Communion on the beach is not a new thing. In John chapter 21 we find the first written record of communion on the beach, when the risen Lord Jesus shared breakfast with his disciples. For them it was as reinstatement of old friendships and trust, as well as a re-committement to each other in the face of what lay ahead. For us on Sunday, it was an affirmation of our shared faith in Jesus, and of our unity as part of the family of God.
For the past few years we have finished our Congregational picnic with an act of worship, and last Sunday, in response to popular demand, we included family communion.
We had no books, so everything had to be well-known. We began with a simple children’s chorus – ‘I’ve got a very big God-O’, with one of the teenagers leading the actions. Andy Chittick, our youth leader, then led us in prayer, and Ruth Davies, our Reader, then presented a dramatised version of the parable of the ten virgins, (Matthew 25), drawing on various people of all ages who had been roped into the parts with little warning.
What lessons can we learn from the parable of the ten virgins?
- Firstly, that God’s Kingdom is like a big wedding celebration – something not to be missed, and well worth waiting for.
- Secondly, that our faith needs to be current – we can’t just rely on moments from our past.
- Thirdly, that our faith needs to be our own – it can’t be borrowed from anyone else.
We sang ‘Give me oil in my lamp’, (including the verse ‘give me wax for my board, keep me surfing’), after which we sat down in groups and talked about things we were thankful to God for in the last year, and things we were looking forward to in the year to come.
Finally, after three simple questions which affirmed our faith, we shared communion together. We all stood in a big circle around a small make-shift table. I made it clear what we were doing and why, and that by sharing the bread and the wine we were affirming our belief that Jesus died for us, and our commitment to follow him.
All ages were welcome, but no one was forced to be there, so, while a number of kids went off to play on the nearby sand-dunes, most stayed with their mums and dads. As the bread and then the wine were passed around the circle from hand to hand, there was a clear sense of our unity in the presence of God. As we shared the peace afterwords, there was a clear sense of celebration.
Our closing hymn was ‘Jesus loves me, this I know’, and for me it summed up all that had just taken place. I have many memories of sharing the Last Supper with many different people in many different places all over the world, but this is one of the best.
Here is part of the prayer that we used.
Loving Father, as we have shared in the Lord’s supper, we remember those who won’t be having any supper tonight. As we have come together as a family, we remember those who have no family, or who are sad about someone they love. As we have celebrated our faith, we remember those who are missing out on that faith.
Send your Holy Spirit upon us now, and upon this bread and this wine so that, as we share it together, we may be filled afresh with your love and be able to serve you better, bringing your love into the lives of those who need to feel it most .