Sacred Meals: Brunch and Dinner Church
Sharing a sacred meal is a tradition from the earliest days of the church, one with which some congregations in Vermont are experimenting.
Worship like this is based on the worship in the Early Church. In the second and third centuries, Christians gathered for sacred meals they called the Eucharist (a Greek word that means “thanksgiving”). Jesus and many of his first followers were Jewish, so the meals were related to Jewish Sabbath supper and Seder meals, and involved blessing bread and a cup. The meals shared by these early Christians were the great-great grandparent of our modern Eucharist.
In these liturgies of Brunch or Dinner Church, we bless our meal with the earliest known Eucharistic Prayer called the Didache (say “DID-ah-key”), or a prayer shaped by this ancient one, drawn from the second century. A priest says this prayer and the congregation responds during the blessing, then we all share the bread saying, “This is my body.”
St. Lydia’s in NYC is a Dinner Church—all the time: that is how they come together and worship. Emily Scott, pastor of St. Lydia’s, came to our 2010 Convention in the Episcopal Church in Vermont, and she taught us about the Didache and the Dinner Church liturgy. (See more about St. Lydia’s, including a very cool introductory video.)
Some Vermont church members were inspired! Several congregations have tried out a form of sacred meal for a worship service. St. James in Essex Junction stared a Dinner Church service and has it regularly, once each month. Check out their FaceBook page. They are willing to teach other congregation and held a dinner in Bennington recently. St. Andrew’s in St. Johnsbury designed a Brunch Church liturgy and offered it during Epiphany. They would like to offer more in future.
Both congregations are making their liturgy booklets available through Stirrings of the Spirit. Our hope is they will inspire you to try a sacred meal liturgy and give you some ideas for what can be done and how.
St. Andrew’s Epiphany Brunch Church
is a three-year strategy
for the Episcopal Church in Vermont
to discern where the Spirit is calling us
through exploring new
of what it means to follow Jesus in a rapidly changing world.