concise outline to convey our understanding of worship:
I have discussed “gathering” and “word” the last two months in this column, so this month’s topic is “meal”.
The choice of the word “meal” was quite deliberate. Wikipedia defines “meal” as “an eating occasion that takes place at a certain time and includes prepared food. The names used for specific meals in English vary, depending on the speaker's culture, the time of day, or the size of the meal. Meals occur primarily at homes, restaurants, and cafeterias, but may occur anywhere.” Meal is a happy word, a joyful word, associated with spending time with those we love and those we hope to love, with delightful conversation, moving silences and deepening relationships. If we want to get to know someone better, we do well to share a meal.
This section of our liturgy, which includes the offering and the prayers, sung and spoken that surround Jesus’ Words of Institution as well as the eating of a bit bread and drinking a sip of wine is the principal feast, the main “breaking of the bread” for followers of Jesus. Not coffee hour, as beloved as it is. Not the Harvest Dinner, as significant as it is. Not funeral luncheons, which bring comfort and companionship to those who mourn. Not even the meals we share to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and holidays. “Grant us a foretaste of the feast to come.” “Do this in Remembrance of me.” “This is my body, given for you.” “For the forgiveness of sin.” “With this bread and cup we proclaim the Lord’s resurrection until he comes.” It is the center. It is the whole. It is where God’s creation and our creation come together as we take in the Word made Flesh who dwelt among us. It is where we give ourselves to the one who gave us all that is and was and ever will be.
We gather around the altar to tell the story in the form of prayer. We hear the story and remember it is our story. The story of suffering. The story of deliverance. The story of redemption. The story of hope.
We gather in thanksgiving for all God has given us and all God has promised us—love, presence, mercy, sustenance, and strength, for today and for forever.
We touch. We kneel. We stand. Sometimes we hold hands. We offer our whole selves to our Creator in love and service.
The heading for the communion portion of the service is “The Great Thanksgiving”. In the Service of the Word, the section between Word and Sending is also called Thanksgiving. In the absence of the sacrament, we offer our time, talents and treasure, sing a song of praise, and pray to express our gratitude to God. When we receive the sacrament it is a two-way street, with God giving the divine self to us even as we give ourselves to God.
“Come let us eat for now the feast is spread. Come let us drink for now the wine is poured. Our Lord’s body let us take together.”
“Rise, then to spread abroad God’s mighty word.
"Jesus risen will bring in the kingdom.”
Rev. Melanie Martin-Dent
It is with great anticipation that we welcome Pastor Melanie to be our pastor here at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. Polson is such a great place to live, abounding in many of God’s most wonderful natural beauties. We look forward to hearing your ideas about ministry and outreach, and we hope to work together, with you, as a team as we go forward, united as one body of Christ. Blessings to you, and may GSLC be a “light shining upon a hill”!