COMMEMORATING THE LORD’S SUPPER

The Watford Congregation each year has a special service to commemorate the Lord’s Supper. Whether you prefer to do this on the annual date (Tuesday 7 April) or on Maundy Thursday (Thursday 9 April), GCI in the UK has made available instructions for doing this in your own home during this lockdown due to coronavirus when we are unable to meet together. These instructions are found in a magazine called ‘Belong‘ and can be read or downloaded or printed from www.gracecom.church home page. Just click on the picture of the magazine and click again on the picture of the magazine on the page that comes up. There is also a video that will give you a virtual service which can be watched or downloaded where you can participate as James Henderson goes through the service.

For your convenience, you will find below the two relevant articles on Footwashing and Taking the Bread and Wine at Home. I hope that this will be a blessing to you as we patiently wait for the time we can meet again:

FOOT WASHING SERVICE
Serving others with love and humility.

BY GAVIN HENDERSON
gavin.henderson@gracecom.church

On the eve of his crucifixion, Jesus had a final meal with his disciples. But before the meal began, Jesus did something unusual, something that broke with tradition. He took off his outer garments, and fastened a towel around his waist and began to wash his disciples’ feet. Even though he knew his death was almost upon him, Jesus made time to show this act of service to the ones he loved. He even washed the feet of Judas Iscariot who Jesus knew had betrayed him.

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A foot washing ceremony is often a part of worship services at this time of year. It is an intimate and humble act to both wash someone’s feet and let someone wash your feet. Due to social distancing measures brought in by the government in response to the the coronavirus pandemic, our congregations in the UK and Ireland will not be able to participate as we usually do in this symbolic act of washing each other’s feet. Because of current guidance we do not even recommend you do this at home. But the account of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in John 13:1-17, is not just describing a practice or ritual we can follow, rather Jesus is asking his disciples to show the same love and humilty to others that he had shown to them by choosing to wash their feet even though he was their teacher and the one they declared Messiah – God’s anointed one.

Living in the light of the resurrection we are blessed with a greater understanding of the fullness of what Jesus has done for us than his disciples had at the time. We are called, not just to wash each other’s feet, but to give our whole lives in service to others – just as Jesus gave his whole life for us.

While it may not be possible to wash one another’s feet at the moment, there are still plenty of ways that we can show Christ’s love for those in our lives. We can still choose to treat others as we would like to be treated. This might be by giving someone we haven’t contacted in a while a phonecall, or perhaps it is doing some shopping for someone you know, who is having to self-isolate. Or it might be sending a note to encourage someone, or tell them what they mean to you. You may have other ideas that are more appropriate to your situation.

Let us choose to follow Jesus’s command by serving and loving others as Jesus has served and loved us.



TAKING THE BREAD & WINE AT HOME

By James Henderson
James.henderson@gracecom.church

At the time of writing it’s looking increasingly unlikely that we will able to meet together to take the Bread and Wine, and some of us may wish to take the elements at home by ourselves or with others living in the same house. How should we approach this?

If you have access to the internet, it’s possible to download a participative video called “Sharing the Bread and Wine at home” from our www.gracecom.church website. This download could be used at any time. Whether you plan to use the video or not, prepare the elements in advance. Use a small amount of bread product of your choice. Whatever you choose, be sensitive to any preferences, allergies or concerns you (or others sharing it with you) may have. Have red fruit juice (e.g. red grape juice, or if you are allergic to grapes, whatever works for you) or a small glass (or glasses if others sharing) of good red wine of your choice. Find a quiet area away from distractions. Lay out the elements near you on a small table, maybe covered with a small clean tablecloth. Some may like to light a candle or have an arrangement of garden flowers.

If you are able to play some reflective music before you begin, do so. Maybe a song like “There is a Redeemer” or “Amazing Grace” or similar. If not, don’t worry about it.

Read some relevant scriptures, aloud if you can. One passage could be Luke 22:14-23, followed by 1 Corinthians 11:17-26.

Now say a prayer, in which we thank God for Jesus and for his sacrifice for us and ask the Father to guide us as we participate in what Jesus himself instituted.

Now read Matthew 26:26-28, followed by 1 Corinthians 10:15-17, noting that what we do is a participation in the blood and body of Christ.

Now, following Jesus’ example, take the bread and bless it by giving thanks and breaking it. Take it or share the bread, whatever your situation is. Remember and perhaps read aloud what Jesus said in John 6: 35, 53-56 “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall not thirst…Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.  For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

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Now, again following Jesus’ example, take the wine and give thanks. Let’s remember “Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:5-7).

End with a prayer or a favourite reading if you wish. A possible idea is a combined reading taken from Hebrews 9:14; 13:20-21, which we could personalise and paraphrase as shown below:

Wonderful Father, Great God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus,  the great shepherd of the sheep, who, by the blood of the eternal covenant, and through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without blemish to you, purify our conscience that we may serve you, the Living God,  and equip us please with everything good that we may do your will, working in us that which is pleasing in your sight, through Jesus Christ,  to whom be glory for ever and ever.
Amen.

Play some reflective music if you can. “Crown him with many Crowns” is an idea. Or, “When I survey the wondrous cross”.

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