Grace - fresh vital worship since 1993

November 2007: Hospitality Communion

november 2007 grace flyer

The intention was to start with a parody of church exclusivity (and especially the perceived hip cliqueyness of emerging church], played sufficiently straight and close to reality to make the congregation feel genuinely uncomfortable until the joke was revealed.

1. Sign in as Grace member or visitor and wear a sticker

2. Entry to the church

people will be given a friendly welcome if they have a Grace badge, and a cold welcome if they have a visitor badge. The Grace people are invited to sit in a circle of beanbags, everyone else sits on the benches at a distance. The Grace people in the circle recite a fake liturgy which is pretentious and exclusive, and then pretend to listen to a track on their ipod headphones which no-one else can hear. Then there are fake notices which are worded so that only people who already know what's happening can understand.

[All this is to parody the ways that churches exclude people, accidentally or deliberately.]

3. The real welcome

Prayer by Mark Berry (verse 2 1st in balcony - Richard; 4 different voices)

The circle is dismantled, large bean bags hurled down. People are invited to sit and tear up the member/visitor stickers

4. Small group discussion

how did the start of the service make you feel; what makes you feel welcomed or unwelcome (Jackie)

5. Hospitality soundbites (1)

at the previous service Ben had recorded people talking about a person they thought embodied or practised hospitality - these soundbites are replayed at intervals in this service as food for thought.

6. Song – Toilet song (Jonny)

7. Introduce Dutch visitors to rest of congregation

[we had over 20, who were on a study visit to London churches] - one of them to say how they heard of Grace and why they had come

8. Hospitality soundbites (2)

9. Group discussion:

focussing on Grace - how can we be/become more hospitable
reporting back
questions on screen
ensure that each group has a Grace person [Mike]

10. Hospitality soundbites (3)

11. Reading/Meditation (Dean)

We learn it in the playground.
To laugh at the kid who is different,
throw stones at the boy
who doesn’t belong in our gang.
We build boundaries around our group.
We sacrifice the one who is different
on the altar of our ego
to make us feel safe, secure and good.
We congratulate ourselves,
having ‘got’ the bad guy.
We are OK.
Now we are adults
we put aside childish things.
Or rather concealed them under a veneer of sophistication.
We trade stones for words;
the whispered gossip about what she did last night,
the vicious rumour about why he doesn’t fit in around here.
Or rather more subtly, we confine our conversation to the people we like.
To the outsider we offer polite neglect.
Different means, same end.
The outsider becomes the sacrificial victim,
brought low
so that we may feel good about ourselves.
We shun the word ‘gang’ with its overtone of violence,
preferring to call ourselves ‘friends’ or community.
But still we define ourselves by the people we exclude.
God strides into our world,
not to accuse us about how we treat one another,
but to offer himself as the next victim to our hunger for self-righteousness.
We take the bait, brand him as a trouble maker and put him to death.
How could we allow someone that good to live?
But this sacrifice breaks apart in our hands.
We thought we were using him to feel good about our gang,
when all along, God was offering himself to us.
God shows us that we aren’t really like that,
needn’t be like that,
if only we let go of false security and group self-congratulation,
he moves us into a bigger world
where we don’t need to prove our goodness
because we know we are loved.
We can start to take down the boundaries.
Excluding people serves no purpose any more.
But we forget what God has done,
drop back into old ways,
huddle into cliques, and push others away.
We need a reminder of the hospitality of the cross.
We find it in bread and wine.

(Inspired by an article by James Allison)

12. Confession

short, with reflective pauses (Jackie)

Let us confess the many times and situations that we have excluded others from our Christianity communities and circles.

for reasons of difference and discrimination
because of the way others look, and speak,
the way they dress, their musical tastes
their styles of worship
their issues and needs
their different opinions and traditions
because they are not just like us

Forgive us Lord and help us to open the circle

We confess that sometimes it is just because we don’t think and see each other enough.

We enjoy the cosy familiarity
We enjoy our own thoughts, reflections too much
The comfort of our space
The reassurance of familiar faces and friendships
We don’t take the time to open up to new people
We keep the barriers in place

Forgive us Lord and help us to open the circle

We confess that as outsiders and newcomers we could do more to enter in.

we prefer to stay back and simply observe
to enter late and leave quickly
we let things put us off easily
and make our excuses

Forgive us Lord and help us to enter the circle

We remember that you invited all of us to your supper
Across traditions and across history
We thank you that through the cross,
The veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom.
you ask us all to cross over to your place here.

Forgive us Lord and thank you for inviting us into your circle

13. Song – 'Table of Christ' (Jonny)

14. Eucharistic prayer (Dean)

The Communion prayer we used was based on the following by Mark Berry, but with some adaptation;


Welcome to the table, eating together is a vivid sign of community... sharing tonight as we do regularly we are community, in communion with each other and with the creator and redeemer God. We reflect the image of a God who is by nature fellowship, family, yet family is difficult it requires honesty and sacrifice... it is vital that we are honest with each other and before God and that we give of ourselves to each other and to Gods purpose.

Reflect on and release the things which harm our relationship with God and each other.


In sharing this meal we share not only with each other, but with people of faith the world over; male and female, rich and poor, powerful and weak, experienced and naïve, old and young, global and local, every race and every creed... all approach the table as equals, as Jesus lay down his authority at the table, so we lay down any remnants of pride, prejudice and self-importance and any feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and hurt. This is a Global table, all are welcome, all are equal.


Not only is this table one among many across the planet, it is a timeless place... we eat together in a meal shared by seekers and believers through the ages; Disciples and Desert Fathers, Celts and Catholics, Western puritans and Eastern orthodox, Conservatives and Charismatics, Liberal and Liberationist, The certain and the uncertain, modern and post-modern, the hurting and the healers. In eating together we join in the history of God’s church.


Jesus sat down, all the apostles with him, and said, “You've no idea how much I have looked forward to eating this Passover meal with you before I enter my time of suffering. It's the last one I'll eat until we all eat it together in the kingdom of God.” Taking the cup, he blessed it, then said, “Take this and pass it among you. As for me, I'll not drink wine again until the kingdom of God arrives.”

Taking bread, he blessed it, broke it, and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, given for you. Eat it in my memory.”

He did the same with the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant written in my blood, blood poured out for you.”

As people all over the world and down throughout the ages shared this meal, and received from God, so we receive, in order that we might be refreshed and sustained to live Gods purpose in community, to live out our God-created identity, to live generously and graciously, to fight oppression and injustice, to minister to culture, to join God in God’s world, to be a living sacrifice.

15. Blessing (Dean)


<< swipe left

The Grace people sit in a circle of beanbags, everyone else sits on the benches at a distance.

The Grace people in the circle recite a pretentious and exclusive fake liturgy.

Suddenly voices in the balcony give the real welcome. Large bean bags are hurled down and the exclusive circle is dismantled.

Everybody is invited to leave the benches for the beanbags.

Group discussion.

The Dutch visitors joined us in the cafe afterwards.


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