Agape Meal Worship
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Agape Meal Worship
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Love Feast

Fish SymbolAn "Agape Meal Worship" otherwise called a "Love Feast" was described as a religious meal originally held by early Christians which eventually was to become the service of Holy Communion. In the early development of the church, Saint Paul hinted at a meal before the Communion in 1 Corinthians 11.20-22. "When you meet together, you are not interested in the Lord's Supper. For some of you hurry to eat your own meal without sharing with others. As a result, some go hungry while others get drunk. What? Don't you have your own homes for eating and drinking?" It is obvious from this letter that there were abuses present when some ate heartily and others went hungry. The Early Church's answer to this problem seemed to have been to separate off the Agape meal worship from the sacramental part of the worship time. A modern version of the Agape which may be used at a conference or in the church hall may look like this. The room should be comfortable and may be lit with candles for ambiance. The table and chairs are set out in a "U" or "horseshoe" shape, for dinner, so that all are facing each other.

Worship Call

Bible Radiating LightThe leader should distribute the Gospel and Epistle readings in written form for everybody in advance. The service begins with a call to worship such as "The Lord be with you" (assuming people have arrived and are engaged in casual conversation.)

Hand Washing

Hand WashingOne person with a jug of warm water and bowl, another with a towel pass around the group and pour water over each person's hands saying, "This is a reminder of Jesus' love and servanthood" and then to each person says, "In Jesus' name, we welcome you to this Agape Meal." The persons with the jug and the towel have their hands washed last of all.

Agape Love

For details of some possible prayers over the wine, the bread and the other food, see Worship Meal of Trinity Episcopal Church in Cranford, New Jersey.

Wine Bread Water

Soup and SaladThe wine and bread are shared by the House of Faith group with a Gospel reading and general prayers as part of an Agape Meal Worship. During the general conversation and before the sharing of the wine with bread at the Agape Love Meal ask for a volunteer to say or share a poem or a testimony later in the dinner. When the first course is finished, stand for the Gospel. A 3-5 minute time may be designated as interactive time (what did you think of this or that?) When the general conversation is almost done, the main course begins with testimonies or poems.

Separate Little Cups

Read from the scripture as opposed to the formal Prayer of Consecration used by many churches. Two people then give out the bread with wine with the words "the body of Christ" and "the blood of Christ" The wine should be in separate little cups rather than a communal cup or chalice - this is an important detail insisted on by Archbishop Finlay when he approved this format. The bread with wine can be consumed at once or formally at the same time together. Open prayer and the laying on of hands or anointing with oil may be used when appropriate at this point. Someone should be prepared to pray for the church, the world and other needs like the sick, the dying, the church, civic leaders, the Queen as appropriate and general personal prayers then follows. All say together at the end, "Glory to God from generation to generation..." Blow out the candles to signal the end of the sharing of the Agape Love Meal.

Follow Teaching Lord

ScriptureFollow the teaching of the Lord for whoever believes will have eternal life and maintain and strengthen their Christian life. A Collect for the Day may be said then a passage of scripture appropriate to the occasion, or one of the following passages is read. "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish, but have eternal life." John 3.16 Jesus said, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." John 6.35 The teaching should be based on the Gospel, Epistle or other set Bible passages. See the Worship Alternatives One and Two for ideas. A confession of sin may follow. The following or some other form may be used.
Leader "Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ, have mercy on us and forgive us, that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways, to the glory of your name. Amen"

Communion Service

Bread and WineAccording to Jesus teaching the Communion service, the Mass or The Lord's Supper depending upon your denominational name was instituted in the Upper Room. When a clergy person or the Bishop is available, a home may hold a Eucharist or Holy Communion service but not more than one week in four. The Communion service may be alternately called the Lord's Supper (in many Protestant Churches), the Mass (in the Roman Catholic Church) or the Eucharist (in many Anglican Churches) can be celebrated from an approved service like that of the Anglican B.A.S. or other denominationally approved texts for worship services or commonly used format as in the Baptist Church. These are other names used to describe the communion service in denominations like the Eastern Orthodox Church.

