The Love Feast was, for many years, an important part of life in the Methodist societies. John Wesley adapted it from the Moravian Agape Meal. It was an informal time of prayer, singing, testimony, and sharing of food and water. The Love Feast was held monthly for society members. Methodists looked forward to the monthly event.
The United Methodist Book of Worship contains historical information, suggestions for the use of the Love Feast, appropriate hymns and scriptures, as well as the service, itself (pages 581-4). Given the time constraints of the Covenant Discipleship group meeting, it is impossible for us to use a full service. What follows is an abbreviated order, which contains some elements and preserves the form of the Book of Worship service while making use of some elements of other forms of the Love Feast.
The Love Feast may serve as an order for a weekly meeting. The reading of the covenant and each person’s time of accountability serve to replace the ADDRESS OR PERSONAL WITNESS TO THE SCRIPTURE and the TESTIMONIES, PRAYERS, SINGING portions of the Love Feast in the Book of Worship.
When using the Love Feast as part of the meeting, the leader should distribute copies to each member present. Permission is granted for you to use and adapt the order below in your Covenant Discipleship group, inserting your group’s covenant.
Because some persons may see similarities between the Love Feast and Holy Communion, it is good to make clear to them that this is not the sacrament at which an ordained elder presides, but is a simple sharing of food led by a lay person.
This introduction was adapted from an article by Dean McIntyre, Music Resources Director, The General Board of Discipleship.
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BRIEF ORDER FOR A LOVE FEAST
FOR COVENANT DISCIPLESHIP GROUPS
HYMN (tune, TERRA BEATA (144) or DIADEMATA (327), The UM Hymnal)
Father of earth and heaven,
Thy hungry children feed,
Thy grace be to our spirits given,
That true immortal bread.
Grant us and all our race
In Jesus Christ to prove
The sweetness of thy pardoning grace,
The manna of your love.
SCRIPTURE Suggested lessons:
Psalm 145:8-21 1 Corinthians 13
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 Philippians 2:5-11
1 John 4:7-21 Matthew 22:34-40
Luke 9:12-17 Luke 10:25-37
Luke 14:16-24 John 6:25-35
PRAYERS (This prayer from John Wesley or others may be offered by the leader and group members.)
O God, seeing there is in Christ Jesus
an infinite fullness of all that we can want or desire,
O that we may all receive of his fullness, grace upon grace;
grace to pardon our sins, and subdue our iniquities;
to justify our persons and to sanctify our souls;
and to complete that holy change, that renewal of our hearts,
whereby we may be transformed
into that blessed image wherein you did create us.
O make us all acceptable to be partakers
of the inheritance of your saints in light. Amen.
(Here the group reads its covenant together and each give account of her or his discipleship.)
THE LORD’S PRAYER
FELLOWSHIP OF EATING AND PASSING THE CUP
As group members pass bread, cake, crackers, etc. to their neighbor they say:
God loves you, and there’s nothing you can do about it.
HYMN or DOXOLOGY
UMH 186 Alleluia
UMH 659 Jesus Our Friend and Brother
UMH 665 Go Now in Peace
UMH 432 Jesu, Jesu
UMH 583 Sois la Semilla (You Are the Seed)
UMH 572 Pass It On
UMH 566 Blest Be the Dear Uniting Love
UMH 560 Help Us Accept Each Other
UMH 389 Freely, Freely
UMH 402 Lord, I Want to Be a Christian
UMH 422 Jesus, Thine All-Victorious Love
UMH 94 Praise God …
TFWS 2223 They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love
TFWS 2222 The Servant Song
TFWS 2226 Bind Us Together
TFWS 2224 Make Us One
TFWS 2233 Where Children Belong
TFWS 2168 Love the Lord Your God
TFWS 2167 More Like You
TFWS 2171 Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
TFWS 2175 Together We Serve
TFWS 2176 Make Me a Servant
TFWS 2179 Live in Charity
TFWS 2040 Awesome God
(all may pray the Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition, UMH #607)
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
This service Copyright © 2013 by The United Methodist General Board of Discipleship. Permission is granted for nonprofit use or adaptation with the inclusion of this clause and The Board of Discipleship’s worship website as source (http://www.gbod.org/worship).
Sources: UM Book of Worship, UM Hymnal, Methodism and the Love-Feast (by Frank Baker. New York: Macmillan, 1957).