
(We say together…)
Jesus light of the world we confess that you are here. Shine your light in to the hidden places of our lives and bring warmth to the dark places of our hearts. Amen.
A time of silence is held during and/or after the candle has been lit.

Grace

Neil’s Grace
(a long term volunteer at Urban Seed’s Credo Café and example of gentle humility and service.)
Heavenly Father we thank you for……………..
May we always be grateful for your provision and may we always be mindful of the needs of others. Amen

Marcus’s Grace
(used at Credo Café 2004)
Take a moment to become aware of your body and your senses.
The smell of the food prepared for you, your salivating mouth, your growling stomach. Become aware of your hunger.
The hunger we bring to this table is not for bread alone but for a sharing with others and our Creator.
No matter who we are at this table, no matter our difference, we are united by our hunger.
We give thanks for our bodies, this bread and that some of what we long for will soon be satisfied.
We remember those whose hunger will not be satisfied this day.
May this food give us the energy we need to work for a world without hunger.
Amen

Eucharist Prayers.

1. Explanation of Water.
At our Seeds Gatherings we use water as our Eucharist cup because of its inclusivity. Water is common and essential to all and does not divide those of us who struggle with alcohol or with watered down grape juice.
As communion serves to remind us of Jesus, using water serves also as a reminder that our city was established here because it was a place for good water.
It reminds us that indigenous peoples often showed settlers how to find the water we needed to survive and that these sources were sometimes poisoned in response.
Bread and water.remind us of the rations of those who are imprisioned and in detention.
It reminds us of the climate change, drought and the constant reality of a culture for whom water is scarce.
It reminds us of Jesus words that he was “Living Water” who would forever quench our thirst.
“To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the river of life.”

2. Prayer for Water.
Eternal God,
We thank you for the gift of water, Essential for life; cause of death; and metaphor for both.
A symbol of your Spirit’s transformative activity within our lives and creation.
Raging water which Jesus our Saviour crossed and subdued,
Still waters to which you guide us.
In the beginning you brooded over the waters
Bringing order from chaos and birth to creation.
The waters of the great flood brought a judgement of evil
and floated an ark of hope and salvation.
Through their baptism in the Red Sea,
you led your people to freedom and drowned the powers that enslaved us.
Water flowed from the rock of Moses,
Sustaining us in the desert.
You directed us through the River Jordan
Guiding us to abundance in a Promised Land.
Within that same river, Jesus was baptised by John and anointed by the Spirit.
With the water of our own baptism we remember our participation in your story
Water and blood flowed from the side of your wounded body at your death
Your sacrifice for our sin and a broken creation
As we share this meal may we continue be born anew of water and the Spirit,
Raise us to new life in Christ, and strengthen us to serve you in the world, until that day when you make all things new.
Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(Adapted from Uniting in Worship baptism liturgy for Communion at Seeds Gatherings, Melbourne, 2005)

3. Tablelife Eucharist (Tablelife, Oxford)
Bread and wine are placed on the table
While they were at the table Jesus took a loaf of bread and after giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying “Take; this is my body”. Then he took a cup of wine, and gave it to them. “This is my blood – which is poured out for many.”
Thank you God that ordinary things can become special when placed in your hands. Thank you that that which is broken may be made whole, and that which is given is not wasted.
In the silence we think about things in ourselves and in the world that we would like to change
Bread is passed around
Be grateful when you touch bread
Let it not lie uncared for, unwanted.
There is so much beauty in bread;
Beauty of sun and soil, beauty of patient toil.
Winds and rain have caressed it.
Christ often blessed it.
Be grateful when you touch bread
We eat bread together
Wine is poured
Be loving when you drink wine-
Let its colour, life and joy be appreciated.
There is so much beauty in this wine
Beauty of self-giving, beauty of forgiving
Winds and rain have caressed it.
Christ often blessed it.
Be loving when you drink wine.
We drink the wine and say together…
Thank you God, for love, for food, and for friends to share it with.

