Friday, November 12, 2010

creationary: communion as call and response

I am placing on the blog two communion prayers. Both are based on a call and response, where the essential telling of the story is done by the congregation, not by the presider/leader.

I have found this pattern of enormous help in recent times. It is an echo of the Hebrew Passover pattern, in which the child asks questions and the answers tell the story. It is an echo of Baptist communion theology in which the gathered community are the site for naming sacramentality (for where two or three are gathered, there is Christ). It is a way of inviting the community to do liturgy – the work of the people. It is a chance to deepen understanding, for as people say words, they are more likely to be engaged and thoughtful in and around those words.

One of these “call and response” prayers comes from the church in Kenya. The other comes from colleague Craig Mitchell

Leader: Is God our Maker here?
All: God is here.
Leader: Is Christ among us?
All: He is.
Leader: Is the Spirit here?
All: The living Spirit is in our midst.
Leader: And who are we?
All: We are God’s people redeemed by grace.

Leader: Why have we gathered here?
All: We come because we have been called
to live out a story

Leader: What story shall we live?
All: The story of saving love
Leader: Where did this story begin?
All: It was whispered before time began,
it was sung in the melody of Creation.
Leader: Whose story is this?
All: This story is God’s alone to tell
It hums in the rivers and the trees
It whispers in the skies and the seas
It calls to the people of all places
It speaks in our hearts, in our lives

Leader: Why then should we speak of this story?
All: This story calls our name in Creation
This story claims our lives through the Cross
This story shapes our future through the Spirit
We are its telling in this time and this place

Leader: So tell me the story of this night, of this table
All: The Lord Jesus, on the night when he was betrayed
took bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it
Leader: Tell me what he said and did
All: This is my body which is broken for you
Do this and remember me
Leader: Tell me what he said and did
All: In the same way, he took the cup and said
This is a new covenant in my blood
Drink it and remember me

Leader: This is our common story
our deep memory, our true destiny
So let it also be our story-telling, our testimony
Let’s celebrate the way that grace has shaped our lives
I invite you to say aloud a prayer of thanks

(space for prayers)

Leader: Hear the storytellers of all ages whisper with us
All: Holy. holy, holy Lord
God of power and might
heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest
Blessed in the one who comes in the name of the Lord
Hosanna in the highest

Leader: What is our prayer on this day?
All: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us
So this everyday meal becomes an eternal feast
So that our eating and drinking today
unites us with Christ,
whose body and blood are given for us.
So we know that you live in us
and that we live in you
So that we live in your world
knowing it is indeed yours.

Leader: Living God, this is our prayer, Amen.

Other posts I’ve written on Baptist, communion and theology include:
an overview here;
Anabaptist creationary here;
communion, kids and change here

Posted by steve at 08:39 AM


  1. Both are beautiful liturgies, thanks!

    How well-formed does a community need to be to participate in this with authenticity? Would new-comers feel they are reading it by rote? How does a community build a sense of identity sufficient to do this?

    Comment by Paul Minty — November 16, 2010 @ 2:12 pm

  2. Wouldn’t it be great though, if we created liturgy that actually was part of communities moving toward authentic participation and identity. Treasure the questions cf a person up the front going blah, blah, blah.

    Once folk got familiar with the rythym of this, then I’d be opening it up for free wheel call and response ie leader simply asking the questions – why have we gathered? what is our story? how does our story sustain us? what does the Christ mean for our story? …


    Comment by steve — November 17, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  3. Hey Steve I like these prayers. I’ve been asked to organise communion at Opawa Baptist this week. With Advent here it’ll involve groups sharing within a He has (as Mary prayed) and He will (as Elisabeth prayed)framework. Made a prayer around the start of Mary’s song “Our Souls glorify the Lord…) There’s room for spontaneous response For he has… and He will…I’m a bit nervous, so the call response frameworks you’ve offered give me encouragement. Prayers welcomed for this risk and Spirit to lead. Cheers – Adrian

    Comment by Adrian — December 3, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

  4. thanks adrian. hope communion goes well for you. certainly sounds rich. and risk is always good,


    Comment by steve — December 3, 2010 @ 9:43 pm

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