Home Worship Planning Planning Resources Breaking Bread Behind the Wall: A Prison Communion Liturgy

Breaking Bread Behind the Wall: A Prison Communion Liturgy

Note: This service of Table would follow a service of the word. It presumes the congregation does not use service bulletins or other written resources. Leader 1 is the presider, usually a chaplain, always someone authorized to preside in this setting. Leader 2 may be a chaplain's clerk who prompts the community with the words they will offer to God. Testers of this liturgy are free to substitute the titles for these roles appropriate for their setting.

The language of this form of the Communion prayer reflects the ways many prisoners understand and address God, Jesus, Spirit and Trinity in the prison setting. Congregations of men are often most comfortable addressing God as "Father." Settings including juvenile offenders or women often are not. Both kinds of readings are offered here in various places to address these different kinds of contexts. Testers of this liturgy should use the language that is most appropriate in their setting.

Leader 1: This isn't my dining room or my table.
Imagine yourself having a meal
breaking bread with Jesus.
He invites you to bring something.

What are you bringing to the table?

Leader 2: The sacrifice I bring is myself.
Congregation: The sacrifice I bring is myself.

Leader 1: Are you tired of eating alone?
Do you know that God is holy
and wants you to be holy, too?

Leader 2: Yes, my plate is empty
and Jesus' table is full.

Congregation: Yes, my plate is empty
and Jesus' table is full.

Leader 1: We come to this table broken
and we need to be made whole.

Leader 2: God has forgiven us
and repairs everything that is broken.

Congregation: God has forgiven us
and repairs everything that is broken.

Leader 1: God wants us to be at peace.

Look at the people around you and say:

Leader 2: I offer you the peace of God.
Congregation: I offer you the peace of God.

Leader 1: The Lord Jesus is with you.

Leader 2: and the Lord Jesus is with you, too

Congregation: and the Lord Jesus is with you, too.

Leader 1: Will you praise the Lord with joy in your heart?

Leader 2: We will praise the Lord with the joy in our hearts.

Congregation: We will praise the Lord with the joy in our hearts.

Leader 1: If you can breathe, you can praise Him/God.
Leader 1 continues to say this until the people enter into praise.
After praise has continued for a while, the leader asks

Isn't it good
to give our thanks and praise
to the Lord?

Leader 2: Yes, it's really good
to give our thanks and praise
to the Lord/our God.

Congregation: Yes, it's really good
to give our thanks and praise
to the Lord/our God.

Leader 2: We join our praises with the hosts of heaven,
singing Hallelujah . . .

Congregation: We join our praises with hosts of heaven,
singing Hallelujah .
. .

(Sing Hallelujahs for a time . . . let the Spirit move and lead)

Leader 1: You created us, and blessed us
and called us good.

Leader 2: Out on the street, we were just having fun.
Congregation: Out on the street, we were just having fun.

Leader 1: Did you know you were really betraying God?
Wait a minute. Think about the ways you betrayed him/God.

(Silence for personal confession as fits your setting)

Leader 2: I'm so sorry for the things I've done.
Congregation: I'm so sorry for the things I've done.

Leader 2: I'm so sorry for the people I've hurt.
Congregation: I'm so sorry for the people I've hurt.

Leader 2: I'm so sorry for hurting you, God.
Congregation: I'm so sorry for hurting you, God.

Leader 1: Please forgive us, God.
You are the key to an open door.

Leader 2: We praise you, God of the Open Door.
Congregation: We praise you, God of the Open Door.

Leader 1: We are desperate for good news.
Leader 2: You bring good news, God of mercy.
Congregation: You bring good news, God of mercy.

Leader 1: You heal us when we are sick in body
and sick in spirit.

Leader 2: You sit at the table with sinners
and teach us your ways.

Congregation: You sit at the table with sinners
and teach us your ways.

Leader 1: We deserve death
but you died so we could live.

Leader 2: The power of God raised Jesus from the grave.
Congregation: The power of God raised Jesus from the grave.

Leader 1: The power of God lifts us from the pit of sin.
Leader 2: God washes us clean and gives us new life.
Congregation: God washes us clean and gives us new life.

Leader 1: On the night you were betrayed, Jesus,
you broke and blessed the bread.

Leader 2: You said, "This is my body and I give it to you.
Remember me."

Congregation: You said, "This is my body and I give it to you.
Remember me."

Leader 1: You did the same thing with the cup that was on the table
and said it was a new covenant you made with us,
a vow you would not break.

Leader 2: We remember all
that the Father, Son, (Creator/Savior) and Holy Spirit
have done to save us, and we are thankful.

Congregation: We remember all
that the Father, Son, (Creator/Savior) and Holy Spirit
have done to save us, and we are thankful.

Leader 1: We don't belong to ourselves any more
Leader 2: We give ourselves to you.
Congregation: We give ourselves to you.

Leader 1: It's a mystery, but we believe
Leader 2: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Congregation: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Leader 1: Pour out your Spirit on us.
Leader 2: Pour out your Spirit on us.
Congregation: Pour out your Spirit on us.

Leader 1: Pour out your Spirit on these gifts
Leader 2: Pour out your Spirit on these gifts
Congregation: Pour out your Spirit on these gifts

Leader 1: Make these gifts the body and blood of Christ.
Leader 2: Through these gifts, make us Christ's body in the world.
Congregation: Through these gifts, make us Christ's body in the world.

Leader 1: Father God/Mighty Creator, let your kingdom come.
Leader 2: Glory to you, Father God/Creator God
. Congregation: Glory to you, Father God/Creator God.

Leader 1: Come, Lord Jesus! Be our daily bread.
Leader 2: Glory to you, Lord Jesus!
Congregation: Glory to you, Lord Jesus!

Leader 1: Holy Spirit, send us out as a light in the darkness.
Leader 2: Glory to you, Holy Spirit!
Congregation: Glory to you, Holy Spirit!

Leader 1: Glory be to God the Father/Creator,
God the Son/Savior, and God the Holy Spirit.
Leader 2: God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
Congregation: God in three persons, blessed Trinity.

Leader 1: Amen
Leader 2: And Amen
Congregation: And Amen!

BREAKING THE BREAD

GIVING THE BREAD AND CUP

PRAYER AFTER RECEIVING

May be prayed or sung using a tune of your own creation.

Thank you God for what you've done

You've given your only son

I will give my life to you,

I promise I'll follow through.



This resource is covered under a Creative Commons 3.0 Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works license. You may copy and distribute it freely by any means, but you may not alter it or sell it. If you wish to comment on this resource, please do so by establishing a user account on the Open Source Liturgy Project Wiki (http://wikigbod.org/wiki) and using the comment tool associated with this resource in the Beta section of the wiki, or by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. The comments we seek from testers are responses to these three questions: What works? What doesn't work? And what could be changed to improve this piece for your setting or settings like yours?

Related