4. Freedom Bound: A Tale of Two Meals
(adapted from Ched Myers’ address at Greenbelt, 2005. Each person could read a sentence around the table.)

• As we eat this day we remember Passover and Eucharist.
• The foundational meals that gave birth to our people.
• Meals that commemorate the journey of faith. “Which make a way out of no way.”
• The Exodus march and the discipleship path.
• Last meals of memory for communities on the run, hunted by the powers of empire.
• Meals that acknowledge blood (of the Lamb), as the power of life over death.
• Meals for a people “Freedom bound.”
• Where the Exodus reminds us we are “Bound for Freedom”; Eucharist reminds us we are bound to the freedom struggle and its cost.
• That God’s freedom calls us to self- restraint, servanthood and justice for all.
• It reminds us that the “first supper” for a free people was wilderness manna where we are reminded our freedom is contingent upon gathering only enough and sharing the gifts of creation.
• Jesus re-enacted this story when, surrounded by hungry masses, he “took bread, blessed it, broke it and distributed it” among the people.
• Using the same ritual words at his Last Supper he made the feeding of the multitudes the bridge that connects these two meals.
• Standing ever between Exodus and Eucharist are poor folks hungering for bread and for the Bread of Life.
• And Jesus’ word to disciples remains: “You feed them!”
• The tale of these two meals is God’s extraordinary invitation to turn the world right side up, coming in the form of the most ordinary thing we do: sharing food together around a table.
• Let us not imagine these meals as a religious entitle-ment, or empty ritual, or for strictly private spirituality.
• Rather, when we take this Bread and lift this Cup, let us understand that we are part of a legacy that invites our embrace. For we, too, are part of the ongoing struggle to take back the Freedom story from empire-builders and profiteers, and to restore it among Kingdom-seekers and prophets.
• Upon these two memorial feasts, we can confidently stake our lives, our aspirations, our vocations.
• On a faithful practice of meal and memory we can rebuild a church that will truly be Freedom Bound, so that the history of liberation may also have a future.

Ched on Food Sovereignty and Eucharist

5.
During 2000 and at the height of the heroin crisis the Urban Seed residential community at Central House, Melbourne experienced great struggle hanging its own relationships together.
Peter Chapman of Common Life suggested we share communion as it had a unique power to unite beyond words. Communion was shared weekly where we served each other using the words.
The body of Christ broken for you and all creation. The blood of Christ shed for you and all creation.

A simple Taize style chant was also sung such as:

Jesus Christ, bread of life, those who trust is you will not hunger. Jesus Christ, Living Word, those who trust in you shall not thirst.
Eat this bread drink this cup, Come to me and never be hungry. Eat this bread, drink this cup, Come to me and you will have new life.
At night we hasten in darkenss to drink from the Living Water. Only our thirst drives us onwards. Only our thirst drives us on.

Confession
Jesus said “When you have supper, do not invite just your friends, or relatives, or those who are wealthy, but rather invite the poor and the marginalized.”
We confess to God the ways in which we have not been inclusive and welcoming in the past week.
For our blindness to the needs of others, and our preoccupation with our own agenda
Lord, have Mercy
For our failure to pay attention to the still small voice in our lives
Christ, have Mercy
For our life choices since our last meal which have not contributed to greater love and justice in the world.
Spirit, have Mercy.
Affirmation
The prophet Isaiah writes: On this mountain the Lord Almighty will prepare for all peoples a feast of rich food, a banquet of well-aged wines – the best of meats and the finest of wines. God will destroy on this mountain the shroud that is cast over all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; God will swallow up death forever. Then the Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces, and take away the disgrace of the people from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken. In that day they will say
This is our God; the one in whom we trusted, the one who saved us. This is the Lord for whom we waited, let us rejoice and be glad.
(Adapted from Tablelife, Oxford)

Know the Word

Sharing time
Each person shares with the group (one item at a time around the table.)
*Good things that have happened in the past week
*Challenges of the past week
*How they believe they have lived as a Christian disciple, according to their personal covenant with God.
(Used in meals by Central House ressies 2006 initiated by Ali Turnbull, obtained from Richard Arnold, Brunswick Uniting Church.)

