Agape is the Koine Greek work for “self-giving love”. In early Christian tradition Agape is also the name for communal meals and times of togetherness and mutual sharing. Often, these “love feasts” were Eucharistic (that means they functioned as the Lord’s Supper). In that spirit, we celebrate the Agape every week, bringing together elements of a traditional Eucharist meal, prayer, confession, and praise. Anyone may lead. And all are welcome to eat at the table.
Here is an example of the liturgy for our agape meal on Sunday nights:
CALL TO THE FEAST
One: This is a table of welcome. All are free to come and eat.
As we gather at this table, we remember these words of our brother
Jesus: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger,
and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”
All: We come to this table hungry and thirsty. Satisfy us, O God.
One: As we gather at this table, we remember these words of our brother Jesus: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
All: We come to this table weary and burdened. Give us rest, O God.
One: As we gather at this tale, we remember that Jesus comes to us in the stranger, in the hungry, in the thirsty, and in the one needing warmth.
All: We come to this table as strangers in a strange land. Welcome us into your family, O God.
PRAYER OF ADORATION
One: Let us pray. Living God, you are present in our midst.
All: and we praise you.
One: You are tearing down walls of alienation and exclusion.
All: For this, we praise you…
One: Because, in Jesus, you have shown us a way of hospitality, simplicity, prayer, peacemaking, and resistance.
All: we praise you.
One: Because your Spirit makes a new path for us, as we struggle to live in the belly of Empire.
All: We praise you.
One: weak as we are, you fill us with hope.
Lover of our souls, you give us joy.
All: and we praise you. Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
One: We remember that Jesus said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment.”
All: Merciful God, we confess that we have not loved you with our whole heart. It is easy to be distracted with fickle dreams and selfish desires. Forgive us.
One: And Jesus reminds us of a second command: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
All: Loving One, we confess that we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. Our hearts too easily put our needs above the needs of others, seeking comfort and safety without regard for those who have greater need.
Pause for a time of silent confession. Consider these questions:
1) Am I reconciled to all at this table?
2) Does anyone here have a need that it is within my power to meet?
3) Is there anything I cling to that keeps me from offering love to those at this table?
One: Hear the good news: In the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of our brother Jesus, God proclaims forgiveness. In the name of Jesus, you are forgiven!
All: In the name of Jesus, we are forgiven!
SETTING THE TABLE
One: We take joy in the meal, where we give our love and attention to one another, and remember that Jesus too is here, with us. In the midst of this sacred meal we set three symbols to remind us of his promises to us:
Reader 1: A candle, to remind us that he poured out his Holy Spirit upon us, giving us new life, new power, and new hope. We, filled with this Spirit, bring the presence of God into a broken world.
Reader 2: Bread, for he is the bread of life. He nourishes us and we put our trust in him.
Reader 3: A cup, a reminder of his sufferings. He took up the cup with his friends before he was crucified and his blood flowed. He suffers still when the oppressed suffer injury at the hands of the powerful.
One: Jesus is with us! Let us open our hearts to God and to one another. Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE
The people gathered offer one another a sign of peace. Usually, this is a hug, but a handshake is also appropriate.