Isn’t it interesting that she laid him in a manger—a feeding trough? Like he is food for God’s creatures.
And this manger—it’s located in Bethlehem, an old Hebrew name meaning “House of Bread.”
Baby Jesus—the one who will say “Take, eat; this is my body.”
The one who is known to us in the breaking of bread.
We began each week of Advent at Potluck Church by lighting the advent wreath candles and reading a litany, and we ended our worships with a benediction litany. These were the constants.
For the week of hope, we had a conversation about Matthew 24:36-44 and wrestled with what it means to be ready for Christ’s appearing.
The week of peace, we worshiped at a local coffee house and listened to our friend and artist Chris Schweizer share about his historical cartoon illustrations. He reminded us that a key to peace is learning about the other—seeing life from another’s perspective.
The third week we were invited to the home of one of the most joyful people we know, and we wrestled with the difference between joy and happiness. It truly was a joy just sitting at her family table for worship. And this week, the week of love, we returned to our regular gathering place to hear the Worship & Wonder telling of the advent stories using the Worship Woodworks figures and the book Young Children and Worship by Sonja M. Stewart and Jerome W. Berryman.
It was a wonderful, challenging journey. And now, Christmas is almost here. Time to celebrate the gift of all gifts.
We look around the table, and we see a glimpse of the image of God—the imago dei. We each carry marks of our creator. God created us and continues to recreate us all.
When we greet each other and enter into conversation with one another with the belief that we all carry God’s spirit—or, to say it another way, when the Jesus in me greets the Jesus in you—then, holy conversation takes place. Words are shared with love; disagreements are grounded in respect; and doubts are confessed in a space of trust.
If the Potluck table is just a stop on your journey, then we give thanks that we were a part of your travels at this moment. If you feel called to pilgrimage with us, we celebrate that fellow travelers are uniting in this with us for whatever time allows, however long God calls.
One way to prepare discussion starters for a Potluck worship conversation is to explore the weekly lectionary scriptures. The web is a treasure trove of great discussion questions, background information, and illustration resources for the weekly lectionary scriptures. Here are six that I find quite helpful:
1) The Text This Week (aka “Textweek”): A huge listing of resources indexed by the weekly lectionary readings, both to the specific scripture and to the date. www.textweek.com.
2) Faith Element: A subscription-based youth and adult Bible study curriculum using discussion, movies, music, art, prayer practices, current events, and even a companion podcast and a background video to encourage us to explore the texts. https://faithelement.net.
3) Faith Lens: A blog hosted by the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA), the author pairs current events and life-application questions with the week’s lectionary scriptures. http://blogs.elca.org/faithlens/
4) Mustard Seeds: This blog curates an interesting list of resources—from children’s books, graphics, music, film and more—that connect to the lectionary texts. http://seedstuff.blogspot.com
5) SAMUEL/Weekly Seeds: A free resource from the United Church of Christ that offers reflection questions, quotes, commentary, and a prayer on the lectionary texts. http://www.ucc.org/weekly_seeds
6) UMC Discipleship Ministries Leadership Resources: A team from the United Methodist Church curates a set of worship resources, from music and planning notes to preaching resources. These are geared toward a more traditional worship setting, but many are applicable to worship around the table. The calendar notes are quite helpful for planning special day or holiday observances. http://www.umcdiscipleship.org/leadership-resources/advent-and-christmas-leadership-resources/year-a
☐ grape juice
☐ a right-sized loaf of bread
☐ a Christ candle
☐ tablecloth or sheet
☐ table and chairs
☐ a welcome or “meets here” sign
☐ ice, water, and other drinks
☐ paten and chalice, or a plate and cup
☐ plates, cups, and utensils
☐ salt and pepper
☐ serving utensils
☐ hand sanitizer
☐ thought-provoking table décor or seasonal centerpiece
“Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door,
I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” (Rev. 3:20)
It’s a small gesture—setting an extra seat for Christ. Similar to the Jewish tradition of leaving an empty chair at the Passover Seder for Elijah, we leave one seat empty for Christ. The communion ware (the paten of bread and chalice of juice) are the seat’s table setting. Physically, the Christ chair reminds us that this meal is not like other meals. It seems to help set our intention and purpose—holding a symbolic place at the table that reminds us that Christ is with us in this very room.
written by Rachel
Set a table, invite Christ and others, leave an empty chair, serve up some powerful questions, and break bread.