Click here to
A Service of Communion
The following Service of Communion is centered around
readings from Scripture. The theme of remembering is taken from the
paired "salvation history" Psalms 105-106, which contrast the faithfulness
of God with the forgetfulness of His people.
Yet, the Psalms lead into a renewed hope and prayer that God will again
Remember, and call His people to remember God's remembering! The first
part of the Service, climaxing with the Litany of Penitence (and the placing
of Ashes if this is used), takes on a somber mood that is appropriate for
Lent. However, that mood should not be carried through to the
Communion, since the taking of Eucharist ("thanksgiving") is always a
celebration of grace and hope!
This service is presented as an
Ash Wednesday service, made more
effective by the use of ashes placed on the forehead of worshippers as a
symbol of unworthiness and repentance. The celebration of
Eucharist in this context not only serves to underscore the terrible
consequences of sin looming ahead at Good Friday, it also points to the
hope that we have in God's grace and the possibility of a new future
that lies ahead on Easter Morning! However, the service is easily
adapted to a Maundy Thursday
service where the theme of remembering usually plays a central role.
The Scriptures should be read slowly to allow worshippers to
reflect on the story as it unfolds. If there are proficient readers,
the verses may be read antiphonally.
Service of Communion for the Beginning of Lent
As often as you eat this bread
and drink this cup. . .
Order of Service
Call to Worship (Psalm 105:1-5, 8)
Leader: O give thanks to the Lord, call on his
name, proclaim his deeds among the peoples!
People: Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell
of all his wonderful works!
Leader: Glory in his holy name; let the hearts
of those who seek the LORD rejoice!
People: Seek the LORD and his strength, seek his
Leader: Remember the wonderful works that he has
done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered.
People: He is mindful of his covenant for ever,
of the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations.
God Remembered Noah (Genesis 7:15-19,
21, 23, 8:1-3, 9:12-15)
Reader 1: (7:15) They went into the ark with Noah, two and
two of all flesh in which there was the breath of life. (16) And
those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had
commanded him; and the LORD shut him in. (17) The
flood continued forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and
bore up the ark, and it rose high above the earth. (18) The
waters swelled and increased greatly upon the earth; and the ark floated
on the surface of the waters. (19) And the waters prevailed
so mightily upon the earth that all the high mountains under the whole
heaven were covered . . . (21) And all flesh died that moved
upon the earth, birds, cattle, wild animals, all swarming creatures that
swarm upon the earth, and every human being . . . (23) Only
Noah was left, and those that were with him in the ark .
Reader 2: (8:1) But God
remembered Noah and all the beasts and all
the cattle that were with him in the ark. And God made a wind blow over
the earth, and the waters subsided; (2) the fountains of the deep and
the windows of the heavens were closed, the rain from the heavens was
restrained, (3) and the waters receded from the earth continually . . .
Reader 1: (9:12) And God said, "This is the sign of
the covenant which I make between you and every living creature that is
with you, for all future generations: (13) I set my bow in
the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the
earth. (14) When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen
in the clouds, (15) I will remember my covenant which is between me and
you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never
again become a flood to destroy all flesh."
God Remembered Abraham (Genesis
Reader 1: (24) Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah
sulfur and fire from the LORD out of heaven; (25) and he overthrew
those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities,
and what grew on the ground . . . (27) And Abraham went early in the
morning . . . (28) and he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah
and toward all the land of the valley, and saw the smoke of the land
going up like the smoke of a furnace.
Reader 2: (29) But God had remembered Abraham, when He destroyed
the cities of the Plain, and sent Lot out of the midst of the
destruction . . . .
God Remembered Rachel (Genesis 30:1-2,
Reader 1: (1) When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no
children, she envied her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me
children, or I shall die!" (2) Jacob’s anger was kindled against
Rachel, and he said, "Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from
you the fruit of the womb?". . .
Reader 2: (22) Then God
remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her
and opened womb. (23) She conceived and bore a son, and said, "God
has taken away my reproach"; (24) and she called his name Joseph,
saying, "May the LORD add to me another son!"
God Remembered Israel (Exodus 1:8-11,
13-14, 2:23-25, 3:7-8)
Reader 1: (1:8) Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who
did not know Joseph. (9) And he said to his people, "Behold, the people
of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. (10) Come, let
us deal shrewdly with them, lest they . . . join our enemies and fight
against . . . ." (11) Therefore they set taskmasters over them to
afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh
store-cities, Pithom and Ra-amses . . . . (13) So they became ruthless
in imposing task on the Israelites, (14) and made their lives
bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work
in the field . . . .
Reader 2: (2:23) And the people of Israel groaned
under their bondage, and cried out for help, and their cry under bondage
came up to God. (24) When God heard their groaning, He remembered his covenant with Abraham,
with Isaac, and with Jacob. (25) And God saw the people of Israel,
and God knew their condition . . . .
Reader 1: (3:7) Then the LORD said, "I have seen the
affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry
because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, (8) and I have
come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring
them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with
milk and honey . . . .
God’s People Called to Remember (Exodus
12:51, 13:3-5, 8; Deut 15:15)
Reader 1: (12:51) And on that very day the LORD brought the
people of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
Reader 2: (13:3) And Moses said to the people, "Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage,
for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place; no
leavened bread shall be eaten. (4) This day you are to go forth,
in the month of Abib. (5) And when the LORD brings you into the
land . . . which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing
with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month.
(8) And you shall tell your son on that day, 'It is because of what the
Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.'
