Moments: Holy Communion Liturgy for Good Shepherd Sunday

24 April 2020

Moments: Holy Communion Liturgy for Good Shepherd Sunday

This is a service for those who want to share Communion in an online community during a time of quarantine // lockdown // sheltering place. It is a simple service which begins with an announcement on Sunday, April 26 (or during the week prior to May 3) and continues with words of liturgy, to which you can add language, music, gestures and practices. Please, please mess around with my liturgy — the work liturgy means “work of the people.” Shape this to be familiar to the congregation but not a replica of the in-person sacramental practice. Exact replication can make more tender the sense of loss of the gathered community in the beloved sanctuary. Make it a celebration of the possibility of online connection, not an apology for something that is not-as-good as in-person worship.

Announcement … “Save the Date” April 26 (or during the following week)

On Sunday, May 3, often designated Good Shepherd Sunday, we share together Holy Communion in our online Livestream/Zoom/other format worship.

Before the time of the service you will want to prepare a slice or a small loaf of any kind of bread to share and a cup or small cups of juice — perhaps grape or cranberry — or wine, with or without alcohol. Set these elements in the living room or kitchen where you experience worship electronically with our faith community. Perhaps you want to put them on a lovely cloth or fabric that reminds you of a special time or person. Perhaps light a candle or place a flower or the photograph of someone you wish to bring into the circle of faith beside the bread and the cup.

Thank you for your preparation.

Celebration of Holy Communion

(Pause to invite those who have not already prepared elements quickly to do so. Assure them that even an English muffin can become a sacrament, even a cup of water or tea a remembrance of God’s redeeming love. Communion does not need elements. They can “taste and see that God is good,” Psalm 34:8, even if they do not partake.)


For Holy Communion this morning,
we sanctify our time and many tables
for a sacrament never confined
to sanctuaries or precious surfaces —
carved with “Do this in Remembrance of Me,”
but always following
wherever one of God precious children,
like a sheep astray,
is lost or needs a guiding.

Christ is our shepherd.
In the loneliest lockdown,
we do not want for companionship.

In crowded families —
distance-learning and never catching breath,
we find an inner source of still waters.

In the soul-stretching days
of health care and emergency professionals,
decision-makers for others,
and essential workers with daily risk,
we meet a restorer of souls.

In the paths of tight-eousness —
assisted living, correctional facility, shelter,
immigration detention, nursing home,
housing for those who are simply poor —
we find a leader, a staff to lean on,
a rod that points a new way.

Christ leads us not around it,
but through the valley of the shadow —

and turns to us, as Jesus did when he came through
the walls of a locked room
in the afternoon of resurrection,
said, “Peace be with you,”
and then asked if they had anything
to give him to eat.

Give the gentle Shepherd who is the Risen Christ
your bread, your cup and your heart.

Prayer of Consecration
Leader: We have bread and cup and heart. Our church community is dispersed in distance but we are one in Christ. In your many kitchens, and living rooms, rest your hands lightly upon these elements which we set aside today to be a sacrament. Let us ask God’s blessing upon them and upon us and upon those who are in our prayers this morning.

Gentle Host, you prepare a table before us in the threatening presence of virus. You anoint our hearts, bless our bread and our cups overflow. Surely as we shelter in place we find both the goodness of community and mercy to those most vulnerable. Now and all the days of our lives we claim that this house — these many houses where we dwell and also our precious church building, are, indeed, the house of God.

Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon your children who are staying at home so that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love and this Cup poured out to give hope to all. Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you. Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you. Amen.

Words of Remembering
Leader: We remember the sharing of bread in many places — wilderness manna, tents and caves of shepherds, Abigail’s saddle bags, the lunch of a small boy, the fish of the disciples and the loaf of Emmaus. And we remember that Paul the apostle wrote letters to congregations throughout places we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia, and they were the first “remote” worship resources, including these Communion words sent to the church at Corinth:

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also, 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 comes.

Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace, rejoicing that, in the holy dispersion of virtual worship, we claim the risen Christ’s love is not limited by buildings made with human hands, nor contained in human ceremonies, and celebrating the God’s shepherding that carries us into the unknown, to listen and follow, to lead and be led, to feed and be fed.

Unison: (May be sung or spoken)

Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need your tender care.
In your pleasant pastures feed us for our use your folds prepare.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear your children when we pray.
Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus, hear your children when we pray.
Iesu no ke Kahuhipa, Kahuhipa maika`i e
Eia makou ka `ohana, Ke ho`olohe a hahai
E aloha, e aloha, Alaka`i a hanai mai
E aloha, e aloha, Alaka`i a hanai mai. Amen.

One possible translation of the Hawai’ian:

Jesus for the Shepherd, Good Shepherd,
Here we are, the family,
Listen and follow
O Love, lead your children to you.
O Love, feed your children.

(William Bradbury, Laiana translator Lorenzo Lyons)

©Maren Tirabassi