Lord's Supper

Jesus teachingThe Teaching during the service and this is an important and historical item may be based upon the Gospel or Epistle set readings for the day from the Lectionary. Sometimes an Old Testament reading may be used also. A sharing time when individuals can share their own views and questions can take place after the teaching to discuss any questions arising from the reading and its relevance to us today. The following is a short form of service suitable for a House Faith home communion service.

House Faith

Praying HandsLeader. "Let us pray"
"Brothers and sisters in Christ, God calls us to faithful service by the proclamation of the word and sustains us with the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ. Hear now God's word, and receive this holy food from the Lord's table."

Jesus Christ Deliver

Cragy stone wallsWe pray that the Lord Jesus Christ deliver us from all temptation and evil and give us life through Jesus. The Bishop or in the Bishop's absence a Priest prays, "Almighty God have mercy upon you, pardon and deliver you from all your sins, confirm and strengthen you in all goodness, and keep you in eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

Or a Lay Leader may be allowed to say, "Almighty God have mercy upon us, Pardon and deliver us from all our sins, Confirm and strengthen us in all goodness, And keep us in eternal life, Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen"

Our Father

Father hugs his sonThe Minister introduces the Lord's Prayer, "And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,"

The People say together, "Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen"

Evening Worship Prayer

Evening worship prayer to the ever-living Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit can be used by the House of Faith group to deepen faith. Leader: "O Lord, I call to you; come to me quickly, Hear my voice when I cry to you. Let my prayer be set forth in your sight as incense, the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice. Glory to the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen."

Holy Spirit

Evening Light"O gracious Light, pure brightness of the ever-living Father in heaven, O Jesus Christ, holy and blessed.
Now as we come to the setting of the sun, and our eyes behold the vesper light, we sing your praises,
O God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. You are worthy at all times to be praised by happy voices,
O Son of God, O giver of life, and to be glorified throughout all the worlds."

The Readings

One or more scripture readings for evening worship prayer, followed by silence. These could be a Psalm to begin, an Old Testament portion from the Law or the Prophets, a passage from the Epistles and most importantly the Gospel Reading for which all should stand out of respect.

Study Time. Sharing Time. Intercessions and Thanksgivings. The Lord's Prayer and Dismissal.

Leader: "Let us bless the Lord."
People: "Thanks be to God."

Consecrating Bread Wine

Bread and WineConsecrating bread and wine at the communion involves different beliefs by denominations as to what happens. The words of consecration used by the Priest may be understood in different ways by various denominations. At the time of the Reformation, this was a contentious issue and the cause of much debate even violence. Consecration is the solemn dedication to a special purpose or service. The word "consecration" from the Latin word "consecrat" may be defined as the "association with the sacred" or something or someone "dedicated, devoted and sacred." Thus a new bishop may be consecrated. A very special act of consecration is that of the bread and wine used in Holy Communion. Protestant belief is that these elements are reminders of Jesus' life and death on the Cross whereas the Catholic belief is that of "transubstantiation" or the miraculous changing of the bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Pre-consecrated bread and wine (or non-alcoholic equivalent) may be used at the Communion service by the Lay Leader if permitted by the particular denomination.

Administration

Minister "The gifts of God for the People of God."

People "Thanks be to God." The sacrament is given with the following words.

"The body of Christ (given for you)."

"The blood of Christ (given for you)."

The communicant responds each time. "Amen."

Doxology

The following doxology may be said by the People, "Glory to God, whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, forever and ever. Amen"

Blessing

The Bishop or in the Bishop's absence a Priest says a Blessing.

Alternatively, a Grace may be said together (See Resources Step Five.)

"Agape Meal Worship"
by Ron Meacock © 2019

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