Reader 1: (Deut 15:15) You shall remember that you were slaves in
the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you . . .
God’s People Forget (Jeremiah 3:19,
Reader 1: ( 3:19) I thought how I would set you among my
sons, and give you a pleasant land, a heritage most beautiful of all
nations. And I thought you would call me, My Father, and would not
turn from following me.
Reader 2: (2:31) And you, O generation, heed the word
of the Lord. Have I been a wilderness to Israel, or a land
of thick darkness? Why then do my people say, `We are free, we
will come to you no more'? (32) Can a maiden forget her
ornaments, or a bride her attire? Yet my people have forgotten me days without
Reader 1: (3:21) A voice on the bare heights is heard, the
weeping and pleading of Israel's sons, because they have perverted their
way, they have forgotten the Lord their God.
(22) "Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness."
Yet God Remembers, and Forgets!
Reader 1: (8:8) The days will come, says the Lord,
when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with
the house of Judah; (9) not like the covenant that I made with
their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out
of the land of Egypt; for they did not continue in my covenant, and so I
paid no heed to them, says the Lord.
Reader 2: (10) This is the covenant that I will make with
the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my
laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be
their God, and they shall be my people. (11) And they
shall not teach every one his fellow or every one his brother, saying,
'Know the Lord,' for all shall know me, from the least of them to the
greatest. (12) For I will be merciful toward their
iniquities, and I will remember their sins
Litany of Confession (Psalm 106)
Reader 1: Remember
me, O LORD, when you show favor to your people; help me when you deliver
People: Both we and our fathers have
sinned; we have committed iniquity, we have done wickedly. Our fathers,
when they were in Egypt, did not consider your wonderful works; They did not remember the abundance of your steadfast love, but
rebelled against the Most High at the Red Sea.
Reader 1: Yet he saved them for his name's sake,
that he might make known his mighty power.
Reader 2: But they
soon forgot his works; they did not wait
for his counsel. They had a wanton craving in the wilderness, and put
God to the test in the desert. They
forgot God, their Savior, who had done
great things in Egypt. They murmured in their tents, and did not
obey the voice of the Lord. Thus they became unclean by their
acts, and played the harlot in their doings.
Reader 1: Many times he delivered them . . .
Reader 2: . . . but they were rebellious in
their purposes, and were brought low through their iniquity.
Leader: Nevertheless he regarded their distress,
when he heard their cry. He
remembered for their sake his covenant, and
relented according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
People: Deliver us, O LORD our God . . .
that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting!
[Ash Wednesday: Application of Ashes]
[If this is being observed as an Ash Wednesday
Service, the use of ashes at this point in the service is a powerful
biblical symbol of both repentance and grace. The placing of ashes
in the form of a cross on the forehead of each worshipper is a mark of
human mortality and failure. Yet it is also the mark of a
willingness to come in humility before God, to confess our failures, and
to ask for forgiveness and new strength. This act of contrition
also expresses faith in the grace of God who calls us to accountability
for our sins, yet who also extends grace in the willingness to "forget"
those sins for a new beginning. It is this dimension of movement
from the past to the future, the movement from failure to second
chances, the movement from the old to the new that marks the beginning
of the journey through Lent toward Easter.
The prayer offered here with the placement of
Ashes should be penitential, yet also call people to faith in the
renewal that comes by bowing before God with a penitent and seeking
heart. The prayer can lead into the celebration of Eucharist by
noting that we do not end in failure but in renewal. This helps
keep the spirit of Lent focused on repentance, but does not mire it in
negativity and a preoccupation with sin and failure. The
Celebration of Eucharist should not be mournful but joyful, a
celebration of God's grace. See A Service of
Worship for Ash Wednesday for a liturgy of the imposition of
Invitation to Eucharist (John)
Leader: We have confessed before God and
each other that we are a needy people. We have confessed that we have
failed, and forgotten God. And yet we have heard that God has remembered us!
Christ our Lord has invited to His table all who have confessed their sins,
and who desire to have Christ formed in them. Let us give thanks
together that God has remembered us, and yet has forgotten our sins!
Reader 2: Jesus said, "I am the living
bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live
forever. . .because my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink."
Hymn "Blest Feast of Love
Divine" (sung to "Blest Be the Tie")
Blest feast of love divine! ’Tis grace that makes
To feed upon this bread and wine, In mem’ry, Lord, of thee.
That blood which flowed for sin, In symbol here
And feel the bless-ed pledge within, That we are loved by thee.
Oh, if this glimpse of love, Be so divinely
What will it be, O lord above, They gladd’ning smile to meet?
Sacrament of Communion (1
Leader: On the night our Lord Jesus was betrayed, he took
bread, gave thanks, and broke it. Then he said, "This is my body that is
for you. Do this as a means of remembering me."
In the same manner also he took the cup, after
supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as
often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." For as often as you eat
this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he
Prayer of Response
ALL: O Lord, forgive our forgetting. Remember
us, O Lord, as we remember you. For as you remember, we have hope!
Scripture Readings are adapted from The New Revised Standard Version,
Copyright © 1991, Oxford University Press.
Color for Lent:
Purple or Red Violet
The Symbols of Lent, Year C
Resources for Worship
The Season of Lent
Good Figs and Good Friday
Testament Lectionary Reading for the Sixth Sunday of Epiphany is a good
source for a homily to accompany this service.
See also The Cross as
The Stations of the Cross for Protestant Worship