Offering our past week to God in Confession
From the unsteady heights of our own importance, we sometimes look down on the frailty of others
O God, we offer you our pride; replace it with humility.
At other times we feel that we are nothing and that most other people are more successful and capable than we are.
O God, we offer you our feelings of inferiority; make us realistic and honest in our estimation of ourselves.
Sometimes what we profess sounds good but what we practice doesn’t match up. We are not always the people we make out to be.
O God, we offer you our hypocrisy; help us to be open and sincere.
There is much more that we could confess, both personally and publicly. It is not our acts of confession which maintain us as God’s people, but the mercy and grace of God on which we are entirely dependent.
O God, we offer ourselves to you. We give you only what we are. Whilst we are sorry for our failings, we are grateful for your abundant grace. Amen

The Assurance of forgiveness
The heart of God through Jesus Christ is moved in love. There is no end to the new life which God offers to us. We are forgiven and can live in freedom. Thanks be to God
(Used in meals by Central Houseressies 2006 initiated by Ali Turnbull, obtained from Richard Arnold, Brunswick Uniting Church.)

Benediction

we say to each other…
You are God’s servants, gifted with dreams and visions
Upon you rests the grace of God like flames of fire.
Love and serve the Lord in the strength of the Spirit.
May the deep peace of Christ be with you, the strong arms of God sustain you,
And the power of the Holy Spirit strengthen you in every way.
Amen.
Dianne Karray Tripp

Seeds Symbols Prayer
(This prayer takes some of the key aspects of the Seeds Covenant.)
Holding up the packet of Seeds
Holy community of gracious hospitality, in the midst of our homelessness you extend us an invitation to Grow Home.
We thankyou for your invitation to join the vocation of those who through the ages have vowed to grow new households of love.
Set us free to share our wealth and may the poor always be with us. May we live in fidelity with your wild creative power respecting the sacred connections between your Spirit our bodies and all creation. May we only be obedient power. Grace us with mutual submission. Give us courage to give of ourselves with the same passion with which you lived and died.
Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Holding up the Bible
May we Know the Word. Not ancient words on a page but the living Spirit of Christ among us. Guide us in our speech at this table, choosing our stories and storying our choices. May this table be rich in story give us strength to raise our voice and to discipline to listen for yours.
Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Holding up the Credo Cafe bowl
May we Eat Slow. Make us mindful of all that has been given and received in the process of production and consumption. ( At this point mention could be made about different elements of the meal and what is known of their process of production). May this meal reconcile us with God, creation and others. May our eyes be opened to your presence through the breaking of the bread and may our eating bear witness to the meal to come, to which all are invited and where there is enough for all.
Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Holding up the bottle of oil
May we leave this table energised to Go and Engage our world. To speak truth to the powers and to each other; to name and cast out that which is evil in our world and within; and in the midst of our brokenness may we know and share your healing power; your gracious hospitality to us.
Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Amen.

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One Reply to “Mealtime Liturgy for Seedy Mobs”

  1. I really like your grace. The way it touches our senses. I am always aware of my own yearning (hunger) to be with people and with God. I see it in others too. Hunger in our society is most often not for food but for the company of others and God. So many do not see their yearning for God but I see it. I spoke to a guy tonight who was hanging out in the laneway. He eventually asked me about Christianity. He said he used to have a faith but he lost it. I think maybe he was filling his hunger for God with a hit. I pray for him using the last lines of your grace “may we remember those whose hunger will not be satisfied today , may our food give us energy to work toward a world without hunger.” I pray that tonight maybe God planted another seed in him.

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