UnReCognised @ Greenbelt 2012 “The Tea Party”

Call to worship: Isaiah 55.1-3
Hey you there – are you thirsty?
Then come to the water, and drink.
Are you penniless?
Then come anyway, buy what we have to offer – and eat.
Come buy your drink: wine and milk.
But buy it without hard cash.
You don’t need money here!

Why spend money on the food that isn’t the true bread?
Why labour for that which does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to me – and eat what is good.
Come here, and delight in the richest food of all.
God says, “Come, you are welcome; Listen to me and I will give you life in all its fullness.”

God says, “I am making an everlasting covenant with you. Come to me – and live.”

Welcome to a feast at a tea party
We are UnReCognised. Our aim today is to share with you our idea of paradise; but also to give you the chance to think about what paradise means for you and for the curious world in which you live.

This act of worship is an incredibly informal one. Each one of you will help it take shape. Together we will pray, talk, reflect, discuss; and as we share an informal picnic we hope you will come into communion with each other and with the Lord.
At the end of the service we will be sharing the Lord’s Supper together.
Please feel free to take part in as much or as little as you wish. It is the Lord Jesus Christ who has invited you, and he is the host. Remember that you are welcome.

This service takes place over afternoon tea. This part of the service is where you get to know each other. For the next five minutes we invite you to open your hamper and share out the food. While you do it, introduce yourselves. Who are you? Where are you from? And what brings you here today? Please begin.

Prayer of approach – sharing glimpses of God / paradise at GB or in previous week
We now invite you share a bit about what has been paradise for you in the past week, and particularly here at Greenbelt. Where have you seen glimpses of God?

Do you see glimpses of God in this gathering now? Together, acknowledge God’s presence here. This activity is an act of prayer. We invite you to begin.

Breaking open the texts

John 6:1-15
Extracts from A Mad Tea Party from “Alices’s Adventures in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

Jesus crossed Lake Galilee, which was also known as Lake Tiberias.  A large crowd had seen him work miracles to heal the sick, and those people went with him. It was almost time for the Jewish festival of Passover, and Jesus went up on a mountain with his disciples and sat down.

There was a table set out under a tree in front of the house, and the March Hare and the Hatter were having tea at it: a Dormouse was sitting between them, fast asleep, and the other two were using it as a cushion, … The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!’ they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There’s plenty of room!’ said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

When Jesus saw the large crowd coming toward him, he asked Philip, “Where will we get enough food to feed all these people?” He said this to test Philip, since he already knew what he was going to do. Philip answered, “Don’t you know that it would take almost a year’s wages just to buy only a little bread for each of these people?”

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don’t see any wine,’ she remarked.

`There isn’t any,’ said the March Hare.

`Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it,’ said Alice angrily.

`It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited,’ said the March Hare.

`I didn’t know it was your table,’ said Alice; `it’s laid for a great many more than three.’

Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the disciples. He spoke up and said,  “There is a boy here who has five small loaves of barley bread and two fish. But what good is that with all these people?”

Have you guessed the riddle yet?’ the Hatter said, turning to Alice again.

`No, I give it up,’ Alice replied: `what’s the answer?’

`I haven’t the slightest idea,’ said the Hatter.

`Nor I,’ said the March Hare.

Alice sighed wearily. `I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’

The ground was covered with grass, and Jesus told his disciples to have everyone sit down. About five thousand men were in the crowd.

`Jesus took the bread in his hands and gave thanks to God. Then he passed the bread to the people, and he did the same with the fish, until everyone had plenty to eat. The people ate all they wanted, and Jesus told his disciples to gather up the leftovers, so that nothing would be wasted.

The Hatter shook his head mournfully. `Time and I quarreled last March …and ever since that,`he won’t do a thing I ask! It’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles.’

`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?’ said Alice.

`Exactly so,’ said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.’

Take some more tea,’ the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.

`I’ve had nothing yet,’ Alice replied in an offended tone, `so I can’t take more.’

`You mean you can’t take less,’ said the Hatter: `it’s very easy to take more than nothing.’

The disciples gathered them up and filled twelve large baskets with what was left over from the five barley loaves.

 `…..   `I want a clean cup,’ interrupted the Hatter: `let’s all move one place on.’

He moved on as he spoke, and the Dormouse followed him: the March Hare moved into the Dormouse’s place, and Alice rather unwillingly took the place of the March Hare. The Hatter was the only one who got any advantage from the change: and Alice was a good deal worse off than before, as the March Hare had just upset the milk-jug into his plate.

After the people had seen Jesus work this miracle, they began saying, “This must be the Prophet who is to come into the world!”

