Ingredients for Ascension Sunday Communion

As I was trying to fall asleep last night and the baby growing inside of me was kicking my insides with every bit of strength she’s got, I realized that I had agreed to preside over communion on Sunday. I thought briefly of winging it, but then I thought better of it.

I love to play with words of liturgy. I love to craft these words that bring us together as a community to share in the wondrous work of God. My church tends to do lots of explanation on how to receive these gifts so I felt like I needed to include that, though it’s not my preference. Ours is also a congregation that includes both the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ. It is the tradition within the Disciples that a deacon or elder blesses the elements and so I haven’t included a prayer for such blessing.

We Give God Thanks & Praise

Our hands gesture toward the heavens above
whenever we might refer to God’s handiwork.
We refer to the Big Guy Upstairs
but Jesus asks us, as we come to this table again,
Why do you stand looking up toward heaven?
Jesus guides our hands away
from those upward movements.
He insists that our reach doesn’t need to be so lofty.
It is not our hands that must ascend,
but it is ours that must reach out to
touch and hold our sisters and brothers.
It is our hands that must heal and reach.
Taking into our hands ordinary lives
and ordinary objects like this bread and this cup
to find heaven poured out and broken
right before our very eyes. So come.
Come to this table to feast and drink
not because you have it all figured out,
but because you need to hold onto
a little bit of heaven right here and right now.
Come to this table because Jesus invites
you to use your own two hands to realize
that God is right here, right now.

For it was on that fate-filled night that
Jesus gathered his friends around a table
just like this one and encouraged each of them
to reach out and take a piece of bread.
It was on that night that Jesus invited
his followers to wrap their hands around
the cup of salvation because it was
something that they could take
and hold in their own two hands.
And so, we remember. We remember
how Jesus took the bread…

Words of Institution

Blessing the Elements of Bread and Cup

The deacon will now pray.

Communion Music

Sharing the Sacrament

Here at UCC Austin, we receive communion
with gluten-free bread and white grape juice
so that all can partake. You’ll find wine on the trays
that the deacons pass if that’s more your style.
As the trays come to you, please take a piece
of bread and cup of wine or juice.
You’re welcome to eat of the bread right away
but let’s hold onto the cup so that we might
partake this drop of heaven as one body.
These are the gifts of God for the people of God.
Come, as all things are now ready.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy One, let us remember all that
Jesus taught from the very beginning.
Let us go from this table to find
other tables where hearts are broken
and your love is needed. Let us remember
the tiny bit of heaven we have found here.
Make our hands ever ready to reach out
and hold onto your love
… let all God’s people say:
All: Thanks be to God! Amen.

If you use these prayers as one of your Ingredients for Worship, please give credit to Elsa Anders Cook. I would love to hear about any adaptations you make for your context and hear how it goes. I’d also love to hear how you handle the instruction part of the communion service.

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