When We Go to a Love Feast
When We Go to a Love Feast
Scriptures: Matthew 26:26-29; Mark 14:22-25; Luke 22:14-20; I Corinthians 11:16-34
The Saturday before love-feast day, Jane skipped out the long lane to get the ail as soon as she saw the carrier drive away from the box. She had a feeling that there might be a letter from Mother and Dad, and now that the summer was about over, she was becoming anxious to see her parents and to get back to school and see all of her friends. The letter that she had hoped to find was there. Running all the way back to the house, she stopped under the big walnut tree, where Jim was oiling the lawn mower, so that she could share the letter with him.
“A letter from Mother and Dad,” she sang out happily. “It’s for us both.” Dropping down on the grass beside Jim, she eagerly tore the envelope open. They read the letter together and then smiled at each other.
“Gee,” said Jim. “Won’t it be great to see Mother and Dad again? We’ve had a wonderful summer, but I’m getting sort of lonely to see them.”
“So am I,” said Jane, “and I’m glad Dad will be taking another week’s vacation now and we’ll all be here together. We’ll get back from the love feast tomorrow night by the time they are here and it won’t seem so long while we are waiting if we are at the church.”
As they walked together toward the house, Jim was thoughtful. “I surely hate to leave David,” he said. “He’s a real pal.”
“But we’ll be coming back again next summer,” comforted Jane. “Maybe we can’t stay all summer but we’ll come back for a week or two as we always do.”
“Yes,” said Jim, “and we’ll always remember this summer. I have learned to like it better than ever in the country. It is so clean and beautiful out here all the time.”
“And I like the church too,” said Jane. “Even if the sermons are long. Everyone has been very friendly.”
Now they were on the porch, where Grandmother was mending socks for Grandfather. She smiled up at them as they told her about the letter. “I’ll miss you,” she said. “Grandfather and I have been very happy to have you here this summer.”
“We are glad that we can go to the love feast tomorrow evening,” said Jane. “We want to see what it is like.”
“Yes,” said Grandmother. “I’m glad too that you can go. Has anyone ever told you about our love feast?” The twins shook their heads.
“I heard someone say something about feet-washing. People don’t wash their feet in church, do they? I think they were just fooling.”
“That is one thing that we do, Jim,” said Grandmother gently. “I’d like to explain it. I feel sure that your teacher in the Sunday-school class will tell you about it tomorrow morning and she will help you to understand, but I’d like to tell you about it too.”
“When we have communion at the church where we go,” said Jane, “we have bread and wine. Don’t you have that in the Church of the Brethren?”
“Yes,” said Grandmother. “You see, most of the love feast is a drama. It dramatizes the supper which Jesus and His disciples had together before He was crucified. You remember that when He ate with them, He gave them bread and wine and told them that these things represented His body and His blood because He loved others so much that He was willing to give His life for them.”
“Yes, we know about that” said Jim. “We’ve heard about it at the church we attend in the city. But what else do you do at a love feast that is different?”
“Our love feast is in three parts. First there is a talk called a preparation service. Some churches have it on Sunday morning before the love feast is held in the evening. Here we have the talk right before the love feast. In this talk the minister tries to help everyone prepare for the love feast. Next, we have a feet-washing service.”
“That’s the part that I don’t understand,” said Jane. “I can’t see any reason for washing feet in church and I think it would feel very strange.”
“I don’t believe that you’ll think so when you understand why we do it,” said Grandmother. “You see, in Jesus’ day the people wore sandals, and whenever they came together a servant would wash their feet. At the Last Supper, when Jesus ate with His disciples, instead of asking a servant to wash their feet, Jesus did it for them. In this way He was telling them that He was their friend, that He loved them, and that He was willing to serve them in this humble way. Now we use the service to say the same thing to the people in the church. It means we are willing to put them first. Do you understand what I mean?”
“I think I do” said Jane. “It really isn’t funny when you think about what it means, is it?”
“If Grandfather told Mike Payne what I wanted him to tell him, he wouldn’t feel like doing this now, would he?” asked Jim.
“Will Mike Payne be there?” asked Jane in surprise. “Do people like him go to the love feast?”
“I hope so,” said Grandmother gently. “I think it is very important for all church members to take communion and go to the love feast. I hope that if there is anything in Mike Payne’s heart against Grandfather he can forgive. You see, we feel that the love feast does not help people or mean anything to them if they do not have complete love in their hearts. Our church has always taught that it is wrong to go to a love feast and take part in the service if you are holding anything against anyone.”
“Do you suppose that Jesus even washed Judas’s feet at the first Lord’s Supper?” asked Jim. “He knew that Judas wasn’t His friend. Do you think that He could love him?”
“Of course, He could love him. He just didn’t like what Judas did,” said Jane. “Jesus loved everyone. That’s what we have to do if we want to be like Him. What else do they do at the love feast, Grandmother?”
“After the feet-washing service we have the mal together. That is different from most other churches too. It is just a simple supper which we eat together to show friendship and love just as they did at the supper which Jesus ate with His disciples.”
“And when do you have the bread and the wine?” asked Jim. “Do you have that with the supper?” (Wine is word used in early times for grape juice. Today it is used for fermented grape juice. Many churches today use grape juice instead of wine.)
“No,” answered Grandmother, “that comes afterward, and it is a special part of the service. Someone will read the Scripture selection which tells about it and then we all eat it and drink it together.”
“Since you explained it, Grandmother,” said Jane. “I think I understand why you do it this way. I’m glad that Jim and I can go. And maybe next year we’ll be church members.” She looked across at her twin brother and smiled. Jim nodded. “I think,” he said, “that we’ve learned so much about the Church of the Brethren while we’ve been out here this summer that we will want to talk to Mother and Dad about being church members.”
“The church that you belong to, children,” said Grandmother, “is not so important as the way you live each day. There are great Christians in all churches. Being a church member does not make one a Christian but it is a step in the right direction.”
“We think so too,” said Jim and Jane together.
(At Maple Grove Church of the Brethren, Ashland, Ohio, we celebrate love feast twice a year. One time is called Maundy Thursday just before Good Friday and Easter and fits with the story of the Christ and the Disciples just before the Crucifixion. The second time is the first Sunday of October and is a special day set aside by Christians.)
Learning the Brethren Way with Jim and Jane
By Dessie R. Miller. Illustrated by Harry Durkee.
Elgin, Illinois: Brethren Publishing House (Church of the Brethren), 1951.
Chapter 14, When We Go to a Love Feast, pages 70-74.