The Communion Meal

Sep 19

The communion meal is a service we have held at Holy Nativity for the last three years.  It is a communion service in reverse.  It is a place for all ages to gather together around God’s table, to share bread and wine together, to eat together, to explore the bible together and to pray together.  It is a place to participate in a family meal with the body of Christ.

The main thing to get right with the communion meal is the setting and the ambiance.  The table is set for dinner with a table cloth, placemats and cutlery.  We often have bible readings printed and put into plastic menu holders.  We begin with the Eucharistic prayer and pass the consecrated bread and wine around the table from one to another.  Then food is served.  We talk about our lives and our journeys as Christians.  A bible reading is shared.  There is no teaching as such, more a guided conversation where people explore the scriptures in relation to the modern world, their experiences and lives.

This is the most fascinating part.  Young children and pensioners and everyone in between discussing faith together.  Eight year old’s asking profound questions of adults and stretching them to think.  Adults learning from children and children learning from adults.  The dinner table puts everyone on an even footing.

Sometimes there are other activities to do during the meal.  Perhaps something that relates to the prayers.  Confession and prayer often come from the discussion.  Sometimes led by me, the priest.  Sometimes led by others around the table.  It is an environment that allows people to explore spirituality.

We’ve been holding monthly services like this for over three months.  Various people who come cook food.  We have had as many as forty (and the food stretched that far) but a core group of about 15.  The month that we had forty we had 15 asylum seekers come along unexpectedly.  The conversations across culture were fantastic as people learned from each other’s lives.  A medical doctor fleeing from Iran sharing with us how he couldn’t use his medical skills in the UK and was living on next to nothing.

For three years, I’ve had people ask for the resources we use.  I keep meaning to put them up here but run out of time.  There is a placemat which we have laminated.  It has all of the essential bits of the liturgy for people around the table.  I also have a word document of the key pieces of the liturgy for the priest.  I run it off a tablet but you could easily print it off.

A big thanks to Revd Jonnie Parkin who helped me think through some of the issues the Communion Meal raises.  I visited the Luminous Community in Lincoln where we both started holding services like this at the same time.  His wisdom enabled our community to develop a wonderful sense of community and I value his shared good practice.

PDF Placemats No Logo

Document Communion Meal Placemats Wording

Communion Meal Liturgy Priest

Sanctum 2017: Book Now

Jul 3

It’s that time of year again where we are preparing for Sanctum.  It is a great place to discuss alternative worship in a sacramental tradition.  There are some really great contributors this year and there are a few places left to book as well!  The programme includes a blessing of the waters down at the river, exposition, eucharist and Rock Mass Unplugged.

The monastery at Mirfield is an idyllic location for a few days of contemplation and quiet if you would like to engage with the worship whilst having space for private reflection.

Oh yeah.  There’s also gin tasting.

The Hinge

Jun 30

Just a quick thought about the shift in paradigm we are living through as we move from modernity to postmodernity. We are all using social media as a way of thinking our thoughts. It pops into your head and you tweet it. Then the discussion ensues. This is good and healthy. But as a public figure I often put the brakes on before I even tweet it. We live in a world of media storm. The Daily Mail, Express and The Sun are constantly looking for a headline. “Vicar says ‘bum’ shocker”. 

Are the trad media just perpetuating the ways of modernity and applying them to postmodern times?

[I may have been reading a lot of books about the transition between modernity and postmodernity. Sue me]

Abbey Royale Fontevraud

Jun 22

I went on a residential course a few weeks ago and one of my fellow inmates recommended Fontevraud as a place to visit. Once again the vicar is on holiday visiting ABC (another bloody church). Ruth likes to listen to the audio guide whilst I just take in the ambience. When you work in churches it can be a bit too much of a busman’s holiday to think about buttresses and gargoyles in your spare time.


I love how some ancient art incorporates the hierarchy of the institution into the scene.  That said, I hate it when the local landed gentry paid to have their face painted onto the infant Christ.  My favourite icon is in the Louvre as Christ puts his arm around St Menas.  I digress.


In the chapter room at the Abbey there are large pictures depicting aspects of the life of Christ. In many, a kneeling Benedictine Abbess is present looking on.  In the crucifixion scene, Christ is between two likely looking lads and everyone has a six pack.


Once again, Mother Superior watches on as Christ’s body is prepared for the tomb.
And when Jesus is betrayed with a kiss it isn’t much of a peck on the cheek.


Last but not least a picture of the ascension because feet disappearing into clouds never cease to amuse me.


Sorry about the dodgy exposure. Sun in the doorway.

My New Prayer Device 

Mar 30

How do you get naughty boys to pray?  I have a bracelet of knots around my left wrist that a turn around in my fingers. If I’m feeling extravagant I have this set of orthodox knots that keep my mind focussed enough to engage with the Divine. 

Meet my new prayer divice!  Fidget cube!  Given to me by a friend. Modern day naughty boy prayer time!  And it really works. And it fits in my pocket too!  

Let us pray….

Clicketty clicketty talky talky time!

Stars in the Sky

Mar 12

The lectionary text this morning was Genesis 12:1-4.  This is the passage where God makes a promise to Abram that he will have descendants as numerous as the stars.

So I took a trip to The Range. This is my regular Saturday afternoon haunt when prepping for Church on Sunday morning.  To make our starry sky, the background was made from A1 blue card, A1 black paper and pritt-stick.

During the opening songs, the youglings cut out equilateral triangles of yellow paper with 3″ sides. Then during the teaching, each member of the congregation folded them into stars.  We put our initials on them as an act of commitment as the people of God.  We then used sticky foam dots (the range is great) to add them to the sky.

A member of our community died this week.  One of the most poignant moments was when his widow and I put his initials onto a star and added it with the rest of us as the people of God.

You don’t get the text of my sermon to go with it as for all age worship I didn’t have a text – RE teacher skills.  You’ll have to write your own. Sorry.