This piece of rudeness was more than Alice could bear: she got up in great disgust, and walked off; no one took the least notice of her going, though she looked back once or twice, half hoping that they would call after her:

And then she noticed that one of the trees had a door leading right into it. `That’s very curious!’ she thought. `But everything’s curious today. I think I may as well go in at once.’ And in she went. [and]  walked down the little passage [where] she found herself at last in the beautiful garden, among the bright flower-beds and the cool fountains.

Jesus realised that they would try to force him to be their king. So he went up on a mountain, where he could be alone.

Breaking open the word: Discuss Me

Inside your envelopes you will find the questions that came to our minds as we shared tea together, you might like to discuss one of them or chew over some of your own.

How do we welcome? What are the different ways of being rude that you have experienced? How do we invite/exclude people from the table?

Or, How does God feed you? Does it satisfy? is anything wasted? do you have more than nothing?

Or, Are you moving endlessly around the table or moving on towards the garden? Which sounds like paradise?

Or, Can you glimpse God amongst the curiosity of life?

Prayers of Intercession

You may find that your conversations lead you into hopes, dreams, fears and concerns which you would like to share in prayer, take 5 minutes to offer your prayers to God. Remember that your discussions are prayers in themselves. In the name of Jesus we invite you to continue

Celebration of Holy Communion

We are gathered in the name and in the presence of Christ, and together we have already shared something of ourselves with each other.

We now come to the part of the service where we acknowledge and give thanks for the activity of Christ in our midst, in our world, throughout history.

Through eating and drinking together we have already become present at the table of the Lord Jesus Christ. At the appropriate point each group will be served with a scone to share with one another and your tea cup will be filled with grape juice

Now, in the presence of our brothers and sisters, we remember together the love that has brought us to this point, and we celebrate all that Jesus is and has done for us.

Let us pray.

Eucharistic Prayer

We come before you, incredible God, with praise and thanksgiving. You are the maker of the world, Creator of form and substance, time and space.

We praise you for the wonder of your creation: The sea which regulates the tides of time,

The sky, our window on space, that lights our day and darkens our nights,

The earth from which the grain comes for our bread.

We thank you for the bread of life, your Son Jesus, born of Mary to live our common life, to dance and weep, laugh and cry, to know our joys and sorrows and understand our weakness. We thank you that in him we can find true nourishment in heart and mind.

We thank you for the promise you made in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, symbolised by the fruit of the vine that we share together.

We acknowledge our role in the story of God’s people, and we ask you to strengthen us to answer the call to play our part in making paradise real.

We ask that your Holy Spirit be present with us now, (and in all your gifts,) that the ordinary may be made holy, and that in eating and drinking together, however unworthy we are, we may be made one in each other and one in you.

And so, glorifying your name and singing your praise, with all people everywhere, past, present and to come, we join together in the prayer of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Lord’s Prayer

Narrative of the Institution and distribution & sharing

 And so we who are seated at a banquet, remember a banquet which took place long ago. We remember a man, surrounded by his friends who little knew that it was the last earthly meal they would share together. And we recall what took place:

President takes large scone, holds it up for all to see, and breaks it as she says:

As they were eating, Jesus took a piece of bread and, after giving thanks, broke it and said, “Take, eat. This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Scones are distributed to groups

I invite you to share the scone around your group. Once you all have a piece look at each other saying “the body of Christ” and eat your piece of bread together, remembering that you are one in each other, and one in Christ.

President takes massive cup, lifts it for all to see and says:

After supper, in the same way, Jesus took the cup, and said, “Take, drink. This is the cup of the new covenant sealed by my blood. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Distribute grape juice

I invite you as your cup is filled to share it with one another. As you pass the cup to the person next to you, say “the blood of Christ” to remind the person receiving of the sacrifice Christ made
in order to make us one with each other and one in him.

Prayer after Communion

And now, as one with Christ and one with each other, we pray together.

God of a love stronger than death, you have given us new birth into a living hope through the gift of your son.

We are your people, And you are our God.

You have made us one with all your people in heaven and on earth.

We are your people, And you are our God.

And now we ask that you will strengthen for service, the hands that have taken holy things.

We are your people, And you are our God.

May the ears that have heard your word be deaf to clamour and dispute.

We are your people, And you are our God.

May the eyes that have seen your great love shine with the light of hope, in the knowledge that

We are your people, And you are our God.

May the feet that leave this place ever walk in the light

We are your people, And you are our God.

Thanks be to God for a gift beyond words.


Share the peace 

As we come to the end of our time together I invite you to offer a sign of the peace to those you have shared your meal with today. Smile at them, shake their hand, hug them, do whatever, but make sure you say to each of them: May the peace of God go with you.


And may the blessing of the one who created you,

the one who redeemed you

and the one who fires and inspires you,

be with you now and ever more.



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