Thanksgrieving Bread Communion

Set up for this ritual:

  • It's especially meaningful to have a congregant bake bread for communion. (If that’s not possible, store bought bread will do.)
  • Cut the bread into cubes and place in baskets lined with napkins. Have a basket of gluten-free crackers available as well.
  • To hold the juice, one congregation uses their historic communion silver. Others might use pottery chalices, or bowls. Have at least one vessel of juice for every 25 people in worship.
  • Space out the juice vessels on a long table decorated for the occasion at the front of the sanctuary—but be prepared for at least one of them to travel to those who wish to remain at their seats.

Leader one:
The ritual of breaking bread together is one that has been shared by the human family in various forms for millennia: giving thanks for the harvest, a prayer that the Earth will sustain life once again.

In the Christian tradition, the disciples broke bread together during a Passover meal, remembering an escape to freedom on the eve of a crucifixion—when yet another imperial ruling power was asserting its dominance through violence.

They broke bread together in the depth of their grief and fear, asserting that the forces of empire, violence, and evil would not extinguish the forces of life and love.

Many of our partner churches in Transylvania hold a communion of remembrance four times a year: Christmas, Easter, Pentecost, and Thanksgiving (celebrated as a religious holiday in September).

Our congregation practices a free and open communion; everyone here is invited to participate, without reservation.

Leader two:
And so it is that we come to gather around this table, our communion table.
This ritual connects us in ways that we can only begin to know, through time and space,
to our history; to all the people who have looked into each others’ eyes across this table through the years; to the earth and the cycle of life.

This morning we are going to do bread communion a little bit differently
because the times we are living in call for new ways to lean into the depths of ancient ritual.

Leader one:
In a moment, the ushers will pass baskets of bread among you.
The bread was made with care by (name of baker/s).
Take a piece of bread, but please don’t eat it immediately.
If you need a gluten-free rice cracker, please raise your hand and one will make its way to you.

Pass around bread/crackers.

Look around you, look across the room from you.

Let us know ourselves as one body.
A body broken in our humanness, complicit in and impacted by systems of oppression that were established long before any of us were born,
broken-hearted as our compassion leads us to feel our suffering and that of others.

In a moment the bell will sound, and I invite you to break your bread and with it allow your heart to break open.
Break the bread, but do not eat it.
Hold the broken bread and notice what wells up in your broken heart in this moment, in this week, in this month, in this year.

In our shared silence, allow a word or phrase to come to you that gives voice to some of the grief, fear, pain or suffering on your heart.

When the bell rings again you are invited to speak this word or phrase out into our shared sacred space, allowing words to tumble over words, trusting the whole that is larger than any one of us to hold it all.

Let us enter into a time of shared silence and the breaking of bread

Bell to break bread and hold silence

Bell to begin speaking (you might have a couple of parishioners prepared to speak their word or phrase, so that others feel comfortable doing so)

Bell to end speaking

Leader two:
In this space of our community gathered in a circle, having given voice to our grief and pain, let us notice the larger forces that hold us—
the earth, its large body which holds us, sustains us, and gives us life;
the floor, walls and roof of this building
(crafted with care from timber and stone from the if your building was made from special materials, you can name them here, with reverence);
the ultimate mystery, the source and sustenance of all creation that some call God;
the abiding force of love that holds us and will never let us go.

There is so much for us to be grateful for.
So much love and care, passion and dedication present right here in this circle.
Our life together as a community is a blessing,
and each of us is a tapestry woven of experiences and understandings for which we can be grateful.

In a moment the bell will sound again and you are invited into a time of meditation.
Hold your pieces of bread and look at them closely.
See the miracle of it; made from earth and water, warmed by fire.
As you notice the texture and smell of the bread, let into your awareness your own gratitude for all that gives you life and sustains you.

What do you have to be grateful for in this moment, in this week, in this month, in this year?
If you wish, allow a word or phrase to form that gives voice to your gratitude.
When the bell rings again you are invited to speak this word or phrase out into our shared sacred space, allowing words to tumble over words, trusting they will be held in the great web of all existence.

Let us enter into a time of shared silence and meditation.

Bell to begin mediation

Bell to begin speaking

Bell to end speaking

Leader one:
Having honored both our grief and our gratitude in this circle, we now serve one another;
to look into one another’s faces and see there the brokenness and the blessing, the reflection of our common humanity;
to eat of the fruit of the vine;
to be nourished;
to notice once again that the forces of life and love persist.

Leader two:
If you wish to remain in your seat and would like a cup of juice brought to you, please raise your hand and an usher will serve you at your seat.

If you wish to come forward to the communion table, you will meet someone across from you.
Take turns holding the cup of juice for one another to dip their bread or cracker in.
Take a moment to be present to the person across from you as you offer the cup of juice for them.
Once you’ve both eaten your bread, you can return to your seats.

Let us begin.

A metal basket, on a piece of cloth, holds a loaf of bread.

The Communion Book

By Carl Seaburg

From inSpirit: The UU Book and Gift Shop

Buy This Book